I don't drink very much. When I was younger, this was because I was a little afraid of the world and of losing control of myself in it, but I've since realized that, as Judith Weinstock once wrote in a student journal, "Control is an illusion, but organization is possible." Even with that epiphany that eliminates any moral resistance to drunkenness, I still do not normally drink very much. I do not normally get drunk because, I'll be honest with you, I'm a puker. I'm not talking alcohol-poisoning-kneeling-at-the-toilet-at-the-end-of-the-night-please-hold-my-hair puking. One can easily grow up out of that stage. I mean that I'll have a couple of drinks, start feeling like I need a little air and on my way out the door, if there's a garbage can, I'll just boot a little right into it. There's no heaving involved. One second, the contents are in my stomach, the next second, they're projectiling out of my mouth. If there's no garbage can, my body waits until I get to the gutter. Then, I have to wipe off my mouth and go find a glass of water. Then I have to wash my hands, because that's usually all I have with which to wipe off my mouth.
It's pretty gross.
So, I don't normally get drunk. However, last night I found myself driving south on I-55 towards Bloomington with the fall scent of burning leaves in my nose with just that intent.
It's all Erika's fault. She stayed in Bloomington, where we went to college together, so when I go down to see her, we often end up hitting the bars together. We dance, we sing, we hit on guys. I lose my filter that normally keeps my thoughts of people walking by from actually being spoken. Erika takes me home early. And, I usually end up puking at some point in the evening. Last night was no different.
But it was all worth it.
The purpose of my trip was three-fold: Erika was my only friend to come visit me out on the island and since she couldn't come up to the party, I wanted to make sure I saw as soon as possible; Erika bought a condo that by all accounts was stunning, so I wanted to see it and bring her a housewarming present; and the band Maggie Speaks was playing at a local bar. I had only seen Maggie Speaks once before, with Erika, in Bloomington, at Springfest. But when she sent out an email to everyone saying that she would host anyone who wanted to see them again, I was eager.
Maggie Speaks is a little like professional wrestling. They are utterly entertaining and one feels slightly ashamed for enjoying something so cheesy so very very much. Maggie Speaks is a cover band. They play a set list of songs right out of every 16-35 year old's personal greatest hits album. If a group of drunk people can sing along to it, they'll play it. And they'll play it well. Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" would be a great example. Everyone can and does sing along to "Cecilia" in a party atmosphere. Bo bo bo bo-oh bo, [two-part harmony here] bo bo bo bo bo bo bo bo-oh-oh. They'll follow it up with "Hey Yah" and then play James Brown's "Sex Machine." It's fantastic. My personal favorite mini-set began with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which segued into Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice, Baby," and rounded out with "Bust-A-Move." I had completely forgotten that at one point in my life, I knew all the words to "Bust A Move." But, your best friend Harry has a brother Larry and in five weeks from now he's going to marry. He's hoping you can make it there if you can, 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man.
In addition to the music, I had one of the best times out at a club that I've ever had. I think this was because I was totally unconcerned with attracting guys. Having been really loved recently by a great guy made a huge difference. I had no need for someone else's approval. However, I called Erika before I left and asked her what she was wearing. She hesitated for a little bit and gave me some vague responses, so I narrowed it down, "Are you sparkly?" Yes. "Is there cleavage?" Yes.
I'm not good at either sparkly or cleavage. I've spent the last year or so on an island where we wouldn't ever bother putting out on the shelf at the re-use center any shoes that weren't boots, gym shoes or water shoes. We simply sent high heels right on to the Salvation Army on the mainland. Unless I'm wearing long sleeves, when I raise my arms, my armpit hair is visible. Raising one's arms is essential when singing along to the J. Geils Band's "Angel is a Centerfold." So, after trying on several tops that wouldn't match how good Erika was bound to look, I finally decided to go like an island girl. It worked well for my reunion, I figured I'd be comfortable. So, I wore my hot jeans, which are fairly baggy, my hiking boots and a navy T-shirt that said, "Babelicious" in the logo style of the bubble gum, Bubbalicious. The logo was sparkly pink, but it was a classic style T-shirt so there was no cleavage. It's amazing how different a night at a club can be as a female when one does not offer one's breasts up for general perusal. Not one guy asked my name, sidled up to grind on me or offered to buy a drink. I'm certainly not saying that normally I'm the center of attention, but my experience is generally that guys tend to like to dance with me in those environments. But last night, not one. It was fantastic.
Because my self-esteem was not tied up in finding a guy and guys weren't bothering me, I was free to actually watch the dynamic of the Bloomington club scene, while still singing along to "Sweet Home Alabama." It's fascinating. Although there are many nice and fun people in Bloomington, very few of them are hip or edgy. Hip, edgy people tend to move to Chicago. So, when most of the folks in their 20's in Bloomington get dressed to go out, their costumes all tend to resemble each other's. Sparkly tank tops in both the strapless and spaghetti-strap styles, most with a faux lingerie look: shiny satin with edging in lace. Tight jeans on girls, carpenter-style jeans to show off the guy's cute asses. T-shirts of various brand names (Nautica, Tommy, etc) on the guys. Lots of ball caps on guys and dangly, rhinestone earrings for the girls. Pointy-toed leather stiletto shoes for the girls. It was like Seventeen magazine come to life before my very eyes. I kept just walking around and peering into corners to make sure I saw everything with this huge grin on my face because watching the crowd and making observations in my head was the same kind of fun as watching wrestling or Maggie Speaks. Plus, I got to see just how ridiculously women will act in order to appear sexy to men. They'll practically swallow the phallus, excuse me, microphone that gets aimed at their mouths to sing the chorus of "Save a horse, ride a cowboy," tipping their heads up because the stage puts them right at the level they would be if they were on their knees. Towards the end of the evening, these pretty, slutty girls have disappeared (I wonder where) and the front of the stage gets crowded with girls that really aren't that drunk and really aren't all that confident in themselves. My brother used to call their type, "the homelies." Girls with nice personality and I really found myself really respecting them. These are girls that can't or won't sacrifice time from what they're actually interested in order to learn how to put on make-up or wear contacts. They won't spend money on expensively designed club clothes that they know will only end up sweaty and will maybe just a little of someone else's beer and/or vomit on them. (Innocent, on all counts, I'll have you know.) However, they've realized that no matter how much smarter than most of the guys they are, they do, indeed, have their own cleavage and they show it off. I can imagine them shopping and getting dressed with their roommates, prodding and daring each other into skimpier and skimpier outfits. As a matter of fact, I can see that scene, because I have been and probably still am one of them. But I respect them because they are not wallflowers. They are right up at the stage, singing along to Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl" and enjoying time out with their girlfriends. Most of them probably nurse a secret hope that they'll find a guy there (why else the display of decolletage?) but deep down they know that they probably wouldn't like the type of guy they'd meet in a bar anyway. Really. I loved them.
So, the climax of the evening came after I had spent some time sitting outside with my back against the brick wall of the building for awhile. There had been a garbage can available, so I could actually stick around outside, rather than having to disassociate myself from the mess that I had made. (The last time I had sat against this wall, a giant pink gorilla came and gave me a hug, then handed me a CD. How's that for creepy drunken surreal?) I went back inside and after awhile, I realize that we were, indeed coming to the climax of the evening because the lighting effects shifted to more white lights, rather than the muted fresnels that they had been using to emphasize the choruses. I also noticed that lots of arms were pumping the air and the volume of the crowd singing along had increased. Maggie Speaks had read their crowd correctly and were playing a medley of Bon Jovi songs to great effect. Ohh, we're half-way the-ere, Oh-oh, livin' on a pre-air. The crowd went wild and called for an encore after the band left the stage.
The encore? AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long." Of course.
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