Saturday, December 06, 2008

When I'm Up You're Coming Down

for graeme
I know, it's not January, but aren't you glad to see me? BTW, that last post was my 100th. Hurray for me. Thanks for wasting time with me!

When she walked into the train car, on the tube in London, on that unseasonably warm day in May, all heads turned. She was stunningly beautiful, after all, with her peaches and cream skin and dark golden blond curls cascading down her back, bobbing like a willow tree in the wind, but she was also dressed in the height of fashion for the time, in 1990: Katherine Hamnet (or were they Pam Hogg) copper patent leather moc-croc short shorts, and matching jacket. Jaws dropped. I didn't know where to look first. And she just stood there on the train, a typical cool English beauty, like it was no big deal that she was a fashion magazine come to life.
Londoners wield special fashion powers. It is especially strong, and you always know when you are in their presence, and the designers notice too: The Brits invent style and trends, the French make it beautiful, and New York sells it. It was a special thrill to see them in the flesh, living and breathing as they trotted around town on my first visit there, and I hunted for them, like rare birds, and found them lurking in stairwells smoking cigarettes, gliding in pairs down King's Road, or flitting around nightclubs.
For me, it's like a great painting being suddenly plopped down onto the street; some people have the gift of presenting a complete and perfect statement, idea, or feeling with what they choose to wear. I stop in my tracks and stare, eyes bugging shamelessly, every time.
I guess that's the appeal of movie stars and movies. Breakfast at Tiffany's and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds never bore me, because the costumes are so beautiful.
Monroe, Crawford, and Audrey all knew how to dress, and the power of the right choice. Chloey Sevigny does it for me. (Cute blog.)
Also on this trip, I got to be face to face with one of London's biggest fashion icons, Boy George. Yes, I'm finally telling that story.
I was with my boss, Consita, at Limelight one night, and we somehow found ourselves in the VIP lounge by accident, because now we were on the other side of the mob of people, we had just witnessed moments before, who wanted in.
(Someone left the downstairs backdoor open. That place is a maze of rooms.)
And who is standing six feet away from me but George himself.
I was a little haunted by George during my time in London, for I so, dare I hope, wanted to meet him, or at least see him. I imagined seeing him just rounding corners, going up escalators, or getting into cars; always just out of my reach. I turned into my childhood friend Mary. She was my lonely, slightly slow neighbor, and a few years older than me, who constantly interrupted our playtime by running off to 'talk' to a 'friend' she just 'saw'. Thinking about her makes me giggle and breaks my heart at the same time. Is that possible?
I think it was the combination of her full and curvy womanly body, married with the mind of a girl, that made her junior high school peers shrink away from her.

George was a few steps away from me, and I wanted to run, but Consita had a better idea. She pulled me up to him and said Hi George, I'm Consita and this is Brian and we're from Chicago and we wanted to say hi! Perfect, right?
Hi! I'd love to talk to you two, so can you hang out for a minute while I finish talking to those two? He said, as he turned and pointed.
Love to talk tooo....??? I thought.
He was bookended by two of the most gorgeous men you ever saw. I'd finish that conversation, too.
By the time this happened, I was pretty drunk, for it was one of those I'm gonna get drunk tonight! nights, which was an unusual statement for me to make, because getting drunk every night was a given for me back then. I think it helped calm me down though, and helped me to act casual and non chalant, for I was tripping on some heavy Boy George acid.
When he came back over, he introduced us to all the people he was with, who could have been the Beatles and the Queen for all I knew, and bought us drinks from the giant stack of drink tickets in his hand. When I saw that stack, I immediately thought of Marilyn, and his Chicago Limelight performance: the rumour was the owner made him sing there, and New York, to pay off his huge London Limelight bar tab.
Yes, Mare, I could pay off your bar tab, but what lesson would you learn from that? I imagined George saying.
George's hair was cropped and magenta, and we were wearing similar outfits: black palazzo pants with a Gaultier t-shirt and blazer. My Gaultier blazer was borrowed from my friend Rex, It was a thousand dollars, so don't wreck it, and my t-shirt was Junior Gaultier, and I felt like a junior George.
We talked about his interview I had just read in i-D magazine, but he could talk really fast, and with that accent of his, well, it was hard for me to follow him, so I took dives into his amazing blue eyes. No wonder he's famous, look at those eyes, I thought to myself or said out loud, I don't know. Pictures don't capture them. Colour by Numbers comes close.
After a while, George slips away, with a promise to return, and Consita and I talk:
"Bea is going to be so jealous! George is so nice! I think he likes you! Can you belive it? Partying with Boy George!" Consita says.
I was still at a loss for words, but I knew I needed another drink, and left the way we entered, back downstairs. The door was shut, so I kept it propped open a bit while I got my drink.
Of course it was locked when I got back, and I spent twenty minutes trying to get Consita's attention from the other balcony, waving like a lunatic.
See. Me. Now. George. Is. In. There. See. Me. Now!
She finally saw me and snuck me back in, and we talked with George some more.
Do I tell him I can remember the first time I saw a picture of him? Do I tell him about the hours I spent dancing around my bedrooms in small town Arkansas and small town Wisconsin, pretending I was him? Do I confess to him all the time I spent looking at pictures of him, memorizing every fashion detail? I decide not to, for whenever I had the impulse to relate my experiences to him, I read in those eyes of his a look of knowing, like he could read my thoughts, and his desire to simply enjoy this moment we were having together.
I should have stopped drinking, but didn't, and by the end of the night I was quite wobbly, and George drifted away from me and down to one end of a blurry hallway, discussing me with a friend, while Consita and I tried to hold each other up, on the other end.
We stumbled home, back the the flat we rented by Harrods, and woke Bea with our news.
For days afterward, I floated around London with the power of I spent the night with George, and he liked me! keeping me two feet off the ground.

God's speed, George.

Lush De-Luxe


American Girl said...

Happy Hundred and One!

I'm so glad this story didn't end with George going to prison for chaining you up in his house.

Aaron said...

I'm sort of disappointed that George didn't chain you up in his house...:-)

Just kidding, of course--but what a story THAT would be!