By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
The new year swaggered in and bitch-slapped me hard the kind of smackdown the universe delivers to tell a person to wake up or knock it off. Or something. I'm still not quite sure. All I know is it had my attention.
Let me break it down: I'd just returned from a vacation (another one) in Finland, where my man informed me he would be staying put indefinitely. My three best amigas just got 86ed from the social rotation (one gave birth to her first daughter; one got fired and took an interim night job; and the other proved herself a less-than-faithful friend.) And at the ol' day job, things were looking less than spiffy pretty bleak, actually. And don't even get me started on the ten pounds I'd put on.
So feeling abandoned, unemployed, and fat on the first Saturday in 2007, I was glum. But not defeated. I was still the Night Rider, after all, so I strapped on my nifty Mary Janes, pasted a perma-smile on my face, and went to see friends Keith Michaud and Rob Nieminen (another Finn! Maybe I'm becoming a groupie?) play an acoustic gig at the Cottage.
And then did what I do best insinuated myself into the crowd. I joined Keith's girlfriend, Chelcey, at the table just outside the French doors where the guys were set up. And Rob's girl, Charlene, and her friend Alexia claimed the other seats. Instant friends! Things were looking better already, especially when the girls provided me with some perspective.
"You don't know the rat lady?" Chelcey gasped, setting her empty tequila shot down, her brown eyes wide in disbelief when I asked who they were talking about.
"She goes around with two rats on her shoulder," Alexia explained excitedly, conjuring my memories of seeing such a woman several times as I drove down Federal Highway in Lake Worth. "She was telling me in the gas station that 'Daisy' got out and came home pregnant."
It was a great reminder to count my blessings. At least I wasn't looking at becoming a rat granny. Nor was I, as our waitress reminded me, the worst case this Lake Worth lounge had seen.
"A crackhead was in here for like five days last week," our server, Seabrin, said with a gentle laugh. "She was dancing with the heating lamp and ranting about all the crazy MFers in Lake Worth, and then she started to bend a fork to use it as a weapon to protect herself. She's not welcome back."
So as long as I didn't dance with appliances, molest the flatware, or carry morally irresolute vermin around, I figured I could pass myself off as someone who had it pretty much together. Tonight, at least, and that was reason to celebrate. So I ordered a beer a light one mindful of the calories despite the array of interesting drafts a cherry wheat, a Belgian ale, a hefeweizen, a pear cider among them.
Keith was playing an original, singing "My compass cracked; it spins around" as the moon beamed at me through the fringe of the palm fronds and the ocean breeze inspired the votives to dance. Inside, the colors of the stained glass behind the bar reminded me of a dreamy Chagall, and the hanging candleholders above the bar made it feel like a place of worship. OK, so maybe I had no idea where I was going or what was coming next in my life, but I was living in the moment.
The roar of a motorcycle broke the reverie and inspired Alexia to talk about herself since her boyfriend builds custom bikes. I asked her what she did for work.
When she said she was an aesthetician whose specialty was eyelash extensions a service that costs $300 I asked, "Can I get some big ol' drag-queen eyelashes?" (Hey, for that kind of money, I'd want my peeper sweepers man-sized.)
I was joking, but she's serious about her work.
"Oh, no. It'd break your lashes," she said. "It's getting a bad rap because people don't know what they're doing, and they take two to three hours and put on lashes that are too long and break the clients' natural lashes."
"Do you think people getting boob implants are making a similar mistake?" I asked.
An eruption of feminine laughter filled the air. Then everyone shared a faux-globes encounter.
"I used to work at Blue Martini, and every time someone got her boobs done, they'd go to the bathroom and everyone would feel them," Charlene reported.
"I met a woman at Dada who had just gotten implants, and she made me feel them, and then like two months later, she tried to introduce herself to me again," Chelcey recalled. "I was like, 'Yeah, I know you. You had me feel your implants.' And she was like, 'No, I didn't.' And I was like 'No, you're right. Yeah, I made that up. '"
Pulling apart the lychee that garnished her martini with her fingers, Alexia chimed in, "Someone asked me once where I had mine done."
We all looked down at her healthy cleavage.