tales of a girl in the city

juin 12, 2005


Emily and I spent yesterday on Coney Island, in the company of Eak the Geek, a man who lets tourists from Florida crunch a bed of nails into his tattooed belly for a living, and about four hundred fat women with "Caliente" written across their bathing suit's ass.

Well, truthfully, only I met Eak. Though Em and I both forked up the five dollars to get into the Coney Island Sideshow, about thirty seconds before entering we got wind that someone known as The Human Blockhead was going to pound an icepick into his nasal cavity. I thought it might be a better idea if Em didn't actually come along. I was afraid she'd barf.

About five minutes later, I was afraid I'd barf as Diamond Donny V addressed the audience with the handle-end of a spoon shoved up his left nostril. But when my stomach calmed down, and I got used to the visual, all I could think of was my cousin Krissie, who'd once had to be taken to the hospital after putting raisins in her vagina. I wondered if she and Diamond Donny would hit it off.

Then I wondered if kissing him would taste like spoon.

Diamond D. and his amazing sinuses aside, however, I was most attracted to the girl whose act involved electrocuting herself and putting a snakehead in her mouth. She was absolutely bald and had a bull-ring through her nose, but neither of these hid any part of her beauty. I could tell, also, that she had a terrific sense of humor. She made belly dancing seem a little wry, somehow, and I figured that was harder to pull off than the snakehead bit any day.

I thought a lot about her. About how boys must feel when they find out what she does. Snake charmer, she'd say to the guy at the party. How lame he'd feel, then, to say, "Math Teacher," or "Contract Attorney," or anything, really, short of "Swashbuckler" or "Duke." But though she could belly dance and had beautiful eyes, I bet she'd spent a lot of nights trying to convince boys not to be afraid of her. Or the snake, for that matter. And then I considered that boys who were very into the snake, were probably not as at ease with ideas like "monogomy" and "meeting mom." So I was pretty sure she got lonely--obviously she got lonely. You don't end up bellydancing for something called a "freak show" if you've never had a moment of feeling you don't belong.

Later on, spread out on the beach with Emily, she looked around and told me that sometimes she feels like she sees girls there on weekends who must be just like herself. Girls who are great and funny, but who just haven't managed to find in Manhattan a big group of friends to whisk them away. Girls who like the sea, and the sunshine. Who can do for themselves.

I thought of the snake charmer, and agreed.