Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Life in Pink - Part 7

I got my first official job that summer after sophomore year, as a junior stylist at one of the chiquest hair salons in town. Junior stylist meant that I shampooed clients’ hair before the real stylists cut it, and then swept up afterward, and sharpened their scissors, and disinfected their combs, and liaised with their coke dealers for them when they were busy, and fetched them food. The only male of the four stylists, Jean-Claude, who’d never been anywhere near Quebec, let alone France, was gay, and detested me on sight. One of those impeccably masculine types, with short hair, a mustache, and Carhartt work boots, he apparently thought “flamers” such as I made it less likely for the society at large to accept gays. I neither bothered pointing out that I was as straight as a one-dollar bill, nor asked his feelings about the annual Gay Pride parade down in the City.

Another stylist, Zhaneen, was around 40, botoxed to within an inch of her life, and unashamedly predatory. My second day on the job, she said, “You’re having a drink with me after work tonight,” in a tone that invited no negotiation. She drove us back to her condo in her little Mazda sports car, virtually threw me inside, and ravenously deflowered me. The sex part was hella fun. She was a wonderful teacher and I, judging from the noises she made, exactly the sort of gifted, attentive student every teacher loves to teach.

She didn’t teach me just about sex, but taught me a lot about makeup as well. I’d sort of been winging it the whole time I’d been wearing it, since I started middle school. She refined my approach. After lovemaking, she’d sit me down at her makeup table and experiment with different looks for me. Seeing myself in some of them, I think I knew how Narcissus must have felt. I was stunning! These sessions would almost invariably end with both of us being so turned on by how pretty she’d made me that we wound up making even more torrid love than when just home from the salon. She called me a dream come true — wonderfully feminine-looking, but generously endowed and inexhaustible. She made me promise I wouldn’t let any of the salon’s rich lady clients lure me away, but it was actually she who pulled the plug on our relationship, after the girlfriend who’d left her earlier in the year decided she’d made a terrible mistake.

Yes, another depression. But this time, having earned my own money for the first time, I was able to pull myself out of the pit with retail self-therapy. Ordering judiciously on line, I put together what I was sure was the cutest wardrobe any student at my high school would ever have been seen in.

I actually felt quite popular my senior year. No fewer than three boys, two of them much lusted-after jocks, secretly invited me to the prom — and then swore me to secrecy about their having done so when I declined. I thought it only fair that I take Pilar, who I’d found out over the course of my friendship wasn’t nearly as contemptuous of tradition as she pretended, self-protectingly. She wore a tuxedo and I a gown. An hour into the evening, we were named its king and queen. When Mrs. Halfin, our principal, read the announcement, she said, “Now the only question is which of you is which,” and everyone was comfortable enough to laugh, as I prefer to believe Mrs. Halfin had intended, rather than threaten a lawsuit. It was the happiest moment of my life to that point.

Pilar and I made love that night, and I think we were both surprised, she by how much I had to work with, and how skilled I was with it, and I by her gentleness. It felt like a wonderful valediction of our long friendship, and I wasn’t the only one crying when we parted.

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