Seventeen

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scissor sisters

“Are you sisters?” is the most common question I field from strangers when I’m with my wife. “No,” we usually answer in unison, only she smiles while I scowl.

This question angers me for many reasons, but mainly because I resent the implication that I’m fucking my sister. Take note, it’s a very fine line between pleasant small talk and incest.

It also angers me because I’m certain that we look nothing alike. I am the proud owner of a prominent nose, a set of wild eyebrows and prematurely sagging jowls, while her features are perfectly proportioned and her skin makes porcelain jealous. She is polished and put together, while my distinct (and hard to pin-point) fashion style and general demeanor ranges from messy to possibly unstable.

Less than a week from last being asked if we were sisters, and offering the questioner my most disgusted look, I found myself practicing her smile in front of our bathroom mirror where I had propped up her driver’s license.

Ho Hey

“You know how I’m signed up to The Lumineer’s mailing list?” she asked as I was serving dinner. “Well, I got an invite to a secret concert.”

My excitement was cut short when she explained that it was not a two-person invite.

“I love you so much,” she said. “I can’t imagine enjoying the show without you.”

I stood in the kitchen with a hand on my hip and the other one holding tongs and considered to wait until after dinner to tell her that I would gladly take her ticket and leave her behind without hesitation or guilt. Instead, I decided to say it right then and there because, let’s face it, I’m an asshole. I began my blurt with, “I love you too, but…I can’t let that ticket go to waste.”

We sat down to eat and continued the conversation.

“It’s not a ticket I can give you,” she said. “You need to show my ID.”

IMG_0288Big Parade 

She left for work that morning and also left behind her state-issued identification card
along with a print out of the email confirming her invitation, which contained a long list of demands:

  • Be in the lobby at 6 o’clock sharp
  • No additional friends or family members will be allowed in
  • Absolutely no mobile phones, cameras or recording devices
  • A state-issued ID is required to enter the show

Throughout the day I was particularly busy with work, but every once and again I’d remember what was ahead. But instead of rejoicing, I would descend the downward spiral. At best, they would take one look at my ID and deny my entry in the most embarrassing way possible. At worst, they would call the cops and arrest me for impersonating a librarian. To avoid either scenario, I decided to practice her smile.

ID

But the more I tried, the less and less I looked like her and the more and more I looked like a psychopath about to have a mental break.

Stubborn Love

Not before long, I headed out to the theater. I locked my phone in the car and walked right up to the check-in table armed with nothing but an ID that clearly was not mine.

I was nervous, suspiciously sweaty and smiling wildly. For some reason I kept repeating my wife’s name in my head in the event that I would suddenly blank out.

“ID?” the young lady at the desk asked.

I handed her the piece of plastic and she checked my fake name off of the list and wrapped a black wristband around my arm. She took one more look at the license as she picked it up to hand it back to me. We locked eyes and she said, “Enjoy the show.”

Just before putting the ID back in my pocket, I looked down at her smiling face and whispered, “Thanks, sis.”

thelumineers and me
“Me” and The Lumineers during their performance on the AT&T LIVE stage at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles on March 3, 2016 in Burbank, California.

(Please note the slightly illegal, alleged events that occur in this story cannot be proved and will be vehemently denied in a court of law…which might also be illegal.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blame it on the FOMO

Consequences of FOMO: Getting thrown out of a club. Shutting down an office. Cashing your pay check in dollar bills.

BlameIt

Chapter 2 – Fear of missing out on debauchery by way of alcohol

There are a few seconds of clarity that happen between lifting the toilet seat and expelling my life into the porcelain bowl.

It is during this short time, while my body prepares to release the demons inside, that I retrace my steps.

Also, it’s when I realize that I’ve made it home with only one shoe. It’s when I remember that my credit card is at the bar, holding open a tab. It’s when I understand why I never stood a chance at winning a beer pong tournament against four Swedish tourists. It’s when I suspect that an ugly drag queen spiked my drink, as it is impossible that I got that drunk that fast. It’s when I recognize that suggesting a seedy strip club as the happy hour spot with my co-workers wasn’t the brightest of ideas.

And, it is when I accept the fate of my sickness and pain because what got me on the cold bathroom floor was totally worth it.

In no way am I glorifying alcohol-induced debauchery. It is messy, smelly, and, without a designated couch and/or driver, possibly deadly. But, when it’s done right, it can live in infamy, burned into the remaining brain cells of its participants – and those of some unsuspecting bar patrons.

In my modest estimation, I was the Wilt Chamberlain of these types of nights, which is why I hope to one day create a second volume of “Stories of FOMO,” just for these tales. However, for the purposes of this (dysfunctional) family friendly volume, I’ll take you back to a time when I had a lot of bit too much and still missed out on everything.

( { ( { ( { SUPER WAVY FLASHBACK EFFECT ) } ) } ) }

“Miss! Miss! Wake up! You can’t sleep here.”

I struggled to open my eyes. Maybe it was the 12 hours of drinking. Maybe it was the excessive mascara that made my eye lashes stick together.

Upon regaining consciousness, I focused on the very tall and wide bouncer before me. He was in a dark suit, complete with a customary secret-service-style ear piece and a menacing look on his face.

“You can’t sleep here. I’m going to have to ask you to leave now.”

Behind him I found three familiar faces, not only because I knew them, but also because they looked like the hear no evil, say no evil, speak no evil monkeys. Only one had her mouth completely ajar, the other had his hand on his face, and the third was squinting so hard it looked like he was passing a kidney stone.

It was the party of the year. All of my friends were in attendance at our favorite club to dance, drink, and debauch to the beats of a celebrity guest DJ. Clothes were purchased for this occasion. Money had been saved. VIP tables were reserved. And, I hadn’t been there for more than 7 minutes, five of which I spent passed out on a couch.

“Do I really have to leave?” I asked in a tone that resembled a 10-year-old.

“If you can’t stay awake, you have to leave,” he responded sternly.

At this point, one of my friends took over and assured the club cop that they would take me home.*

*That’s the good thing about homosexuals. In embarrassing situations, they react like seasoned PR professionals, quickly working to cover-up mishaps and disperse a crowd of lookey-loos.

As one of my friends practically carried me out of the club, I looked over my shoulder to take in the night that would’ve been.

“Nooooooo!” I yelled in my mind, as I dramatically stretched out my hand in an attempt to take the disco ball with me.

She eventually stuffed me in a cab and under the light of a street lamp, I looked up at her. She looked like an angel. An angel in black. A sexy angel. I thought it was the appropriate time to tell her that she looked stunning. And, she, before closing the door to the cab said, “You could’ve had me tonight.”

I watched her disappear as the cab pulled away. I wasn’t even sleepy anymore. I was too overwhelmed with FOMO. Too drunk to muster up anger. So, I crossed my arms and slammed my head back into the seat in a failed temper tantrum.

“No vomit in the car!”

“Don’t worry,” I told the driver without looking up. “I’m fine.”

As we picked up speed, the street lights flashed over my face, so I shut my eyes and thought about the events that led me to missing out on this night.

{ ( { WAVY DREAM SEQUENCE EFFECT ) } )

Earlier that day, my alarm woke me at 8. I ran through my morning routine of washing, bathing, and eating. I stared at my closet for 30 minutes, hoping an outfit would jump out and dress me like a vintage Disney movie. I drove to work and performed boring work duties. Then lunch time rolled around, and everything went to shit.

It’s the boss’ birthday they said. We’re closing down early they said. It’s going to be fun they said.

Cars filled to the brim with employees arrived at a lunch establishment. It wasn’t long after that when colorful pitchers of beer, margaritas, and sangria kept appearing, disappearing, and reappearing. The alcohol ignited office sexual tensions, animated the office flirt, and separated the sloppy from the controlled. After three hours, it seemed like we were millions of miles away from the cold, glass building that housed our organizational chart and employee manual.

At one point, the women decided to kiss the boss’ face, effectively marking him with their lipstick. The lady from legal left her mark dangerously close to his lips, while his secretary sat on his lap to comfortably leave her stain on his neck. When it was my turn, I kissed his ear, which made him cringe almost as much as I did.

All of this over the mantra-like chant of the vice president, “What happens here, stays here.”

Not all the mints, gum, and Bath and Body Works splash in the world could cover our collective stench of alcohol. And, not all the espresso-laced Adderall could sober the group. So, after three hours of nonsense, a decision was made to roll the celebratory lunch into an office happy hour.

The cluster of the party moved to the restaurant bar. Cliques were formed, some around the hightop tables, a few others out on the patio, and the remainder saddled up on stools and held on to the ledge of the bar for fear of falling. Drinks were spilled. Laughs were had. And personal space boundaries were non-existant. There was so much to take in. So much potential for wrongness.

I butterflied around, as I customarily do, not to miss out on any of the inappropriate behavior. Despite my haze, my internal census count warned me that I had lost visual on two of my co-workers. Consumed by an uneasy feeling, I went looking for them. I thought perhaps one of them got sick, so I checked the women’s washroom first. I prepared mentally to help the victim, realizing I would have to hold her hair and pat her gently on the back. However, I was not prepared to find them in a compromised position. An incredibly compromised position.

“Are you guys crazy?” I asked as I locked the door behind me.

They giggled loudly, which angered me more. Yes, angered. After all, I was the office lesbian, which meant it was a lack of courtesy to not consult or invite me to their trist. But, the anger quickly disappeared when I realized the magnitude of the office gossip I had stumbled onto, especially because one of the members of the dynamic duo was already dating a co-worker. Like good girl scouts we swore to keep this between us and went about our business.

Now, 5 hours into this affair, I knew this was dangerous territory. I had plans to grab dinner and get pretty at a friend’s house for the party of the year. But, there was no way I could miss out on the potential for more debauchery. No way.

Like a Jason Mraz album, we danced, we drank, we made new friends, we sang, we talked, and we flirted collectively, until the sky turned black. One by one they fell. One co-worker got in a tiff with his wife, when he forgot to pick up his kid at day care. Another was seduced by a cougar at the bar, and he left with her. The bosses left. The legal department left. And, the small group that remained included the girlfriends.

Time was of the essence. It was dangerously close to party time, but I couldn’t leave without seeing more, so, I suggested venue change. A place that was of walking distance and perfect for inciting serious debauchery  – The Pink Pony.

Lap dances ensued. Money was thrown. And, as surmised, it served as a catalyst for all sorts of havoc. The girls did end up acting out, and the boyfriend didn’t mind at all. As a matter of fact, the girls made a total of $14. I was quite satisfied with myself, until I went to use the ladies room and realized it was way after 11.

“Oh no!” The panic in my voice caused the strippers huddled around the mirror to look at me.

“I’m supposed to be somewhere! And now look at me!”

The girls gathered around me and, like sexy, fairy godMILFs. I was commanded to wash my face, while one of them went back to the dressing room to grab her make-up bag. The two remaining worked together to take off my jacket and sexified my shirt by unbuttoning it and creating a little side-knot. When the third returned, they proceeded to do my make-up and two wet my hair for a designer look.

In the middle of this, my co-worker girlfriends walk into the ladies room. Their giggling stopped, as they stood there staring.

“They’re helping me out.” I said.

“I’m sure they are,” one of them said.

I quickly grabbed my purse and bid adieu to my new friends with kisses and dollar bills. Conveniently, a cab was parked right outside and he had no trouble double-timing it to the club.

{ ( { REVERSE WAVY DREAM SEQUENCE EFFECT ) } )

“27.50. Hello? Wake-up. 27.50.”

The stickiness of the mascara kept one of my lids shut. With my one good eye, I looked out the window of the cab to see my front door. Then turned my attention to the cabbie’s furry unibrow through his rearview mirror. I handed the man 33 dollar bills and walked across the paved path with my head held high, knowing that this would one day make for a good story.

“Stories of FOMO”

You’ve just read a chapter from “Stories of FOMO.” Here are a few other chapters in case you fear of missing out on them:

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 5