Farms, Freak Shows, & The Future

Babylon to Penn Station. Penn Station to St Jeromes. Jeromes to a “secret location.” A spray painted school bus to a warehouse in Greenpoint. Susanne Bartsch. Flashing lights. Open bar.  I accidentally follow Solange to her private car.

4 am, Chrystie Street: I’m guzzling champagne like I’m going to the chair. 6am, Sugar: I’m ordering pancakes and gossiping at the now defunct diner full of construction workers and burlesque dancers.  8:45 am, the Long Island Railroad: Help me. 10am, Babylon Station: My dad picks me up, and I beg him to stop at Starbucks. 

“Are you frigging kidding me? There’s a cawffee pot at home!” He pretends to be annoyed but he stops every time.

At home, I buff out of my eyeliner, add some black shadow and another layer of concealer, twist my 26 inch hair extensions into a bun directly on top of my head, throw on black Spanx leggings, platform boots, black onyx earrings in the shape of snakes, a maroon polo that says HARBES FARM and a name tag that says DAYNA: BARNYARD ADVENTURE REPRESENTATIVE. 

My journey through the tunnel of downtown and drugs has come to a close and now it’s time to start up my Subaru, put on Lana Del Rey, and take the Sunrise Highway all the way to my severely ironic job on a farm. 

Libby, a tiny white goat greets me every morning, and follows me around as I refill the hand sanitizer and goat food dispensers throughout the BARNYARD ADVENTURE.

Harbes Farm attracts wealthy tourists and city dwellers looking for the perfect Instagram post with one of the following objects: a candy apple, a pumpkin, a wine bottle, or a cider donut, with one of the following captions: wine not?, Pumpkin spice and everything nice, or picked the best one (insert apple emoji here). On weekdays, when there is a lull from the flannel-clad teenagers and hot moms with french manicures, after I’m done with my tasks that include making sure the Sirius XM station is always tuned to “family bluegrass,” I stealthily slide my laptop out from my fake Gucci bag covered in questionable stains and frantically refresh my email, anxious to see if any editors have gotten back to me. 

I ignore the sound of the phone ringing (I mean, who calls a fucking farm?) and shoot Libby a look that says “keep your snout shut.” She dutifully eats a random piece of lint off the floor and pretends not to see me typing away like a junkie instead of answering the phone. It’s time to pitch another editor. The editor of an esteemed lesbian publication. 

Dear Editor, 

Picture the grimiest dive bar you know. Combine that with the most disgusting porta-potty you’ve ever peed in.  Combine that with the crowd that’s on the Long Island Railroad the day of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Multiply that by a million and you have The Dizzy Lizard Saloon. This is where I met my first serious girlfriend. At Hofstra University in 2011, we were still deep in our Jersey Shore phase—Ed Hardy shirts, bejeweled Blackberry cases, spray tans. I’d love to write an essay for GO Magazine on navigating an aggressively heterosexual space in a lesbian relationship. Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? please please please or I’ll kill myself please

I click send and before I can celebrate with a visit to the PIG PEN PALOOZA, a family of 5 comes in to buy BARNYARD ADVENTURE tickets. 

“Hi! Welcome to Harbes! Are you ready to embark on your b–” don’t say butthole, don’t say butthole – “BARNYARD ADVENTURE?” 

“PetUH,  look the nice lady in the eye when she gives you your wristband.”

I don’t care if you look me in the nipples, just hurry up so I can refresh my email.

Finally, a break in customers gives me a chance to fling my laptop open so hard I send an acrylic nail ricocheting into the apple cider donut machine in the process. 

Hi Dayna,

I absolutely LOVE this idea, it’s been so long since I’ve got a pitch that excites me, so thank you. 

Fully approved.

My fingers slam into the keyboard and I practically foam at the mouth as I write the entire essay in under an hour behind the register. When I come up for air, Libby is eyeing me. “Weirdo,” she baaas under her breath and trots away. “And don’t forget to refill the goat food dispenser at my station,” she calls behind her, wagging her stumpy little tail, while my fingers still tremble over my laptop. 

When the day is over, I speed home with a banana and a Diet Coke dangling out of my purple MAC smeared lips and I’m already pulling my work shirt off before I walk in the front door. I throw on a latex black catsuit and douse myself in Miss Dior. Dad offers to drive me to the LIRR. Like taking candy from a baby. 

“Why are you always wearing ya underwears?” he asks as he shoves a windbreaker that’s been in the closet since 1993 into my arms. He stops at Starbucks after putting up a fake protest. I leave the windbreaker in the car. Babylon to Penn Station. Penn Station to St Jeromes. Jeromes to a “secret location.” A spray painted school bus to a warehouse in Greenpoint. Susanne Bartsch. Flashing lights. Open bar.  I accidentally follow Solange to her private car. I have to be back on the farm in 6 hours, but I can’t resist the siren call of the Lower East Side. The Box. Again.

My favorite bathroom attendant, steadfast as ever, is still there, wearing a tuxedo and refilling mints in her dark and ornate prison of fake gold and velvet, flushing toilets and raw nostrils, high-pitched moans and cheap tips, cold water and cold treatment, old cologne and young girls, porcelain sinks, porcelain skin, porcelain lines.  

We’re packed in like sardines and I can’t even see the performers, which is honestly fine with me. If the legendary Rose Wood isn’t performing at The Box, I don’t really care what goes on on stage. Sure, burlesque dancers might be hot, but are they dressed as Anna Wintour and plunging their ass with copies of Vogue, pushing around a shopping cart and hurling shit at the audience, emptying a condom on a wealthy foreign Prince, or lighting their penis on fire while crying blue mascara tears? I didn’t think so. 

After clinking champers with hot bearded gay men and skinny models, my friend Gabe whisks me off to a “sound exhibit” which just plays audio of a car crash over and over. Lady Starlight, dressed in a marching band costume, idly spins on a record player. I wish Libby was here, I think to myself when I see a club kid wearing hooves.

I spend my entire paycheck on an Uber straight to work from Sugar. My eyes beg to close and I drink blue Gatorade while Libby judges me. 

“At least my brother doesn’t hump me,” I snicker while I scoop her up in my arms. I send another pitch to GO’s editor before turning on the Bluegrass family Sirius XM station. If I have to hear “Wagon Wheel” one more time, I might jump in front of a tractor. She emails me back instantly and serotonin cha-chas through my brain. 

After my “10 Reasons Why Jenny Schecter Is A Feminist Icon” pitch is approved, I cash my farm paycheck and speed to the only acceptable restaurant in my hometown. I prop myself at the bar with my laptop, order a bottle of red wine and burrata and bang on my keyboard the way I’d imagine Frank Zappa would madly compose a song or a witch would cast a spell. “La Vie En Rose” is playing and I silently thank Lana Del Rey as a tear splashes out from my lash extensions. I pray this will be the last time I am eating dinner on Montauk Highway in suburbia.

Two weeks later, I will step into the role of an editor for one of America’s preeminent and most widely read lesbian magazines. My email dings and I look around as if Ashton Kutcher is going to come out with the “Punked” camera crew any second.

 I definitely would love to have you write more and–actually I don’t know if you’re interested in applying but we are hiring a writer/editor right now to join our team! I think you would be a great fit! 

Goat shit, stage shit. Glitter bombs, piles of dirt. Paychecks, eight balls. Dad’s car, Sophia Lamar. $15 an hour, $2k a bottle. Maroon polo, black latex catsuit. Lighters and candy apples. Purple lips and pumpkin patches. Stables and strangers. Finish the bottle. Press send.

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