JELLYFISH KISSES 


I've been thinking a lot lately about standing still, about dirt-rooted feet and blossoming hair resplendent with little bits of sweet fruit. Lounging lazily in thoughts of never moving again, it seems I've gone a little Eastern; some trendy reverse-pomo Kerouacian On the Couch, culling impulses and impulse buys from the universe of nerves within me, and slamming the windows on the window-shopping without.

You can keep the overnight bag with the Siam and Singapore stickers on it. If I wanted the sky, somebody would bring me the sky. I'll just sit here and pluck cherries from my scalp, thank you.

But, then, that's what I get for thinking: a damn pit in my throat.

Anxious to redirect my energies to something more productive, I crash the dinner intentions of a couple of friends and a 5-year-old, certain that the journey alone is the destination, because I think I read that somewhere.

"Do you think I can come along? I, uh, I really just need one more hit. ONE MORE HIT!" I sing the blues.

Silence.

"OK, heh. I'll see you there!"

So, it's off to Shari Sushi with Skotty, Dea and Dea's daughter, Day. My tongue is already twisted … with a cherry stem! I don't need to tell you how glamorous and sexy I feel right now, because it must be apparent already. But I feel very glamorous and sexy, you should know. I really do. Especially after a shot of sake with Skotty at Shari. Natch. Stop it!

The bounce bounce bounce of the soundfeed rattles my chopsticks and gets me thinking about gay bars, while the wafts of sea smells turn the whole thing a little lesbian sweet-and-sour. But, for the moment, I'm caught up enough to order a couple of morsels of raw food to keep my teeth from clenching to the beat.

"Do you want to try some jellyfish salad?" taunts Dea.

I just chew along and pretend not to have heard so absurd a query, mostly because eating makes me nonresponsive. Day doesn't refuse, though, and decides to wander into the dangerous tentacled waters of gelatinous treachery with a child's fearless glee. Within moments one of the tentacles has done its dirty work, lodging itself halfway between her tastebuds and trachea, reminding me why I only eat liquids.

"Is she OK?" a waiter decides to quiz me (of all people) while Day's throat closes around the gingered jellyfish sting.

Instantly I'm called into Lifetime Movie Network action. Well, not really. Actually, I go all nervous-geisha and look away, mouthing into my napkin, "I'm sure she's fine," while a line of mucous and tentacle is pulled from her throat. Why does she get all the attention, I wonder, trying to muster a scene of comparable trauma to satisfy my insatiable selfishness. Why the hell do I bleach my hair if nobody's looking at me? I could fall off my barstool and break a hip, you know. Just tempt me.

Fortunately, that won't be necessary. The whole thing falls under the sushi bar like most of my food, and we're ready to exit into the unknown. The biggest conundrum we can conjure involves whether we should get two bottles of French red or a whole case, and I realize that life isn't that bad at all. But if we get the case, we're going to need some transportation assistance. These bound feet weren't made for walking.

Fortunately, there's a hot pedicab driver circling us like a jellyfish, and we make haste to invite his sting.

"I'll stay here," philanthropes a smiling Skotty, sending us into the wine depot while he chats up the biker with a carriage backside.

Soon, we're all squoze into the romantic seat for two, creating untold hernias for the boy whose rear is in our collective face.

"Where are you from?" Dea quizzes, noticing a hint of an accent.

"Greece," he obliges, nervously. In between internalized gay sex jokes obligatory to the land of flaming cheese, I'm starting to realize that this is all going horribly continental: Japanese food + French wine + Greek bike-boy = heartburned hangover. Math hurts.

"Say something Greek!" we unfairly implore.

"Uh."

"Come on!" we grow impatient with our rent boy and his perfect calves. "Just say 'George Michael'!" I unnecessarily add.

"You guys, quit it!" scolds Day, wise beyond her tender years.

Eventually, he does say something mildly Hellenic, but none of us really hear it. Not over his plans to be a model and make something of himself. His name is something like Manolo, so that might help. And he waxes his eyebrows. But it's all Greek to me, ha ha. Heh.

Furthering our glamorous decline, we free Manolo at our destination, the EO Inn, where Skotty, Dea and Day have a room that I'm going to invite myself up to. Why? Because there's a hot tub, and there's wine. That's why.

In the hot tub, we exchange witticisms in a continental red-wine haze and stare out at the gorgeous sky wanly, until we're interrupted by a Russian woman, in town for job interviews. She'll have nothing to do with us, short of a couple of muted potato niceties, and frankly, I want nothing to do with her either. I've seen enough of the world tonight.

So, we're back in the room and Day's got that almost-ready-for-bed rambunctiousness down pat, planting stickers upon me as a means of control and reprimand.

"You're frozen!" she says, like I didn't already know that, and I fall back dramatically against the wall.

"Go on, Madonna," kabbalahs Dea.

I try any number of magic words to pull me out of my icy motionlessness, but most fail.

"Legwarmers!"

Nothing.

"Hagfish!"

Nothing again.

"JELLYFISH!" finally gets it, and Day's soon off to sleep. Me too. I've seen enough of the world for one night. And I'm craving cherries.

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