The bodyguard of Ronnie from “Jersey Shore” grabs my ass.
“Girls always say they can handle their liquor, but they can’t,” He smells like cheap Parmesan and fake Dolce and Gabbana.
Let’s be real: Ronnie probably doesn’t have a bodyguard. And even if he did, I don’t know what is more pathetic, the fact that this fat old man thinks that such a job title would be a pussy magnet or the fact that I accept his shot challenge. 10 Patron shots are lined up on the dirty bar, where I’ve done one too many body shots.
I cleanly take each shot without flinching. My college girlfriend had recently broken up with me and I was on a mission to get as drunk as humanly possible. Off to a good start. There was a serious shortage of out lesbians in Hempstead Long Island circa 2011, so for this evening, I settled on Ronnie’s bodyguard. It was a time when the prospect of attention and free drinks was still exciting.
I hurriedly shove myself in a bathroom stall to check her social media, publish that I am having THE BEST TIME EVER on mine, before she eventually texts me. It feels like a punch in the gut — which everybody says — but that’s cause it really fucking knocks you out to see her name on your screen.
I clunk out onto the green rickety patio, toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my brown SODA wedges that I got from Joyce Leslie, and drunkenly slur to the bodyguard “I’m a leeeSsssbbiiaANnn.”
I twist my ankle and am promptly kicked out of the bar, which is particularly embarrassing because I always have been able to handle my liquor and my heels, but tonight was really kicking my ass. Girls always say they can handle their liquor, but they can’t.
Have you ever been so heartbroken you don’t recognize yourself or where you are or who you’re with? I was with girls that were hardly my friends and would sail me up the river for a bump of coke at a Long Island bar I used to frequent with my ex, but suddenly, it looks all different and wrong. I’m in my body, which also feels all different and wrong. I’m definitely not in my mind.
I fall onto all fours, my bare knees on the Hempstead pavement, which is totally littered with condoms and Black ‘n’ Milds and needles, and heave like I’m doing cat pose in yoga. I vomit profusely onto the ground. This is the first time I’ve ever puked from drinking in my life. I just couldn’t handle seeing that text. The 10 tequila shots in a row probably didn’t help either. My butt cheeks hang out of my Hollister shorts and since I am hazey and kind of comfortable and since it is a warm August night, I consider taking a nap in the parking lot. Falling asleep sounds so comforting when you’re hurting.
But Gianna and Tay are out in the parking lot with me, holding my hair and yelling incoherently. They aren’t all there either. Gianna is mad at me because she was planning on hooking up with the DJ, who I kid you not, is named DJ Jionni Pops.
Why she even followed me out into the parking lot is beyond me, but then I remember I was carrying her ID and apartment key inside my bra because she wasn’t wearing one.
We pile into an Infiniti and back into bushes. I open Gianna’s Juicy Couture daydreamer bag and puke into it. Tay stops the car and kicks me out. This is the first time I’ve ever lost control. I’m usually the mom. I awake to a Rottweiler licking vomit out of my tangled hair extensions in a room I don’t recognize. Let me die here.
Nikki picks me up in her Benz, and we smoke cigarettes and eat bagels and drive over the bridge, back and forth, back and forth, up and over again. We listen to the “Rent” soundtrack and don’t ask questions or judge each other when we both burst into tears staring into the endless ocean, shoveling cream cheese in our faces singing “Seasons Of Love.” Our hands touch in only the way true family can. Let me die here.
“I’ve never touched a girl before,” she peels my too-tight crop top off my boobs and starts kissing them. I’m much taller than her and kind of feel like I’m nursing a baby as she sucks away at my nipple. I notice her weave tracks showing. She fingers me with long acrylic nails, and they really don’t feel as bad as every lesbian claims they would. Wait, no, that isn’t my clit. There’s an actual turd on the floor in the stall next to us. Let me die here.
We drive home in a blackout and I navigate verbally as she speeds through red lights blasting “Rob Zombie.” When we get home, we concoct a drunk meal from whatever we can: oatmeal with American cheese. I am ashamed to report: It was delicious. Let me die here.
“Is your lawn mowed like your head?” a balding man passes me a Jameson shot.
I have a buzzed head with shiny black leggings and thigh-high boots. I look like I should be in a bootleg version of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” or at some club in Bushwick, but I’m at the post office cafe in Long Island. My girlfriend and I get kicked out because they think we are selling sex.
“Will I ever see you again?” I want to physically suffocate myself in her curly brown hair, knowing that this will probably be the last time that we see each other. It’s real now, for some reason I can’t place. All the other never-see-you-agains were practice up until now. She cups my face in her hands, and though she’ll never love me the way I need to be loved, I know how much she loves me — almost desperately. Let me die here.
The Versace Mansion. I’m gliding through the pool, over gold, floating on champagne bubbles. A guy I went to high school with is unexpectedly the bartender and is graciously feeding me drinks and showing me private parts of the mansion — but not private parts of himself, because, thankfully, we are both gay. I had been with my incredibly loud Sicilian family, my mom fumbling with her phone while my aunt tries to teach her how to use Instagram, and my uncle slipping the bartender $100 bills because “He’s a good kid.” I’m driving my mom nuts as I keep shrieking to her from the pool, asking if she’ll make me baked ziti. She calls me a granuda, which means ball-buster in Italian. The scene isn’t the Lana video of my dreams. The girl I was supposed to hook up with that night has decided “It’s not a good idea,” and I’m totally peeing in the Versace pool. Let me die here.
But then, drunkenly reaching for my phone at 4 a.m. —
I’m between my mom and aunt in Gianni Versace’s bed, and it’s so tremendous that we aren’t even touching. It’s a shame that I’m spending time in a bed that was originally meant for gay orgies with my drooling and snoring family, but Instagram covers that up.
She picks me up in a Ferrari that she’s probably renting, and the way she slides her hand up my thigh but refuses to kiss me drives me insane. We blast Lana’s “Born To Die” album as loud as it will go while cruising down the coast going about 99. I do have a bad baby by my heavenly side, but if I go, I won’t die happy tonight. Then she pulls over and looks at me. Looks at me. Breathes on me. Come closer. Let me die here.
We spend the night (morning) together in a penthouse apartment that we drunkenly finagled. We cuddle. I’m topless in boy short underwear, and she’s in basketball shorts that straight men are notorious for wearing after sex. She leaves unceremoniously, and I order a case of Sauvignon blanc and a salmon poke bowl. I get wasted watching “The L Word,” then swim in the private pool, looking up at the cloudless sky, wondering where my purse went. Let me die here.
My mom would bring me to the park, and push and push until I went “too high.” I didn’t want to stop flying. But I didn’t want to fall. “Higher, Ma.” The trees grew larger, then smaller, then larger, then blurred. The swing slowed down. Another ex and I smoked on swings. The trees grew larger, then smaller, then larger, then blurred. We walked home — didn’t kiss. And, like I was in high school again, I became aware of how my hair and my fingers smelled. I took off my boots, crept upstairs, changed my clothes, and washed my hands before kissing my sleeping father’s forehead. Riding backward on the train, I wait for the conductor to say “Pinelawn Cemetery.” I could die here. The trees grow larger, then smaller, then larger, then blur.
Off the bus to my Greek babysitter. “Yia Yia, can I please have french fries?” She gives me all the food I’m normally not allowed to have, and I gorge to my heart’s content. She calls me her beautiful girl. Once, I chug so many Hi-C’s that I puke down my JC Penny shirt. I still want more. Let me die here.
The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Long Island Railroad. Green spray painted hair and beer belches. No, really, let me die here.
When she touches me, I’m transported to seemingly insignificant moments: a gas station bathroom, a grocery store aisle, losing my tooth in the dollar store. I thought this meant that I was gifted — clairvoyant maybe — but google says I might have PTSD.
She’s kissing me, and I’m here, I’m so here, but I’m also in my childhood bedroom cutting up J-14 magazines making a collage. I’m also renting a video at Blockbuster. I’m coming, I’m in love, but I’m at my first-grade desk.
I’m getting a tattoo for her. It doesn’t hurt; it tickles. She’ll hurt me later, but the way I like. Dahlia. Dahlia, Dahlia, Dahlia. Let me die here.