Public Displays Of Fashion
I turned around and I was wearing sunglasses. I guess I could have been scary or funny or cooler, as they were definitely younger-than-I-am, Westchester hoodrats, but I gave the boy who was speaking a smile that really only meant, "Hey man, I heard you."
And it wasn't enough. When I looked ahead again he said, "I can't believe she just looked. How's she gonna catch me like that?" So it became a time for action. He was still talking about me when I turned around and did the quick action of puffing out my chest and beckoning him with two, flattened hands. His friends laughed and he said, "Yeah, she's all right."
I guess it was a victory but I didn't know why they were talking about me, anyway. I wasn't even wearing my pipe necklace.
The L.L. "Bean boots" I wear were bought in Maine but despite their weather-proof practicality, I wore them every day in Los Angeles. My hunting jacket is Real Tree Hardwoods, the authentic venison-for-dinner brand, but I've never held a gun and my archery aim is quite humbling. And I'm a vegetarian. I recently spent an hour online so I could read about, find the vending of, and order a super-street Galaxy tall tee, which I'll wear as a dress. Truth be told, here and now, I'm not known to be super-street. Past promotional gear from places I haven't been to and used work tags with strange names on them, past irony altogether, for the past few years my point of fashion has been to be a poser.
"Look at you! You're so hip!" Apollo Braun yelled in a German, gay accent. It was our first time in his store and he asked Owen to model for him. "Hear my CD, hear my CD, buy my book!"
We had steered into his store on Tamara's recommendation. "Oh, I've already heard your CD, Apollo Braun." Bought from him for three dollars, Tamara's copy was a collection of generic techno songs. Two songs had an identical tune and beat: one song's lyrics were, "you can look but you can't touch"; its matching song went, "you can touch but you can't fuck." When Tamara enters his store, Apollo cheers, "Jews!" Then he promises that he loves Jews.
"The book is $35. Come on, buy it!"
"Oh, I don't have $35 on me."
"I take debit!" He pulled a red, paperback book titled "America My Whore" and proceeded to autograph it for me. "Is this how you spell it?" He had writted, "Dear Aliina."
"'Aleeeeeena?' Love it! Love you!"
I wandered away from him and picked up a gold-painted fanniepack.
"Isn't that beautiful?" I had adamantly avoided wearing a fanniepack until this moment. "It's fifty. If you buy my book, which I AUTOGRAPHED!, you can have it for $35."
This was an offer I could not refuse, which felt strange because I had spent so much time being amicably yelled at that I hadn't looked at any items. "One second," I asked of him, and jogged across the store to look at other things I could get discounted. I found a piece beyond my wildest.
"That is very important," he told me as I walked to him holding a bended piece of gold pipe strung on a gold military chain. "It's $75. The best I can do for you is sixty. O.K. $50! But really, I can't go lower than that."
It was too gorgeous for me to heckle. I signed off on my debit card.
In LAX airport, after the bar had closed but before my red-eye was boarding, people were staring at me. I was wearing a peppermint-striped coat, red and purple bicycling pants, a t-shirt with cacti printed on it, and royal blue shoes. Two fat girls walked away from me rubber-necking, smiling in a really ugly way. I didn't mind though because, poetic justice, McDonald's had just closed, too. A guy near my age, dressed as a hippie, tried to smile at me, having judged that we have several ideaologies in common. I began to think I had really done something inappropriate when a boy with Down syndrome grabbed his mother's arm and whispered in her ear with a pinky pointed to me.
On my Metro-North way to Todd P's apartment, I took the window of an old man who was reading the in aisle seat. I took my coat off and opened my book. I had the pipe on.
"Can I ask you," started the old man, "where did you get that necklace? It's really something different."
I smiled at him. "My boyfriend's a plumber."
"Really? How 'bout that!"
"Yeah, Valentine's day." I shook the pipe at him, and then looked back at my book.