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...