143: shtetl fabulous

I slept in Saturday, getting up at, like, 10 am, for the first time in a month. I had finished my class at CAN tv the

week before, and I hardly knew what to do with a free Saturday all to myself. All I had to look forward to was some

errand-doing around the neighborhood, though Elinor was in town so maybe I could stop by Kevin’s later and hang out with

them. The key to errands is having a list, so on my list I wrote the following:

post holiday cards (Drummond & Clark — ext pstg cards?)

b’day pres. Jalissa (urbn)

dry cleaning (tickets)

The post office was closed when I got there, no doubt due to budget restrictions. I could have walked down a few blocks

to the Urban Outfitters but it was cold so I hopped on an approaching bus.

CTA has invested in these shiny new buses that are very well-lit and clean — the display is bright and never fails to

identify the bus, and the wheelchair lift operates so smoothly. The seats in the back are elevated a few feet above the

front, so that the first set of seats behind the back door sit right on top of the motor. When the bus comes to a

standstill and idles it is, ahem, rather pleasant to be found sitting there.

And let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

After errands, I took another bus over to Kevin’s, where we ate walnuts and channel-surfed. Kevin seemed to really like

his Christmas present (of course he did, he approved it and everything), then we, along with Elinor and Kathy (who

brought White Castle!) for some intense channel surfing. It was a pretty slow night, but given that the temperature was

sinking into the single digits, this was fine by me. I was in a particularly silly mood, due in large part to my hair

being up in rather appealing pigtails. It looked quite fetching. Kathy and I made tentative plans to see “Amelie” the

next day, and then drove me to the red line so I could curl up with my trashy novel (“Lace”, an old favorite by Shirley

Conran).

Sunday, early afternoon, found me at the Hollywood Mirror, my favorite overpriced vintage boutique, looking for a

lampshade for my lamp. This particular lamp consists of a plaster base in the shape of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s head, glamorous

blond hairdo and everything. I’ve been looking for a shade ever since I got her (yes, I refer to the lamp as “she”, not

“it”) as a birthday present. I was hoping the Hollywood Mirror would have something appropriate — leopard print, or

maybe something fringed — but alas, no. There were some lovely pieces of furniture in the basement, but I’m not ready

to pay $875 for an oak desk that weighs 500 pounds.

Kathy and I had lunch at Chicken Hut, then sped off towards a matinee of “Amelie” at Oak Park’s finest discount theater.

The joint was full of well-manicured middle-aged White folks, drinking bottled water with their jumbo popcorn. We got

seats in the last row of the tiny theater, so we didn’t have to look up the nostrils of the people in the movie. Which

would have been alright, as many of the actors were very good-looking or, at the very least, well-groomed with good

taste in accessories.

I adored “Amelie”. It is already number 18 in the top 250 movies on the Internet Movie Database

(imdb.com/top_250_films). But then, the users voted “Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” number 1 over “The

Godfather”, so what the fuck do they know? Anyway, “Amelie” was adorable and charming and lovely, a great movie to see

at the end of what has truly been a shitty (some of you would probably use the word “inauspicious”) year. It didn’t have

me falling out of my chair with laughter but it provided me with some much needed cheer and romance. I came out of the

movie quiet and kind of sleepy — eating popcorn in a warm, dimly-lit room will do that to a person. Kathy was kind

enough to drive me home, where I curled up with my book and dropped off to sleep.

Jacinda and I shopped Monday afternoon, picking up party favors at Uncle Fun for her sister’s big New Year’s

Eve/birthday party that evening. They were playing lame music in the store and the aisles were crowded with aging

hipsters trying on multi-colored wigs. Anyone even remotely worried about the death of irony in the wake of September 11

need not worry — it lives and breathes in Chicago’s indie rock scene, I assure you. Then, Jacinda and I drove over to

the Century mall on Diversey, scoring street parking on the very cold, very shady side of the street. We found warmth

and solace at Victoria’s Secret, where the semi-annual sale was in full swing. I needed new “foundation garments”, as I

broke the underwire in two bras this past year. Now before you get all excited at the idea of my tits getting bigger,

rest assured that this was not the case. I think I’ve just got a fatter back, boo hoo hoo.

My taste in lingerie tends towards the mundane, so much so that you couldn’t even call what I wear “lingerie”. It’s just

underwear. I hope to one day go about town in woolen bloomers and those suits that have a trap door in the seat. The

last time I bought a bra with any sort of ornamentation was back in high school when I nothing to do but flaunt the

Brearley dress code with my flashy bra straps. Jacinda found some adorable meshy stuff, nude in color and decorated with

butterflies because that’s her thing — butterflies, I mean, she’s into butterflies. We had to wait on line for a super

long time, listening to girls with newly highlighted hair prattle on about the *impossibility* of finding a decent place

for New Year’s Day brunch.

After paying (my bras were 40% off!), Jacinda and I headed out for lunch at the Golden Nugget and a heart-to-heart chat,

which doesn’t happen very often as we spend most of our time at home sitting in the piles of clothing that have taken

over our living room and drooling over a new-to-us rerun of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. When we got home (after 20

minutes of looking for a parking space after a small Asian girl in a large SUV took our space in Melrose, and Jacinda

quibbling with her mum and sister about last-minute birthday dinner plans), we dressed, painted our faces, attended to

the dog, and went back out into the cold cold night.

I was one of the first people to arrive at Chris’ basement flat, so I tried to make myself useful. But as Chris had more

than enough kitchen help, I helped myself to a Coke and a back issue of “Talk” magazine. As more guests arrived, I

assembled ingredients for brownies, kissed friends hello, and kept an eye on the rum cake sitting in the kitchen. There

weren’t a lot of us, but almost everyone brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new year. There was a bottle for

every person at the party, which would probably why a lot of us got really really drunk. I baked brownies, which were

appealingly shiny and fudge-like when they emerged from the oven at midnight. Midnight came with the usual smooching,

hugging, and wishing of good will towards everyone in the room. And, because 2001 sucked in so many different ways for

so many different people, a hearty cry of “Let’s drown this bitch!” was met with some hearty cheers.

Though we were in fine spirits, the evening could not progress without some party drama. The kind of drama that, had we

all been in junior high, would have ended with the party host, in tears, marching into the rec room to scream “I! HATE!

YOU! GUYS! I KNEW YOU WERE JUST USING ME FOR MY FOOSBALL TABLE! EVERYBODY LEAVE NOW!” Our parents would have come round

to collect us, or we would have walked ourselves home. But that wasn’t the case, especially that last bit, as some of

Chris’ neighbors fired their guns at midnight and who wants to walk home when you run the risk of getting a cap popped

in your ass?

Stuff happened, and I didn’t notice a damned thing as I was engrossed in one of the following activities:

1. drinking — champagne, champagne punch, martinis

2. smoking — Nat Sherman Hint of Mints

3. eating — catfish, rice and beans, Bobby Newton’s concoction of

asparagus, portobello mushrooms, and pasta shells in Boursin sauce

4. admiring the beaded pants worn by Will’s girlfriend Robin — paired

with a cream cableknit sweater

5. playing 80s music on the stereo — selections from Janet Jackson (the

“Control” years), etc.

6. talking about Elinor’s Norwegian-Minnesotan-Lutheran background —

this came back later during the “Strongest Man in the World” competition

on ESPN the next way (Elinor could not resist chanting

“Norge! Norge!” when the defending champion would compete and, frankly,

neither could I)

7. various stripes of Protestantism (which reached its peak with a

spirited performance of “A mighty fortress is our hair”)

The evenings highlights and low points were recounted, with utmost discretion of course, the next day at Kathy’s New

Year’s Day brunch. We had Krispy Kreme doughnuts, bagels, cream cheese, lox, fruit salad, mimosas, brie, sausage,

collards, and hoppin’ john. For the most part, we convalesced in Kathy’s toasty apartment, watching the “Behind The

Music” marathon on VH1 and making fun of Joan Rivers, who was holding forth on fashion on E (the network, not the drug).

Kathy and I wore shiny ornaments in our hair; this is, I feel, a good way to begin the year.

Cheers,

Jasmine

“Morning, noon, and night, it’s dwink and dancing / Some quick womancing / And then a shower.”

*playlist*

Shelby Lynne – Killin’ Kind; Stone Roses – Love Spreads; Ultramagnetic MC’s – Kool Keith Housing Things

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~ by Jasmine on January 2, 2002.

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