“If I was a character on ‘The L Word’ which character do you think I would be?” My former girlfriend and current frenemy, Maya* asks one dismal Saturday night over drinks in The West Village.
Matty* a gorgeous pale blonde gay-boy with large, saucer-like, petal blue-eyes and a deeply tanned complexion (compliments of “Jergens Natural Glow”) chimes in before I had the chance to scream “You’re a TINA!”
“You are such a SHANE!” He squeals in gay boy delight. “You’re that hot, swaggy, androgynous creature, who can fuck anyone she wants.”
I feel my blood begin to boil.
“She is not a Shane!” I loudly shout, frightening the sweet straight couple innocently sipping on their white wine spritzers at the table to our left. I lower my head and glare at the two of them, dead in their bleary-drunken eyes. “I’m the Shane.” I whisper.
“Hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!” Maya and Matty both explode with laughter in perfect unison, Champagne flying out of their flared nostrils.
“Why is that funny? Is it because I’m a femme? You think a femme can’t have a lot of one-night stands? I know for fact that I have more one-night stands than both of you. Combined.” I take a prim sip of my cocktail and reach into my bag to apply yet another layer of bright red lipstick to my mouth, as I’m wont to do when I’m attempting to suppress an irrational bout of anger.
“HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHA!” Maya and Matty are hysterical now, falling over each other, gasping for air, tears running down their scrunched up faces.
“Fine. I’m not a Shane. Whatever. Which character do you bitches think I am, then?” I ask certain they are going to tell me I’m an obvious “Carmen.”
“Honey. Baby. Zara. Don’t you know? You’re a Jenny. A text book Jenny.”
I clench my fists underneath the table. “I’m not a JENNY! How the hell am I a Jenny? You’re just saying that because we both have dark hair and big eyes!”
“Why do you think it’s bad to be a Jenny, Z?” Maya asks, smugly. “Every friend group needs a Jenny, just like every friend group needs a Shane.” I can energetically feel Maya’s ego inflating with each passing second. Great. I think to myself, grimly. My ex gets to be the hot character that everyone wants to have sex with and I get to be crazy Jenny who ruins everyone’s lives? Uh, this is a wake-up call, to say the least.
“Every friend group needs a Jenny to make them feel better about themselves,” I huff, looking into the distance. “Give me a cigarette.” I snatch a Marlboro right out of Matty’s pack. I light it up and dramatically blow three perfect rings of smoke out of my bright red lips. “You know, Maya. You weren’t a Shane until you met me. I taught you everything you know about sex. You were such a rookie baby dyke when we first met.” I purr, bitchily, making a big show of my new prop, my cigarette. Inhaling, exhaling and ashing like my life depends on it.
“Uh, you’re taking credit for my reputation of being stellar in bed? That is the most ‘Jenny’ thing a lesbian could possibly do.” Maya says, a large, shit-eating grin lesbian-spreading across her thin face.
“And the way she’s smoking all angsty and tortured! SO JENNY! Jenny, are you going to ‘journal’ about this later? Am I going to be in the newly revamped ‘lez girls’ script? Jenny, Oh, Jenny tell us everything!” Matty taunts, clutching an imaginary string of pearls around his neck.
Later that night, I’m very, very, very drunk and can’t find my credit card anywhere. “I’ll get you an uber,” Maya says, steadying me as I stumble onto seventh avenue.
“Nooooo. I can take care of myselffff.” I slur, tripping on a crack in the pavement.
“Ah, no you clearly can’t. You’ve lost your credit card and you live all the way on the Upper East Side. So I’m going to get you an uber and you’re going to take it home. Shit. Do you even know where your keys are, Zara?” Maya looks irritated and begins biting her nails furiously.
“Yesh. Of coursh.” I stick my hand in my purse and fish around for my keys. “They’re right here.” I lie because I’m too proud to admit I might have not only lost my credit card but the keys to my apartment, too.
“Um. I don’t believe you. God damn it, Z! I was going to invite Lisa over and now I have to take care of you. You’re such a clam-jammer.”
“What’s a clam-jammer?”
“A clam-jam. The lesbian version of a cock-block.”
“Ohhh.” I twirl into the street as Maya body slams me back onto the sidewalk, rescuing me from getting hit by a car.
We ride in the taxi back to her house in silence. I gaze out the window and watch my beloved city fly past me. “New York is soooo prettty, Maya. Isn’t it soooo pretty?” I sing-song, as I shut my heavy eyes and fall asleep, drooling all over the window pane.
The next thing I know the brutal morning sun is bleeding through the blinds of Maya’s apartment and I’m in the throes of an alcohol-withdrawal-induced panic attack.
“What the FUCK am I doing here!” I yelp, sitting upright like a Meerkat. I notice Maya sleeping on the couch, with no blanket. I quickly proceed to notice that her blanket is wrapped around me. Oops.
“You blacked out and lost your keys, and I took you home, asshole,” Maya mumbles.
“Oh. My. God. I’m the Jenny Schecter, aren’t I? I’m the high-maintenance friend with all the problems all the time? Shit, I even write about all you of guys in illicit detail and publish the stories on the internet! And I’m the ex-girlfriend you, Maya, can’t seem to get rid of, just like Jenny is with Max and Shane and everyone else she ever dated.” I sigh.
Maya smiles. “Yup.”
Time stands still for a moment as I process this hard-to-swallow truth. I really am like Jenny. Not only am I a writer who writes mediocre lesbian gossip garble, I also cut my hair off when I first came out just like Jenny did and got hair-extensions right away. I’m melodramatic and tend to take on terrible art projects examining my (self-indulgent) pain from the past. I like to wear over-the-top fetish-y outfits and I look really good with bangs too.
“Look, Zara. Jenny might not always be the most loved character on ‘The L Word’ but really, she adds so much. It’s not so bad being a Jenny. I mean half the plot revolves around her!”
I feel my lips curl into a smile. “You’re right.”
“And Jenny did have some killer outfits. And she got a really big book deal that turned into a movie deal! Isn’t that like your dream?” Maya walks over to the bed and sits next to me.
“Yes. I guess it’s not so bad to be a Jenny.”
“It’s not as good as being a Shane.” Maya punches me softly in the arm.
“I still don’t think you’re a Shane, but I’ll let you have it since I get a book deal and get to be rich off my art, like Jenny.”
“That’s the most Jenny thing you’ve ever said.”
We laugh and spend the rest of the day watching L-Word re-runs trying to figure out who everyone else in our group is, now that Jenny and Shane are spoken for.