Monday, July 24, 2006

What's a Girl to Do?

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In June, 1985, Scott was still living on Diversey, in that mini Flatiron-like apartment building, where Diversey meets Lincoln, but he needed to move out. I was walking by there the other day, and I really wanted to go in there and look around, cause I hadn't been there since he lived there. He needed out because he couldn't afford to live there in the first place. He had moved in there with a roommate, but he took Scott's first month rent and security deposit, and skipped town. And his meager wages weren't cutting it. He told this to me over dinner one summer night at his place, with his boyfriend, Philip. Philip worked at Vidal Sassoon, and I was quite jealous of him. (It seems like I was jealous of everyone, doesn't it? Well, I was.) Philip, despite his glamorous aura and excessive drug use, was very down to earth and easy to talk to. I found him and Scott an odd couple. I guess because Philip was all 'Guitars and Cadillacs', and Scott wasn't.
Philip asked me why I worked at such a ahem, slow salon (his code word for lousy) when Jimmio's was right across the street. I confessed to him I did have an interview with the manager once, but I was so intimidated by the scene in the salon when I went in and asked for a job, I never showed up for it.
I never showed up for the interview because these people were living a life a had only dreamt about; this was the fast-paced salon in Desperately Seeking Susan!
(I saw this video a million times in beauty school, and although the hair salon scene is only shown for two split seconds, that was all I needed...)
At Jimmio's, their clothes were real, their attitude was real, their homes, their lives were real. When I walked in there, I realized everything about me was pretend. I didn't have this life yet, this life I had dreamt about, a life Madonna and Rosana Arquette had so glamorously portrayed on the silver screen: a fun life in the big city!
(Desperately Seeking Susan really wasn't the inspiration for my career. I was inspired to become a stylist when I discovered how hair and make-up could transform people into abstract art, as they looked in my mother's avant-guarde style magazines from the early 80's. People get paid to do this?! Sign me up! She owned a salon then, when I was in junior high.)
To me, that was too easy: I couldn't just walk in the door and have a life! I felt had to start small, so I chose the lesser salon across the street. I would work my way up.
"Maybe it's for the better. A lot of scary things go on there behind the scenes, if you know what I mean..." Philip said. He had recently left Jimmio's to work at Sassoon.
"I wasn't going to mention it, but Doug told me about that. He didn't want me to work there." I said.
I also knew, despite how perfect the salon looked to me, it's nefarious reputation kept me at bay. I told no one this, but my past history with mind-altering substances taught me I had only needed to know they were around me, and I was off to the races. And in the races I ran, honey, everyone came in last place.
So Scott asked me if Jody and I wanted to get a place together.
"Yes!" I said. I liked living with Steve and Jody and Karen, but Tim was coming back to Chicago for school when summer ended, and he wanted his room back, and Karen was about to move in with her boyfriend. I slept on the couch, so a bed sounded good to me.
"I already found a place, just up Racine by Belmont. $ 275 a month! Want to see it tomorrow?" Scott said.
"Yes!" I said again.
The next day we show up and the owner buzzes us in. He's big and smelly, but very sweet, in a 'slow' kind of way. He walks us through the two bedroom apartment. It looked like very little had changed since the building was built in 1910. Really. It did have electricity, though. Not a lot, but some. It was dirty in there, too. Seventy years dirty.
"Can we paint?" I ask.
"Paint? Ya mean decorate? I already decorated!" He said. Scott and I give each other not in this gay's opinion looks.
Against my better judgment, I ask if we could sign the lease now. It was a hundred bucks each a month! I had no choice. I could barely afford that.
We cross the hall, trying to avoid his pungent wake, to Dean's (we called him 'Dean', cause the dumpy bar on the corner used to be called Dean's Place) apartment, to finalize the paperwork.
Upon entering, it took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Dean runs in and sits down at what I guess to be a table, facing us.
"Have a seat. There's two chairs there." He said to Scott and me.
I pulled the chair up to the table, and sit on little of it as I can, because for what I at first took as a poorly lit room, I realized now, was really a filthy room. It was like a film noir movie, but instead of shadows creating the mysterious mood, it was dirt. Film saleté, if you will. And do I mean dirt. The few patches of clean, or less dirt, were from the placing and removing of plates and forks from the table. Wear marks!
How can anyone, why would anyone, how is this possib..., oh my God... I think to myself, as I start to feel dizzy.
A TV was on in the other room, and I think I saw an occasional flicker of someone's eyes on me, but I can't be certain. I start to imagine a deformed creature of a child, dragging it's self from room to room, when I force myself to stop my hyper imagination.
Scott and I look at each other, and sign the lease. This mess will be across the hall from us, and yet we sign the lease. His job situation was worse than mine, so his hands were tied tighter. I wish Jody had been with us that day. She never would've let us move in if she had seen Dean's apartment.
Later, after we left, we vow to scrub our new place from top to bottom, hide Dean and his apartment from Jody for as long as we could, and to furnish it ultra-cool.
"It's only for a year" he said. "We will be making more money then, and can get a better place." He said sadly, trying to cheer us up.
Scott has such amazing taste and furniture, so I knew if anyone could transform the dump we were about to move into, he could...

p.s. Click the eponym in the link in the title; you won't be sorry!
p.p.s. And this one.
p.p.p.s Some names have been changed to protect the innocent. (Or not so innocent)


trista said...

I've just started looking for a new place, and I know exactly what you're talking about. Some people live in SQUALOR! *shudder*

David said...

you beeyotch! You found a Cristina video and you didn't send it to me! I discovered her!

BC said...

I wanted to surprise you! Besides, after viewing this video I remembered why I had that long love-affair with gin slings in the mid 80's.