Seventeen

img_2433

I’ve been staring at this photo for a while now. The way I would stare in a mirror while screaming Bloody Mary.

Who is that? And more importantly, whose pearls are those?

A twist of fate and a scheduling conflict will take me back to Miami next week – coinciding with my high school reunion. So, in an effort to mentally prepare for the terrible community play rendition of Hot Tub Time Machine that I’m about to headline, I rummaged through a box of mementos, read cringe-worthy letters and found this, my senior year portrait.

At first glance, I was reminded that while I was taking this picture, my boyfriend was sitting in the waiting room with the promise of reaching third base on the ride home. He was adorable, gentlemanly and sweet, but terribly flat chested and had a penis, which eventually caused our demise.

When I looked closer though, the me from 1996 had a prophetic message embedded in my eyebrows – one that only took twenty years of hindsight to actually see it. Unlike what I thought about myself at the time, I was pretty damn unhideous. I would even go as far to say that I was pretty cute. Yes it’s a cliche, teens and their self-esteem issues. But I’d truly look in the mirror and see an out-of-place monster. How terribly sad.

On the bright side, if I had that face today it would be riddled with HPV, so I guess it worked out.

The other non-hideous things about seventeen were the rest of the know-nothings that I befriended. The valedictorian. The nice guy. The Goody Two-Shoes. The bad ass. The comedian. The rebel. The weirdo. The rich girl. The super rich girl. (I went to private school.) The artist. The Goth. The drama queen. My secret girlfriend. They were glorious. Each one. Raging with hormones, broken out with acne and hiding torn hymens from Jesus. Together we made up a super diverse version of The Breakfast Club that could have been made for Telemundo after dark.

But that was then. Next week we will be reunited for an episode of Oprah’s Where Are They Now, where the impulse to undo our high school stereotypes will most likely lead to boring each other with talk of investment banking, bibs and breakfast nooks. But as much as my body recoils with the thought of being trapped in a boring conversation, my FOMO is too powerful not to be there. And I’m willing to bet that in the midst of polite conversation, I’ll see a glimmer of the shitheads we once were. And I’m also willing to put money on having to hold someone’s hair back at the end of the night.

It was Catholic school for Christ’s sake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers in your hair

I heard the crowd roar in the distance and if I tilted my head a certain way, I could see Wesley Schultz’s beard on the big screen. (I live in L.A. now, prepare yourself for a barrage of name drops).

A slight hiccup in my otherwise perfectly timed festival schedule now made me late to The Lumineers‘ set at BottleRock. I had already committed 50 minutes to standing in line for dinner and I was just 10 people away from the window. Sure, music festivals may seem like whimsical drug-laced fun, but if you’re serious about catching as many acts as your ears can physically handle without bleeding, then you haz needz to have a plan – and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll end up hangry while listening to a local band that plays Billy Joel covers on kazoo.

It was the last day of the festival and up to that moment, everything had gone as planned…even better than expected. And now I just needed sustenance to get me through the final stretch, as I was going to need the extra carbs to dance and scream to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (It took everything not to mention all of them by name just now. Los Angeles in the house!)

Prior to The Lumineers taking the stage, Darren Criss (GleeHedwig and the Angry Inch and the name that I just dropped) darted through my food line to head toward the main stage, along with a long conga line of concert goers, so when a flower-crowned young woman in a white dress said, “Excuse me,” I immediately took a step back to let her through.

Only she didn’t want through, she wanted in.

“She is very hungry,” she said pointing to a perfect 6-year-old blonde, blue-eyed girl.

“Me too” I said in that way you answer and look away when a stranger engages you in unwelcome small talk while trying to listen to Neyla Pekarek on cello.

Nonetheless she continued, “The line is like an hour long and she is very hungry. She is a child and can’t wait.”

Wait. What? This woman is serious. I looked at her in disbelief. I looked at the people in line around me in disbelief. After 50 minutes standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them, they were my new best friends, so it wasn’t weird. Steve, one of my new BFFs, said, “Wow, she’s using the kid card.” (Steve is probably not accurate, but I hadn’t dropped a name in a whole paragraph).

Clearly this woman, being incredibly attractive, like a French Jemima Kirke, was not expecting much of a push back, let alone such harsh judgement. So, she continued her ramble, “When you have a kid, they don’t understand to wait. And the line is very long.” She repeated, “The line is like an hour long.”

“I’m aware how long the line is because I’m in it,” my face transformed and my (h)anger was surely palpable. “Go ahead.” I let them in. She thanked me profusely, but I didn’t engage. I was in a silent internal rage. I couldn’t hear The Lumineers anymore. I could just hear my heartbeat and that terrible voice that lives inside of me saying all of the following things:

  • She played you like a fool.
  • You let her in because she’s hot, even though she’s wearing that ridiculous last-season-Coachella flower crown.
  • That’s not even her kid.
  • She is holding a beer. I wonder if she stood in line for it or used the kid to cut for it?
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve been crying.
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve asked to cut at the front of the line, not 10 deep.
  • You could’ve said no.

That was the only part of my internal monologue that was true. I could’ve said no. But I didn’t. Because it’s not the kid’s fault that her parent (but most likely guardian) is an idiot. And what’s two more minutes of waiting versus a lifetime of that little girl’s face popping-up in my head every night before going to sleep with a dubbed over voice saying, “I’m hungry, so hungry.”

I calmed myself and resumed listening to the distant chants of Ho, Hey. It was fine. This wasn’t going to ruin my perfect weekend in Napa. I envisioned grabbing my grilled cheese, plopping down on my blanket and enjoying the rest of the show.

But when it was finally her turn at the window, she didn’t know what to order…so I fucking lost my mind again.

Starlight, starbright

When he answered the phone I asked him if he knew that I would be calling, but he humorlessly explained that he wasn’t a psychic, but an astrologer and that there was a difference.

Apparently his House of Funny was in Mercury retrograde.

This was the first in a series of red flags that I refused to acknowledge. Instead, I continued the conversation, providing him with some basic, personal information so he would be able to construct my astrological chart; and we agreed to meet later that week at his home in the charming neighborhood of South Miami.

c1ebedc107ae67fd7ea465b38ddfe501
I was expecting you.

The date of the appointment arrived and prior to our meeting, I went to happy hour, as one does. Liquid courage they call it, but I soon found out I didn’t even need it.

I pulled up to the astrologer’s house expecting to find a large telescope in front of a teepee, and, for sure, the faint smell of pot mixed with sage. Instead I got a rather large ranch-style home surrounded by a really well-kept garden. To add insult to injury, when he opened the door, he wasn’t wearing excessive jewelry or a fancy broach or even a cape. He was in Dockers and a collared shirt and immediately regretted it all. The happy hour. The appointment. Giving this guy my date of birth. Everything.

How can I take this guy seriously? I grew up watching Walter, Las Estrellas y Usted. Everyone knows a respectable astrologer has to have a broach collection to rival that of Secretary Madeleine Albright.

Nonetheless, I went inside and sat across from his desk, where he painstakingly explained my natal chart. I rested my face on my fist and listened to the gloom and doom that awaited me over the next few years.

“Bummer,” I said.

He tried to cheer me up by saying that my planets would finally get their shit together in four years. This was 2012, though. What my astrologer was suggesting was that I basically had to send my planets away for college and watch idly as they changed their major every semester, experimented with drugs and hair color, and live four years in questionable hygiene.

I left his house and, a few days later, forgot all about my cape-less star-guru. Until today, when I was going through some old files in search of a receipt, when I came across a green folder with the word, “Astrology,” written across the top.

Inside one of the pockets was a cassette labeled with the name of the astrologer and the date, September 13, 2012. I held it in my hands and thought this was what those archaeologists must’ve felt like when they uncovered King Tut’s tomb or Machu Picchu or that weird Miami Circle in the middle of Brickell.

I popped in the tape with giddy anticipation. Hopeful that it would say some illuminating tid-bit that didn’t apply then, but somehow applies now. And then, there it was, in the middle of his monotone blathering about a cusp, a trine and my Uranus becoming activated, which sound like things that go on in the backroom of Ramrod, he said that I would finally have my shit together in 2016.

I looked at the folder, so neatly labeled and I remembered the rest of the folders in the filing cabinet, also labeled in clear pink ink. I ran my fingers across my records, neatly stacked under the stereo and glanced across the room at the neatly stacked book shelf. Holy crap, he was right, my wife finally got my shit together in 2016.