Friday, December 11, 2009

Come to the Water

Saturday night I attended something I’m still hard-pressed to explain. It was kind of a party and kind of a group book-signing and kind of a poetry-reading and it took place in a beauty salon which is also an art gallery located in Burbank, a city best known for Jay Leno and a small airport helpfully located near a Krispy Kreme.

I was invited by a friend of a friend. The invitation gave me the sneaking suspicion I’d be the least-cool person there -- a feeling I’ve had once or twice before. I attempted to compensate for my goofiness by fixating on how much I hate my hair and creating the perfect outfit. Which is to say, I spent Saturday afternoon recreating myself at fourteen, pouting and flinging clothes on to the bed. It took longer than I’m prepared to admit, but by the time I left, I felt as close to confident as I ever feel. I had on a pair of light-yellow corduroy pants, my favorite black and white thin-striped sweater and a pair of quirky caramel-colored leather heels. Trust me, it worked. Yes, I know this is almost exactly what I wear every day, but this was different; there were heels. And in a moment of inspiration, I grabbed a patterned scarf and tied it around my neck. The gods of fashion smiled on me; the striped sweater and the patterned scarf shouted “European,” not “Insane.” My hair almost didn’t make me want to cry. I felt good, I felt social, I felt like finding out what an art gallery where you can also get your legs waxed would be like. I kissed my family goodbye and drove towards the Krispy Kreme city.

I’ve explained what happens when I feel confident about my parenting. It appears that equation has now expanded to include evenings out.

I arrived punctually at 5:00, like the fashionable people do, and watched the bartender set up, and the tables of books get arranged. It appeared I was the only writer there that evening who wasn’t recovering from a really passionate but dead-end relationship with a) Self-mutilation, b) heroin, c) a bassist from a Swedish death-metal band or d) some combination of the above, with a pet ferret. I’m usually middle-of-the-road’s odd friend; here, I was what a GPS system would use to locate suburbia. But at least I looked okay.

Twenty minutes after I arrived, the first other participants drifted in, getting a drink from the bar. Five minutes after the first guest had arrived, she grabbed her drink and spun quickly around, not realizing I was standing directly behind her waiting for my drink. Her glass of red wine spilled down the entire right-hand side of my body, down the black and white thin-striped sweater, down the light-yellow corduroy pants, puddling on the caramel shoes. What followed was two minutes of gasping and apologizing and offering to clean clothes on her part, smiling thinly and saying weakly, “No, accidents happen, don’t give it another thought” on mine. Mollified, she went off, possibly to compare piercings with another guest, and I snuck into one of the waxing rooms to check the damage in a mirror. I didn’t look too bad, if your standard of bad was defined by an abattoir employee. I blotted what I could off the sweater and pants and rearranged the scarf to cover what I could.

I spent the next half-hour or so smiling, chatting subtly encouraging people to check out my book, which was on a table nestled next to “The Dysfunctional Family Workbook.” I kept trying to separate them. After a while, I decided I had done enough selling and was allowed to roam freely for a few minutes, to see what the other writers were like and to see if walking would create enough airflow to dry my wine-splattered hair. I chatted with another writer who was getting himself a glass of water from a container. A minute later, my brain said “Your right leg and foot are wet.” I snapped inwardly, “Yes, I know, red wine. I was there.”

“No,” my brain said tiredly, “new wetness.”

I looked down. The water-tap hadn’t closed fully and was now spraying down my leg. What was astonishing about this was how the water wasn’t going downwards in the usual trajectory for things affected by gravity. Rather, it was banking sharply to the right, avoiding the nearest person and saturating me. A more credulous person would say the water was looking for me. On the plus side, it was diluting the red-wine stain on the pants. Fifteen minutes later, standing in a completely different section of the room, someone tripped and spilled their soda on my right sleeve and calf. Twenty minutes later, an ice-cube hit me in the back of my right knee. This was impressive, considering my back was to the wall at the time.

Now, I became chatty with the other guests. Sure you, hipster guest, might have a tattoo of your great-uncle Guiseppe on your neck and a thriving bondage-accessory business, but I was being stalked by liquid. Your oddness was, to some degree, a choice. My right foot squelched every time I stepped down and half my bra smelled like Chianti, but I was born this way. Other guests came to admire the all the water-patterns on the right side of me; I had become an art installation.

At nine, the event ended. I was free to leave. Someone offered me a soda for the road, which dripped cooler-water on to my right shoe. I waved a goodbye to the guests some of whom, charmed by my dousing abilities, had suggested I go with them to places hipper and weirder. But, any event after this one could start involving my drawing fluids of the bodily kind towards me. We conceptual artists know when it’s time to pack up our act. I squished back to my car and made my way towards home, but not before grabbing two donuts at Krispy Kreme.

“Do you want anything to drink with those donuts?”

“Thanks, but no.”


Anonymous Christine said...

So funny. I thought I was the only one who had experiences like that. For me a feeling of confidence is often followed by a pie to the face. Not literally...yet, I'm still relatively young.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Char said...

oh man. it always amazing to me that once these weird things start that they cyclone into pack mentality and clump together like lint in the dryer filter. like the body becomes some sort of magnet for whatever is coming down the pike. in my case it's always crumbs on the bosum and no matter how much i try to discretely brush them aside after taking whatever on a crostini, there is always a few more. just like one poppy seed will find a weird place in the gums.

hope you enjoyed the krispy kremes - even if they didn't get out the stains, the sugar rush will make you giddy not to care for a bit.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh Quinn,how awful...thank goodness you didn't get pulled over !

Peace ~ Rene

2:49 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Wow, that was a funny read. Not what happened to you, but how you expressed it. :)

I am sure your book was a wild success!

I often meet with the results you had that night, but it's always my fault. I even once spilled my coke on the guy next to me on an airplane. Mortifying, but he was nice.

Loved the ending. Donuts, especially from Krispy Kreme, can make anything better. hehe

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Judy S said...

A great read as usual...your writing is so inspiring!

Quinn, did you ever stop to think that these quirky events of life are directed at you simply because you can so eloquently write about them,thereby letting the rest of us know that silly, interesting and sometimes challenging everyday events happen to everyone?

The posts of your experiences are huge gifts to all of us....thanks sooo much for them!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the belly laugh!

6:23 PM  
Anonymous --deb said...

Oh my...

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to follow you with a camera....

9:11 PM  
Blogger OHN said...


Remind me not to stand next to you any time soon :)

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of bodily fluids, I just laughed until tears flowed down and soaked the collar of my shirt. Thanks, I needed that!

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life was getting dull and today I read some of your old blogs and the one about you and your cordless phone. I, too, have found mine in some weird places (once in the freezer)?????

6:57 PM  
Anonymous elizabeth said...

Just wanted to say - I ordered two copies of your book for xmas presents for my sister and SIL. I'm reading my sister's copy because I wanted one for myself but it's xmas and you have to buy for others so this is my cheating way of accomplishing both.

You have uncanny timing. After discovering and disposing of one rodent yesterday morning, chasing another escaped rodent around the back yard with a shovel after a failed drowning attempt (they really do bound! just like in Ratatouille!), and setting 14 traps in the basement, I was sitting in the orthodontist office this morning and opened your book to the next chapter - A Nice Big Fat One.

It's so good to know that I'm not alone. (and btw - the above acts were witnessed by me, but performed by my husband).

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you. I would have run crying to my car after the FIRST spill incident.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous MidLifeMama said...

I am sitting in my office crying because this was so freaking funny. I have to go to a holiday party tonight. I shall wear black, just in case.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not to laugh at the misfortunes of others but this was way too funny not to...I hope that you got to drink a glass of wine too and that the spilled the wine got out of your carefully chosen outfit...

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your life in such a wonderful manner. I laughed until I cried.

10:21 AM  

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