posted on August 28, 2011 18:45
It had been that kind of a week. She had attempted to slay dragons, put out fires and conquer the forces of evil for days...unsuccessfully. By Saturday, all she wanted to do was lay in bed with the covers over her head.
Certain phrases had started to repeat themselves throughout her life, and they were really starting to piss her off. More than once in the past month she had heard the same placation to “enjoy life” spoken from people who hadn't once taken the time to discover what, in her very intelligent, fully functioning, self-reliant mind, would constitute “enjoying life”. The other phrase she kept hearing was “when you stop looking for it, it would come.” She had already started forming a plan to carry around an air horn to punish the next person that uttered that mindless, thoughtless garbage. This was how people ended up on rooftops with uzi's, she thought to herself, when the world around you stops listening and offers worn out clichés of bullshit.
She had successfully managed to sleep most of Saturday, which was a welcome change. And considering work didn't start until around 12:30 am, she had more than enough time to do it. Just today, she figured, she got a pass. Today, she got to tell the world to fuck off.
By 11:00 she had to start getting ready. You can't just grab a camera and go anywhere; you have to look the part. Looking down at the clutter of makeup and accoutrements scattered on her bathroom countertop, her eye rested on a small and often overlooked lipstick case. Tonight was the night, she thought. Tonight she would wear the red lipstick.
A man would never understand the power and fear encased in a small bullet of wax colored a bold ruby red. A woman had to have a certain feminine prowess and confidence to don such a daring shade. Red lipstick surpassed trends and seasonal colors. It was a statement. It was a definition. It was a mindset. And it was just the sort of mindset she needed tonight. But this was a ritual. You couldn't just slap on a color like this. This was like the samurai getting ready for battle. It required time, occasion and deliberate movements. However, first things first, she thought.
If you are going to wear red red red lipstick, that means something has to be sacrificed. So, rather than spend time making her eyes pop, she lined them with a light blurry black line; just enough to make her gray eyes stand out. That was enough for tonight. Tonight her eyes were the second act to her mouth. But no one was going to get close enough to figure that out. It was just her secret. No one else really mattered. With the steady hands of a surgeon, she carefully traced her Cupid’s bow mouth with the sanguine color. For sheen, she went over her mouth again with a gloss.
Standing back, she gazed in the bathroom mirror. There they were: two ruby red lips. The question was, could she pull off everything they stood for.
No heels tonight. She hadn't worn heels on the job in over a year. She had to be part sexpot, part ass kicker. It was much easier to be an ass kicker in heavy black boots. She sauntered into her front room where her camera bag waited by the front door. It seemed it was always there, waiting. She carelessly dropped one arm and picked up the bag by the padded strap and grunted as she slung it over her shoulder. Over the years, it had grown heavier with the lessons she'd learned the hard way: extra flash batteries, extra camera batteries, her own business cards, the cards of whoever she was freelancing for that night, Excedrin, wallet, cell, cash, lens cleaner, bracket, screwdriver, a small wrench, bobby pins, pens and makeup. She grabbed her keys, car and apartment, and opened her front door.
Outside, her boots echoed in the breezeway as she turned around to lock her door. Not far off she heard laughter and assumed her new neighbors were sitting on their balcony ensconced in another of their late night Guitar Hero parties. She imagined them propped up on their railing, sweaty drinks in hand talking about chicks they want to “bang”, watching her walk across the blacktop to her car. Ironically, she thought, she was going where the “bang-worthy”, or DTF, chicks were, and they were sitting in their apartment playing video games.
The car roared to life as the radio, alive from her last drive, blared the sounds of Z107. With one hand, she lowered the windows, while the other opened the moon roof. She needed wind tonight. Shifting into gear, Enrique Igelsias pounding a beat, she flew out of the parking lot, leaving the Guitar Hero chick-bangers behind.
It didn't take a genius to see the club was busy. There was a line out front. Police parked in an obvious place to act as a deterrent. They weren't on-duty, of course, but they still wore their uniforms. Rolling up the windows, she scanned for a parking place. Once parked, she turned off the radio, and shut down the car. Alone in the quiet, she took a deep breathe, a little ritual, and then climbed out.
Outside, groups of friends headed towards the club. Girls, in heels too high to navigate the crumbling sidewalks, clung to boys in shirts one or two sizes too small. But they could all pull it off. The guys had the kind of muscles that were evident even through a t-shirt, and the girls usually had one or two delicately feminine tattoos flirtatiously disappearing and reappearing under a hem somewhere on their bodies as they walked. Of course everyone was talking loud. A few drinks coupled with the rhythmic thud even outside the club meant everything was funnier, louder and more crass. It was definitely Saturday night. She walked to the passenger side of the car and briefly did a makeup and hair check in the car window before liberating the camera bag.
As she rounded the corner to the front door, she noticed people turned to look. She knew it wasn't her looks or clothes that were getting the attention, but her attitude. She walked with a purpose, as though she belonged, and it made her stand out among the drunken throngs. Soon, if they watched closely, they would see why she walked that way. With a slight respectful nod to the off-duty police, she floated near the front door guy who took one look at the cumbersome camera bag, scoured his memory for her face, and then waved her in. In less than five seconds, she was inside the club.
With a sharp right, she navigated the dance floor to the steps of the stage. Schlumping down into a black leather sofa next to a bizarrely out-of-place armless mannequin, she went about the business of setting up her camera. In front of her the dance floor was starting to fill up while Goony-On-The-Drums sat down and began to twirl his drumsticks around his fingers. To her right, an emcee had a mic tucked in his back pocket as he lounged against a table checking his iPhone. DJ Deception was at the turntables; lights backlit him as he exhaled cigarette smoke. Smiling, she mused to herself how little effort it took for these guys to be so cool. And here she was with her stupid-ass red lips. She wondered if they could see how much she was faking it. It was so painfully obvious to her.
The world shakes inside a club. The floor, walls, ceiling, furniture, railings, bars, drinks and people all respond to the bass as it thuds a sensual intoxicating escape from real-life problems. As the drinks flow, the boldness increases and she watched with fascination as the dance began.
Standing on the edge of the stage, camera armed and ready, her eyes scan the crowd. It's best to just watch in the beginning, she's learned. You must wait until the people are a few drinks in, the hemlines ride high and the heels come off before the photos get really good. She ponders how often people think she's trying to capture embarrassing photographs of the club goers. Although she could, being a professional observer, she isn't that mean-spirited. She doesn't seek out the fall-down-drunk people, just the ones having a good time. The point of her photographs are simple: 1. Make the crowd look like it was composed of beautiful people 2. Make it look like it was a fun time and 3. Make the viewer of the photographs wish he/she had been there. Busting drunken bachelorettes and shooting up inside skirts is not her job, nor would she do it if it were.
The emcee has pulled out his mic and walks around the stage, the king of the kingdom, with a bottle of Apple Pucker. Offering free shots to the ladies, he stands like a priest at the Altar of Alcohol as they line up beneath him, mouths agape. She shoots to the side and catches the candy-colored liquid as it splashes over the face of a girl, like an alien cum shot. For a second, the emcee looks at the photog and screams over the music that he really wishes the girls would stop dancing when he does this. Shifting the bottle to his other hand, he wipes his hands on his jeans and makes a face. Then the girls overtake the stage....
One by one, they climb on either by hoisting themselves up or by way of the stairs. With a rapt audience they raise their arms, let their shirts inch higher, and throw back their heads in the timeless dance and celebration of youth. Where the girls go, the boys will follow. It isn't long before one or two guys go after the easy pickings on the stage. These are the times she's grateful not to be noticed. The camera can be a wonderful ally when dealing with a group of people that don't want evidence of their actions. Watching Deception, he cricks his neck to listen to the headphones while simultaneously smoking, like out of some modern day film noir. She turns off her flash to capture the hazy light as it cradles him. Reviewing the saturated image in the screen of the camera, she smiles to herself. No one will care about the photo on the site where it will appear, but she knows she scored a good one. At that moment, she sees one of the new guys on stage come over to “offer his assistance” to DJ Deception. In shock, she watches as he reaches over and attempts to scratch one of the records on the turntable. Without missing a beat, literally, Deception shoos off the hand, and the man.
To her left, the stage dancing girls have discovered Goony-On-The-Drums. Surrounded by three blondes, bouncing in unison with his resonating pounding, they run their hands over him like lovers. Amazed at his ability to keep time, she picks up her camera to get the dancing Ménage à trois, but the flying hair obscures the faces. Doesn't matter, she thinks, the point is made. Goony takes a moment of pause and leans back against Blonde #1 and lets his hands, drumstick still laced in his fingers, slide up her exposed thigh. Blonde #1 smiles widely as she experiences shivers of sensuality from the rockstar on stage.
Silently, she watches and records it all. It's a world where no one thinks they are seen, but everyone is watching.
The night is coming to a close but she still has one shot she wants. She floats stage right and finds a classically bad-ass hot guy standing next to the speaker. Although she has always hated asking for help, one thing she has learned in this business is that asking gets you pretty far. Shifting the camera to her opposite hand, she floats her fingers down his arm to get his attention and then screams in his ear for him to back up. Predictably, he does, without knowing why. So, he is surprised when she grabs his shoulder and uses him as an anchor to stand on the arm of the black leather sofa. Lifting her arms over her head, the camera rises up like a nighttime sun, and with the fish eye, she captures it all: the stage, the lights, the DJ, the drummer, the emcee, the crowds, the speakers. Thanking Bad-Ass Hot Guy she climbs down, reviewing the photo. It's another one that will be disregarded in the grand scheme of people looking for photos of themselves, but another winner nonetheless.
She starts to pack up her camera as Deception lights another cigarette. Crossing the stage, Goony-On-The-Drums has removed his shirt, much to the delight of his trio of lovers. Out the door, her ears resonate a dull whine that she is sure will fade overnight. At her car, she falls inside gracelessly, exhausted. For a second, the platitudes she's been hearing return to her busy mind. “Enjoy life”. She rolls her eyes in response. It's a credo she dismisses out of hand. She's too smart to adopt such a simple attitude. Life is more complex, at least, outside of the club. She brings the car to life and turns off the radio for a little silence. Spinning the rearview mirror, she finds her red lipstick is long since gone, but the stain remains, and will be there the next morning.