Monday, July 6, 2009

Let's Be Pretentious

Once again, it's 12:48 a.m., and I am wide awake, sipping Powerade and listening to some Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. Make no mistake, friends, there's a reason I stay up this late. I'm a writer. Not a good one, and not a very prolific one. Not at all. In seven years I've managed to finish one story, and once I read it through I decided I hated it and ripped it up. I guess you could call it a hobby. But night time is the best time to work. It's quiet, and I just stay up for hours and write whatever I feel like writing. Ever tried it? It's fun. But tonight, I thought I'd try something a little different. I don't do this very often, as a matter of fact, I don't do this at all. So it's kind of a big deal to me, though certainly not to any of you, and it damn well shouldn't be. I am intensely private about what I write. You'd never know it, not from my blogs, but I am. There's something about sharing what I've written that dulls the immediacy of it, and I'm sure that makes absolutely no sense. It's like giving away a fragment of a whole, a chip off the block, and that detracts from the whole itself. Wow. I don't think I've ever said something quite so pretentious in my entire life. Sorry. But tonight I thought I'd try it. Here's a sample of one of my stories. Leave all the comments you want. Rip it to shreds. I'm not too fond of it myself. It needs work that I'll probably never get around to doing, and I don't intend to take it any farther than a hobby. Trust me. A negative review will not cause me to go spiraling down a path of page-burning and self-loathing. So here we go.

"Honestly, honey, it's not that bad," twitters my future mother-in-law nervously, fluttering around me and poking at each singed little curl, attempting to get me to calm down.
"Yes, it IS!" I sob. I hate my hair. Gabe and I fought for months over where to have the wedding, and he finally convinced me to do it in Hawaii, where he grew up. I knew I shouldn't have listened. Right now I should be in my favorite hair salon back east, spinning myself around in the chair and marveling at my perfect updo. Instead, I'm flopped face-down on the hide-a-bed in Gabe's living room, lamenting over the fried mass of curls.
"You look lovely, Alex," Mom assures me. Lie.
"I want it redone. I'm not getting married if my hair looks like this!" I wail.
"Alex, there's nothing we can do-"
"Let Beatrice do it," suggest Annie, who has been sitting in the kitchen, quietly observing my meltdown.
"Who?" I sit up.
"Shut up, Annie," Gabe's mother Alice snaps.
"No, seriously. Let Beatrice do her hair."
"Who?" I persist.
"Mom, it's fine! I'll call Beatrice and she'll do Alex's hair," pushes Annie.
"Will somebody please tell me who Beatrice is?!" I screech, silencing the room.
Alice glares at Annie, looks helplessly at my mother, who shrugs, and finally turns her pitying eyes on me. "She's one of Gabe's old girlfriends. If you want...I mean, she's a hairdresser."
"Fine," I bark. "Call Beatrice. Invite her to the wedding. I don't care. If I don't get my hair redone I'm not getting married."
"Bea's great! You'll love her!" Annie calls as she dials her phone.
"Annie, use your brain," snaps Alice. "The girl doesn't need to know about how 'great' Bea is!"
Megan and Sarah barge down the stairs. Both are calling my name. "Alex, I have a ques-" Sarah stops when she sees my hair. "You look..."
"Don't say it."
"Yeah, but Alex-"
"You wanna talk about what you did to your hair in L.A.?" I challenge.
Sarah shuts her mouth. Two years have not completely erased the memories of Sarah's quick spiral out of control, which included blue hair and a whole lot of Paxil. Now, her hair has been restored to its natural blonde. Her psyche has not made such a perfect recovery. It's like she told me in one of our many late-night conversations- no medicine can change the fact that you're going to die some day.
"One of Gabe's old girlfriends is gonna fix it," I grumble. Sarah raises an eyebrow but doesn't respond.
"So, are you excited?" giggles Megan.
She sits down on the bed. "Oh, come on. Married life is fun! I don't know where I'd be without Steve. And Gabe is just crazy for you, you know. I can tell."
"I'm scared," I admit.
"Jesus, Alex, don't be," sighs Alice. "If I know Gabe, you'll never want another thing for the rest of your life. I've never seen him so happy."
"Beatrice is on her way!" announces Annie, bouncing into the living room. "She said to wash your hair." I wearily pulls myself off the bed and start upstairs, taking orders.

When I come back downstairs, there's a woman with wild blonde hair and the elongated face of a horse sitting on the couch. She smiles at me, baring large front teeth. Neigh.
"You're Alex?"
"Huh. Gabe's done pretty well for himself!" She laughs. Everyone else is silent. "Sit down. Don't worry, Alex. I'll be able to fix it. You can even take a nap if you want!" She laughs again and stands up. She's taller than I am - much taller, and thinner, too. I follow her to the kitchen and perch uneasily in one of the chairs. Annie sits across from me and smiles while Beatrice starts working on my hair. "I didn't know Gabe was getting married," Beatrice comments, slipping pins into my wet hair. "I didn't think he'd ever get married."
"He's just crazy about Alex," Annie responds. There is a note of pride in her voice.
"Are you excited to be a wife?" Beatrice asks.
No. "Uh-huh."
She giggles. To Annie she says, "Where's the groom? He's not too busy to come say hello to me, is he?"
Annie shifts uncomfortably and looks at me for an answer. I cast my eyes down at the table. "Well, he really isn't s'posed to see Alex until-"
"That's an outdated notion. Annie, go tell your brother that I'm here and I'm not taking no for an answer! Don't get jealous, Alex. I'll be good." She laughs once again and Annie reluctantly goes to the bottom of the stairs and calls for Gabe.
He descends, wearing boxers and a t-shirt. My heart skips a beat. Ten hours to go. He smiles at me. "Alex, you're gonna be perfect. Not that you haven't always-" He stops.
"What, no hug for me?" Beatrice pushes.
"What are you doing here, Bea? I thought you were in Miami," he cries, surprised.
"Miami? God, no. Are you gonna hug me or not?" she laughs. He rushes to embrace her. She kisses him square on the mouth. Annie stiffens. I grip the edge of the table. Gabe pulls back, looking down at me.
"Bea," he mumbles.
Beatrice resumes curling my hair. "Oh, you're such a prude, Gabe. Go upstairs before we give poor Alex a heart attack." Gabe shuffles off, stunned. Annie follows him up the stairs, clearly grateful to be free of the scene.
Beatrice laughs to herself. "You're a lucky girl, Alex. I tell you, I always thought I'd be the one to marry Gabe. He just broke my heart. But that was a long time ago. Ten years, almost. You know how we heal. And I'm happy for you. I swear to God. When Annie called me, I said, 'Oh, my God, well, I don't think I've ever been so happy in my entire life!' Oh, I want a wedding so bad. Mine's not for another six months. Did you know I was getting married? Well, I am. But you're gonna look so beautiful tonight. I'm so jealous of you. Really. Sooooooooo jealous."
I nod and shut my eyes. I could have figured that out by now.

Wow. I forced a lot on you there. Sorry, guys. That was almost like literary rape. Props to you if you actually read all of that.

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