Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When You Do Something for Charity, the World Seems Like a Brighter Place

Last night I worked a charity dinner at Tremont 647 to benefit my boss's favorite worthwhile cause: fighting hunger through the hunger relief organization, Share Our Strength. I spent the evening working as a waitress at this event for free.

That means pouring wine for free, refilling endless glasses of water for free, running, smiling, nodding and laughing at bad jokes for free, clearing and bussing course after course for free, and in some cases, being scolded and screamed at by high profile chefs, all out of the goodness of my very own, very charitable heart.

After the guests left with their bellies full and their conscience's aglow, the work was not complete. We had to rack the hundreds of rental plates, glasses, and silverware, sort the rental linens, and clean up the copius amounts of mess we left in the wake of this well-intended hurricane of a benefit. The one benefit we workers reaped for this charitable donation of our time was the privilege of imbibing all the leftover donated wine, beer, and booze we could handle. Because that seems like the cool thing to do on a school night, after having worked fifteen hours already and looking down the barrel of a busy day ahead.

And of course, after sipping free wine from a bottomless coffee mug (so as not to dirty one of the precious wine glasses we were racking to return to Be Our Guest), the obvious next step is to follow all of my friends out to Anchovies once the clock strikes 12:30, instead of heading home to crawl into bed because I have to be up early for work. Eh--What's another hour?

Another really logical decision I made last night was to then follow my stumbling coworkers over to the Beverage Czar's house "for one" before calling it a night, pouring Punk Rock girl in a cab (maybe I should call her Drunk Rock Girl), kissing A-Lo and Chewy goodbye on the cheek, and skipping down the street to arrive at my house at 2:30 in the morning.

What do I feel this morning, as I pat flesh colored makeup over the dark circles under my eyes? Is that a martyrly sigh I heave as I smooth my hair in the mirror, and cross my fingers that I'll be able to feign presentability to my office full of square publishing folk, in spite of my late-night carousing. Is that a vague surge of pride I feel, for a job well done, for so successfully getting my charity on?

No, wait--that's just the beginning murmurs of a dull headache, nipping at the nape of my neck.

As I step out the front door, the birds are singing (when did they get back from the South?), the crossing guards are helping children cross the street (easy on the whistle, I can see your white gloves from here, I'm sure that car right in front of you can, too), and the hustle of commuters is well under way (hey, I'm walking here, you douchebag, I hate to break it to you but pedestrians have the right of way.)

I am assaulted by sunshine (please God let me find my sunglasses???)

The world sure seems like a brighter place when you do something for charity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Operation Pick-UP Scene Part I: Outside the bar...

THE SETTING: Clery’s (not Faneuil Hall), Boston, MA

Clery’s is an anomaly to me, because it is a totally straight straight bar, like the kind of place you go to when you’re really looking to affirm your heterosexuality by doing something like making out with a complete and utter stranger at the bar who you just met and most likely will never see again. However, Clery’s is located on the edge of Boston’s gay neighborhood, between the tony Back Bay and the South End. Go figure?

• Undercover Blonde’s twin brother, Undercover Brother
• Undercover Brother, Damien, Errol, the Animal, assorted other friends of Undercover Brother

THE OUTFIT: I labored over the outfit choice for some time before settling on something that I feel completely & totally myself in. My logic—this book is about me living as a blonde, so I should still be dressing as me, right? I wore:
• Fairly light wash James jeans, very fitted thru knee & slimming
• Scoop neck black tee-shirt, also very tight non-cotton material and slimming
• Simple pointy-toe, 3-inch black heels
• Dangly chandelier earrings
• Shiny rope necklace

• I will be treated differently in the bar as a blonde than I ever have been in the past as a brunette
• I will be a blonde among many blondes in these bars

“You’re the bombshell now,” Paul says to me, his words slurring a little. At least I think that’s what he says, but between the bumping dirty hip-hop and the shrieks of laughter coming from the girls standing to my right, crowded around Undercover Brother, I’m not sure I’ve heard him right.

“What did you say?” I yell over the music.
“You’re the bombshell, now,” he shouts into my ear.
I’m flattered…I think. “Well what does that mean?” I ask him.
“You’re the bombshell, like you’re the prettiest girl here. It was my sister until you got here, now it’s you. You’re, like, the girl everyone’s going to want to talk to…” he says. His consonants are blurred, and his stare is glassy. Now he is just staring at me, not saying anything, his head tilted slightly to the side, like he’s looking at a painting.

“Well Christ,” I think, “this dude may be drunk, but he certainly isn’t stupid.” Just seconds after crossing the threshold into this place, I felt a surge of confidence, realizing that in a room full of soft, freshman fifteen laden bodies, I in fact represent the beautiful people. The room is a sea of mostly white, post-college age girls and guys, all of whom look almost exactly the same to me: The girls wear jeans for the most part, but I see only a few pairs of the requisite designer labels, like Sevens or Citizens, that are any girl’s staple choice for a night out. From the looks of it, these girls buy their jeans Express or the Gap, and their “going out on Saturday night” outfits feature said jeans, paired with camisoles and sheer, feathery tops from the same stores. I do a quick head count and notice that the room is populated for the most part by brunettes; brunettes and girls sporting cheap, painted on highlights. I see just one bright blonde-haired girl in the nearby vicinity. But whether the girls here are blonde or brunette, they all appear to be wearing this same boring uniform. The guys are all dressed like Undercover Brother: button-down shirt, either striped, plaid, or plain, jeans of the same ilk as the ladies, and, mortified as I am to say it, a few guys are even sporting pleated khakis.

So there was a change in plans for the evening: I got the text from my brother at around 11, just as I was changing from my black shirt, black pants, black apron waitressing uniform into my civvies:

At Clerys bring your hot friends/

And as abhorrent as the scene at Clery’s is to me, I am relieved, because at least it is in the neighborhood. I’ve had a great night at work tonight, but the last thing I feel like doing is trekking to Faneuil Hall to pay a cover to drink weak well-poured drinks in some crappy pseudo-Irish Pub. Clery’s may still be a crappy pseudo-Irish Pub, but at least it’s within walking distance.

I convince Photo Chick, my friend from the the restaurant, to come with me to Clery’s. We’ve already had one drink before leaving work, and since she’s a lightweight, I find that she’s surprisingly amenable to the situation. “It’s research,” I say, and for some reason, she’s totally game.

Photo Chick and I are in line for less than a minute, and are deeply involved in a conversation about the feminist underpinnings of this book idea (what else?), when I feel the less-than-sober eyes of the guy in front of me searching my face, trying to make contact with mine. Even though I’ve never met him, I know this guy: He is a carbon copy of the preppy, pseudo-hippie guys that dominated the popular crowd of my Southern New Hampshire high school. I am so familiar with the type, it’s not even funny: he drives his dad’s old Saab, he plays lacrosse, and he probably went to Bowdoin, or maybe B.C. This is exactly the kind of guy who wouldn’t talk to me in high school, and I am certain that he is only talking to me now because of my blondeness. Even now, so many years later, I am so disastrously not his type that I kind of wish I had a picture of myself in high school to show him. “See that freaky girl in the Cure tee-shirt? The one with the pink hair and the black eyeliner, smoking a cigarette like a badass? Uh-huh, that’s me. I may be blonde on the outside, but on the inside, that’s what I’m about.” I watched him notice me as we walked up to the line, and though I’m completely focused upon Photo Chick and our conversation, I sense that he has been fumbling to figure out a way to make a move ever since. This is when I learn Lesson #1 of the evening: Clery’s guys are not subtle. When his searching looks fail to get my attention, the guy in front of me simply does the next, most obvious thing: he blatantly interrupts me.

I have been telling Photo Chick a story about a guy I used to work with named Tad, who started a restaurant-wide rumor that, prior to my career as a waitress at Tremont 647, I had had a long and lucrative career as a stripper. “Tad,” she shrieks, “Ew! Tad?”

“Oh, I know, right?” I say. “Tad! Like, who is named that?”

“Uh,” says drunk guy in front of me, in feigning offense, “My name is Todd.” He pauses for a second, and Photo Chick and I just look at him. “I’m kidding. Actually, my name is John.”

“I said Tad,” I say, and shooting him a withering look, then turn back to Photo Chick.

Then the line starts to move, and Todd/John gets caught up in the challenging task of finding his ID while totally wasted. In a moment, Photo Chick and I are at the head of the line, and she suddenly realizes that she has forgotten her I.D.

“But I’m thirty,” she tells the bouncer, who looks all of 24-years old.

“I can’t let you in without ID,” the bouncers responds.

“But we just came from work,” Photo Chick says.

“I can’t let you in without ID he responds.” Photo Chick turns to me. “What should I do?”

I raise my eyebrows at her & shrug. “Get your ass home and get your ID. I’ll meet you inside.”

...to be continued...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Goldilocks and the Three Steaks

My second job, the one that keeps me in Sevens, is as a waitress at Tremont 647 in Boston's South End. I work there every Saturday.

This Saturday I was waiting on a three-top who were at least a little bit tipsy when they sat. By the time it was time for me to take their order, they were well on their way to drunk-ville. Situations like this can occasionally be perilous, but these particular patrons were hilarious, capable of taking a little shit, and I loved them.

WOMAN IN SEAT 2: I have to have a steak. I've been thinking of steak since this morning, since you mentioned it (points across the table to MAN IN SEAT 4)
KITTY: The steak is delicious
MAN IN SEAT 4: Well, I'm going to have to have one too. I'll have mine medium well, sweetie. I like me just a little pink in the middle.
KITTY: Who doesn't? (looking at WOMAN IN SEAT 2)And how would you like your steak cooked?
WOMAN IN SEAT 2: I'm going to have mine medium...(dramatic pause)...rare
KITTY: Ooh. Excellent. (looking at WOMAN IN SEAT 3) And, what can I get for you, dear?
WOMAN IN SEAT 3: Well...I just don't know...I mean, it's so unoriginal...but I really want to have the steak, too...
KITTY: (gently, affirmatively) Hey, it's a good steak. I guarantee, you won't regret it.
WOMAN IN SEAT 3: (hemming and hawing) Oh, all right. But I can't have mine done medium well, that's just too cooked for me. Nor do I want mine done medium rare, because I think that will be too pink. If I get it medium rare will there be blood? I can't handle blood. Why don't I get mine...(another long pause, as if this is a VERY important decision)...medium
KITTY: Now that's an easy order, you're all having the same thing. Of course, I guess they are a bit different, since one steak is medium well, one steak is medium rare, and one steak is juuuust right.

I'm like Goldilocks and the Three Steaks

Friday, March 17, 2006

Operation Pick-Up Scene: Part I

Operation Pick-up Scene: Part I

THE SETTING: Faneuil Hall Bar, Boston, MA

Faneuil Hall is a very famous part of Boston well known for:

a) Its history. Faneuil Hall itself as an extremely historical place, and was, in some ways, the birthplace of the revolution. Like, Sam Adams and other famous Bostonian revolutionaries used to rabble-rouse there.
b) It’s a terrible tourist trap.
c) It is the home of tons of cheesy bars and pseudo Irish pubs.

• Undercover Blonde’s twin brother, Undercover Brother
• Friends of Undercover Brother, Damien, Anton, Errol

• I will be treated differently in the bar as a blonde than I ever have been in the past as a brunette
• I will be a blonde among the many blondes who frequent these types of bars


I know that going to the bars in Faneuil Hall is inevitable. It is a necessary evil, which I think will offer tons of relevant data for the project. Faneuil Hall bars are big, cheesy pick-up joints, populated with all manner of insufferable people, running the gamut from frat boys & sorority girls in the throes of rush week, to frat boys & sorority girls in the throes of quarter-life crisis, all grown up & living as pseudo-adults, to 30+ men and women from surrounding suburbs, yucking it up in Boston for the evening. There are all manner of tourists, bridge and tunnel folk, and members of the enormous Boston student community that swells the population of the city every Fall. The crowd is, in my opinion, terrible. There is a reason that I left the small town in NH where I came up, chose to go to an artsy liberals arts school for college over the very affordable UNH, ended up with a career in publishing over a lucrative career in, say, business or finance, and moved to Boston’s original gay neighborhood instead of a student slum like Allston or Brighton: to get away from people like this.

I am not a fan of the Faneuil Hall bar scene, I dread the idea of going to such places, and I’m totally stumped as to who the hell I’m going to get to brave these joints with me. However, since this is exactly the type of bar where guys who are “into blondes” hang out. At least, I think this is the case. I’m not sure this is so, since I try to visit these bars as infrequently as possible. However, part of living as a blonde myself means living as a blonde in her natural habitat. Thus, a foray into this type of bar as a blonde imperative.

Just as I was beginning to freak out about the prospect of this situation, I received a phone call from my twin, the Undercover Brother. Actually, it was a text message, because Undercover Brother isn’t a man of many words. It went something like this:

Coming 2 boston 4 parade next weekend make room I ur apartment

Now, I haven’t seen Undercover Brother since Thanksgiving. He is currently finishing up his third year of med school in Philadelphia, and if you read the recently published book, Men at Work by my author, Wendy Straker, you know: med students are really busy. I, too, am very busy, working two jobs to make ends meet because my glamorous publishing industry job simply can’t sustain the fabulosity of my blonde life in Boston.

Undercover Brother and I are twins, but we really couldn’t be more different people. He has dark brown hair, I have…well… blonde hair. He studied Math and Science amongst the Ivy leaguers at UPenn; I studied creative writing and literature amongst the artsy lesbians at Sarah Lawrence College. He always played on athletic teams and was really into sports (like sportscenter every day, twice a day, into sports); I read voraciously and wrote and dyed my hair funny colors and wore black dark eyeliner. If Undercover Brother and I were one person instead of twins, we’d be super human--if a bit strange.

In addition to being my opposite in practically every other way under the sun, Undercover Brother is also way into the bars in Faneuil Hall.

When I called Undercover Brother back to tell him that yes, I was making room in my apartment, I explained my project to him. He said he thought it sounded fascinating and was quite enthusiastic. In Undercover Brother speak, “I’m way into your project” sounds like this: “Sounds pretty sweet.”

To be continued...

what's wrong with America

(My car is in the middle.)

At first I was tentative about parking my little car between these two monstrousities. I drove right past them when I pulled into the parking lot this morning, looking for a kinder, gentler resting place for my little corolla.

Then I decided, what the hell? Why should I let these cars intimidate my car? Why should I let these people push me around? There is nothing right about driving a car that big, and everything right about driving my little gas efficient Corolla. There's a gaping hole in the ozone layer, people, hello!

So I back my car all the way up the lengh of the parking lot, and slid her right between these two behemoths.

I find even a speck of yellow paint on the passenger's side door when I go out for lunch today, I will key that monster H2, post-haste.

Oh, and since you probably can't see it in the picture, the Hummer's license plate reads:


For those of you who couldn't really tell if the car is big.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

brunette envy

Is it wrong to be envious of your friends?

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my pretty petite brunette friend, and I realized while we were sitting there, sipping blonde colored wine, that we are the aesthetic opposite of one another. She is tiny, brunette, with dark eyes, eyebrows and perfect almost olive skin. I am tall, blonde (now), and rosy complexioned. I was having one of those nights, you know, the night where your jeans just don't feel as sexy and tight as they did two days ago when you took them out of the dryer, and your hair looks cute when you're putting it up in the mirror, but seems to fall flat and bounce less, and just looks generally weird the minute you walk away from the mirror. But across from me, my pretty petite brunette friend, looked perfectly pulled together, pretty, petite, and brunette.

I realized while we were talking that, ever since I was young, a part of me has wanted to look just like that. I guess you could chalk it up to always wanting what you don't have, but it occured to me today that I have another reason for feeling this way, and that it's really all my brother's fault.

As I mention in numbers 4 & 5 of my About me section, I have several brothers: two of them are 12 and 9 years my senior, and one is my twin. My twin, who I always dreamed would some day miraculously turn into a girl, stayed "cute" waaaay longer than I did. I know they say girls develop faster than boys, but seriously, I was like a head taller than him my whole life until highschool. My awkward my-body-is-changing-and-I-don't-know-why stage dawned early, and lasted a hell of a lot longer than his.

The reason our uneven development bothered me all those years ago is because, with his goofy crooked teeth and sparkly blue eyes, my brother always seemed to steal the show. He got all of the attention from the cool friends of the aforementioned older brothers, especially their girlfriends, who would dote on my twin whenever they came over to our house. They'd say, "awww, he's so cute," or "isn't that adorable, he likes Motley Crue!" And in the background I'd be jumping up and down, waving my hands in the air, going "I like Motley Crue!!! I like Motley Crue, too!!!!" But of course, no one ever heard me. They were too busy cooing over his big crooked smile and his sparkly blue eyes.

"What an asshole," I 'd think, as those cool older girls floated past me in a cloud of perfume, bangs almost as high as the ceiling, eyes rimmed with blue pencil. i wanted them to notice me. We were girls, after all. Where was the solidarity? The mentorship I so desperately needed, being the only sister in a house full of boys? "If only he wasn't here," I'd think, "maybe those big girls would notice me, take me under their wing, and teach me how to get my bangs big, my perm poodle-esque."

I was certain that if I was shorter and cuter, everyone would pay attention to me, too.

So, here I am, 17 years later, and on nights when I can't get my hair quite right, or don't feel 100% comfortable in my skin, I still find myself wishing I was just a few inches shorter, that I had a petite little frame, with small hands and a more feminine shoe size. I imagine being exactly the opposite of me, and wonder if my life would be any better.

Is that wrong?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Jason Lies...or, the Denial Brunette, Part I

Jason lies.

I realized this about a week ago…but didn’t want to admit it.

He is a liar, liar, pants on fire.

You can see his lies at work, pervading my thought patterns and ruining the concept behind this blog in my most recent post of just two weeks ago (by the way, excuse me for being remiss in posting, dear readers, but don’t worry, I plan to bombard you with thoughts on blonding, to make up for it.) Here is what he said, which led to a trail of lies, denial, delusion, and self-deceipt, which I will detail below:

JASON: Brunette? Not you, honey, you were always blonde.

ME: [Hopefully, eyes wide with glee] Really?

JASON: [Nodding his head with a curt up and down motion that makes his nod seem utterly decisive] Mm-hmm.

ME: *GASP* You know, I always thought I was blonde! I really always did! When I was a baby I was a blonde, a reeeal blondie-blonde, like with a white-blonde curly mop. I mean, over the years it got darker, but brunette? Please! It’s just that people’s definitions of ‘blonde’ vary so much. I mean, I was always a dirty blonde, in my own opinion, it wasn’t until I got to high school when someone actually referred to me as a brunette, and I gotta tell you, I was so offended…

And I just rattled on like that for god knows how long, Jason staring back at me in the mirror, nodding that little nod of his with the tiniest smile playing on his lips.

Jason lies, but my pretty petite brunette friend, who should also be known to the elves of blogland as my super-savvy publishing industry friend, does not. A week later, while giving me feedback and comments on the project, she ever so gently pointed out to me that my illusion of my own natural blonde-ness was complete and utter bullshit. While writing about this project, I’d written a sentence about the “dark honey-colored hue of my natural locks.” All she had to do was put her finger under it, look at me, and shake her head pretty little brunette head.

To call myself a “natural blonde” is to lie; my pretty petite brunette friend knows it, I know it, and probably all of the people who have met me personally and who read this thing know it. Yet somehow, I always felt with deep certitude that really, I’ve always been a blonde.

It’s time for me to own up—this project was never about going “undercover” as a blonde to me. In my own skewed little reality, I’ve been a blonde on the inside all along. To vain, in-denial-Kitty, this project has always secretly been about getting back to my blonde roots, about living as the real blonde me. This whole idea, while pitched to the entire world and all the readers of blogland as an “experiment to see how the other half lives,” was secretly about experiencing life as I was sure god probably intended me to live it, but merely forgot to keep up with. He’s busy, he got sidetracked, he let my hair get dark, and according to my mother, this was most likely because I insisted on dyeing my it funny colors when I was a teenager.

Move over, James Frey. Make room for the real author of this blog, the DENIAL BRUNETTE.

Friday, March 03, 2006

shimmer lights

"The first thing you need to know about going blonde is Shimmer Lights."

My head is dipped back over the black sink, cold fake marble pressed against the nape of my neck. Like, really cold. It’s-20-degrees-out-and-this-sink-isn’t-making-me-any-warmer cold. Jason is pulling the foils out of my hair in rapid succession and crumpling them into balls as he drops them into the sink. So haphazard compared to the careful, loving way he wrapped each chunk of hair up in the first place, like precious little taquitos. Foil crackles in my ears and I can barely hear him.

"Shimmer Lights?" I say, "Really?"

"Shimmer Lights. You like it hot, right Kitty? What am I thinking, of course you do," he winks. Without waiting for my answer, he sprays piping hot water along my hairline. Water and bleach--oh yes, we went with bleach this time--cascade into the sink. A single warm drop escapes down my neck and trickles into my left ear. Ew.

“Clairol Shimmer Lights, right Dan?" he says to the assistant sudsing a scalp in the neighboring bowl.

"Mmm-hmm, always use Shimmer Lights," Dan nods, widening his eyes at me in the mirror. His lower lids are lined in dark black pencil, making his agreement that much more emphatic.

Jason has rinsed the bleach out of my hair and has pulled my hair back into a thick rope which he massages with baby-pink cream, none other than Shimmer Lights. It doesn't smell quite like the banana-melon-daquiri stuff he usually uses, or the orange-blossom, jungle-in-your-bathroom stuff the Aveda salon I used to frequent used. But something about Shimmer Lights smells warm, enticing, and…familiar.

Jason and Dan are commiserating on the virtues of Shimmer Lights above me, as well as the various ratios of chemicals he used to get me this blonde. The conversation sounds something like this:

DAN: “Is she 2 parts x with a level three z?"
JASON: "Oh, no no no, it’s x with z with y.”

I watch in the mirror as they exchange a knowing, this-is-why-I-love-my-job look. I know I should be paying attention, taking mental notes because really this is all research for the book, but I am far, far away at this point, combing my memory for that elusive smell. It’s something from my childhood…something almost anise-y, apple-y even…

“Anyway, Kitty. I always use Shimmer Lights on all my blondes. What it does is take the yellow out of the color. It alleviates any of that yellow-y, orange-y hue, that brassiness? You know what I'm talking about?”

“Uh-huh…” I say…Whatever it is, it’s got an almost sweet but not quite sweet undertone…

“Remember how I told you that brown hair always wants to go orange when it goes blonde? Well, not yours of course, honey. You were always blonde.” See why I love him?

“Okay…” I say…The smell, it’s like the olfactory equivalent of sucralose, like Crystal Light pink lemonade mix, only for hair…

“So Shimmer Lights brightens you up, makes all that terrible brass go away,” Jason shakes his head in disgust.

“It smells funny,” I say. I almost like it. “I can’t put my finger on it…but it reminds me of…”

“Old ladies?” he laughs. “It’s what old ladies use to make their hair white. Probably something used by your…”

But I remember it now, and I finish the sentence for him: “Grandma! Jason, Shimmer Lights smells like Grandma!!!”

As you can see from the photo, the Shimmer Lights work.

Thanks, Clairol, for turning me into the blonde old lady I always knew I could be!