Malibu, she says to her friends. Last summer’s garden party. Dreadful. Genevieve and Richard. Fabulous. She either has money or knows its vocabulary. She’s had almost two bottles of Sancerre to herself.
She is sitting in the lounge of the Bowery Hotel on the Lower East Side. People with a certain degree of celebrity (directors, comedians) skulk on velvet couches, drink champagne, thoughtfully nod at their producers and consult stoic friends wearing atomic red lipstick. The waitresses are leggy and perplexed. Overlapping Persian carpets cover the floor, Victorian lamps barely illuminate cocktail menus. It is a terrifically civilized place.
On another set of couches is a heavily botoxed man sporting a soul patch and namaste necklace. Next to him is his wife and her arms, superfluously fit, unless she professionally hauls crabs on an Alaskan fishing boat.
The two-bottle-deep drunk woman cackles with a pair of over-accessorized and well-waxed girlfriends. Her damaged blonde hair is pulled into a low ponytail with a black scrunchie and the breadth of her hips suggests A Life-Long Battle With Weight Loss. She is about fifty, is not beautiful, and never has been. As she complains to her friends about the contractor she hired to build her wine cellar, a lout, she calls him, two models walk into the room.
They wear puffy winter parkas and no makeup. They are laughing, facing each other, gripping each other’s forearms, conspiring in accented English, a Norwegian maybe, and a German. Something hilarious has happened. They are similar looking, Disney princesses, wide eyes, small chins, flowing blonde locks. It’s a demanding beauty, the kind that snaps its fingers in front of your nose in the middle of a daydream. They have paused in the dead center of the room to laugh and sigh. The men in the room linger, lose trains of thought. The women size them up.
The drunk woman watches them with a dark furrow of resentment.
"Excuse me," she shrieks, the way a lawyer might to a high school tour group blocking doorway to the Supreme Court. "Could you please keep your voices down?" She yells more loudly than they were talking.
They look down at her, pretty European mouths wide open.
"Do you think that we all," she waves a beefy arm around, implicating everyone in the bar and beyond, all residents of the Tri-State Area, "want to hear about who you are [air quotes] ‘fucking?’"
Her girlfriends lean back, as amused as bullies holding the dodgeball at recess.
"I’m sorry, it’s a bar? We’re just standing here," says the German, factually.
The Norwegian leads with a bang and calls the drunk woman a “fucking cunt,” two-steps, and clenches her fists.
The drunk woman leans forward, as aggressively as one can lean forward while seated, mouth downturned in condescension.
"This is my hotel, and I spend a lot of money here, are you even staying here? I don’t need to sit here listening to two nineteen year old girls, swearing and talking about screwing when I stay here for weeks at a time and spend lots and lots of money."
The German, a stickler for the facts, says, “I’m twenty-three,” and the drunk woman hoots wildly and shakes her head as if to say yes! This proves her point, precisely!
And so on and so forth, I’ll have you kicked out, fucking bitch, what exactly is your problem? Until the models stumble off outside, furious and bewildered.
The drunk woman’s friends shake their heads good-naturedly, cover their mouths, huddling closer together, some ancient part of their brainstems tickled by the thrill of bonding against this pair of enemies. The drunk woman throws her fat head back in a cackle and flicks her eyes across the room, looking for more approval, allies, attention. The botoxed fisherwoman, looking to be a part of the action from the beginning, catches her eye and says reverently, “You are awesome.” They all strike up a conversation, and soon enough rearrange themselves so they are all sitting together, one nasty coterie. They rehash and gesticulate, arranging the narrative in their favor.
They all look as ugly and old as witches gathered around a cauldron.