“Nicole Norman, you have to be out of your mind,” I murmured to myself disbelievingly, as I gazed at my reflection in the mirror. I was in the pink tonight – Shocking Pink to be exact. This was a first for me. Usually, I’m the ‘classy brunette professional’ type; sophisticated, a little aloof, definitely not easy pickings. My friend Cindy had been on my case for weeks, telling me I needed to loosen up a little, take chances, have more fun.
“Try going blonde for a change,” she badgered. “Get a new dress and new heels, too; something more daring. It will give you a whole new outlook. Trust me.”
I wasn’t really sure I needed a ‘whole new outlook’. For that matter, Cindy was already ‘blonde’ enough for both of us. She was the flighty, flirty, bimbo-ish social butterfly of our improbable pairing, drawing everyone to her like bees to honey. I liked having a friend like Cindy. I will be the first to admit; I was still a bit inhibited as ‘Nicole’, though not nearly so much as ‘Nick’. I enjoyed meeting and chatting with the people Cindy inevitably drew to our side.
So, okay; I spent a little money this week. Who am I kidding? We’re talking about women’s clubwear. I spent a ton of money. I found the dress – believe it or not – on a rack in my favorite adult magazine, video and toy store. It was appropriate for the venue, looking like something right out of a Vivid or Wicked Pictures video; a four-way stretch spandex bustier-style micro-minidress in a tight hooked knit, with long sleeves which ‘attached’ via some stitching just below the armpits. The overall effect was a sprayed-on Shocking Pink tube which left my upper chest, back, and shoulders bare and just covered my boobs and tush – as long as I didn’t sit down, bend over, or move around too much, as in walking or dancing. That would reveal the dark welts of my sheer black stockings, held in place by my tightly-laced corset’s eight garters, as well as a generous expanse of creamy thigh. Understated, it wasn’t. Overexposed? Well...
The dress was a perfect showcase for my new silicone breast forms. I had spent five hundred fifty dollars on the D-cuppers, plus an extra hundred to match the color to my own flesh tone. When the manufacturer promised ‘exact match’, they weren’t exaggerating. When attached to my chest with the special medical adhesive, the beveled flanges showed barely a trace of seam. With a little theatrical makeup, they looked for all the world to be real, right down to the dark areola and erect nipples.
I had the tush for it, too. When I was younger, ‘Nick’ had been razzed mercilessly by his schoolmates for his round, firm, prominent butt, so unlike the taut, flat rear ends of his friends. Since coming out as ‘Nicole’, I thanked God every day for my generously-proportioned caboose. With diet, exercise and a tight corset, I had the perfect twenty-two-inch waist and bubble butt to compliment my new boobies.
The gods smiled; I found matching purse and five-inch ankle-strap stiletto sandals at Wild Pair and earrings, necklace and bracelet at Claire’s. Serendipity? Kismet? Karma? Dumb, idiot luck? Whatever; I’ll take it all! Cindy and I had originally met at our mutual favorite wig store. She insisted on accompanying me this time to select just the right hair. Knowing Cindy’s tastes in tonsorial artistry, not to mention her powers of persuasion (damn it, why did my best ‘girlfriend’ have to be a lawyer in real life?), I tried to gracefully extricate myself from the experience – without success. So, I wound up with this...
Okay, stick to the good points. It does coordinate nicely with the rest of the outfit. I like the soft, tickling feel as it brushes back and forth across the bare skin of my shoulders and back; mid-back, actually. Do I look good with a mane of big, loose curls? Well, yeah, I’m willing to concede the point - but it’s not so outrageously full and poufy that I can’t walk through standard doorways without snagging it on the frame. As long as everyone around me is wearing sunglasses (a big thing in the club scene here; everyone wants to show how ‘cool’ they are), they won’t be flash-blinded when the lights hit my dazzling pale-champagne tresses. To be honest, it sorta-kinda looks like something you would see in a music video.
I did my makeup accordingly; not Tammy Faye, but provocative. I guess that was Cindy’s influence on me, too. Well, it went with the outfit and hair, didn’t it? I looked at myself in the mirror and nodded. Here we go; I’m ready to take my place next to the other trashionistas. What the hell; it’s only one night. If it doesn’t work, no harm, no foul; I’ll just go back to being Miss Understated-Hard-To-Get-Brunette.
It was my turn to drive. (Actually, I try to make every turn my turn to drive. Cindy tends to overdo when guys start buying her drinks. It simply would not do for us to get pulled over by the police on our way home.) Bless her heart; for once, my partner-in-crime was waiting outside the entrance to her building when I pulled up. She slipped into the passenger seat – and a state of shock when she saw me. Really, Girlfriend; I’m flattered you want to show me how healthy your tonsils are, but you can close your mouth now.
“Oh ... my... God,” she gasped.
Always ready with a snappy comeback, I gave her one.
“Just... drive,” she murmured, her mouth drawn into a huge smirk.
During our trip into the city, she only broke her silence once.
“Did you get implants, Sweetie?” she teased. “I thought you were ... smaller.”
“Cute,” I responded tersely. “You should try out for Last Comic Standing. Break a leg!”
Another reason I like to drive on our little excursions is I like my car. So does Cindy. Yes, it was absurdly, obscenely expensive. Yes, it is utterly impractical. Even though it is a V-Six, is has the same or better power than many American V-Eights. The sleek, low-slung Japanese styling is reminiscent of the best of the Italian exoticars. What’s the point of having a dream car if all you do is dream about it? I’m sure, some day, I’ll have an old, dependable family sedan or minivan, complete with family (will that make me a Soccer Mom?). Until then, this is absolutely perfect for teleporting two gorgeous chicks (Cindy and me) to their weekend destination-of-preference - and making them look like stars in the process.
As we approached Showbar, our favorite chic, trendy, see-and-be-seen dance club, Cindy broke her silence.
“Valet it,” she murmured.
Well, yeah; I’m not an idiot. As much as we like to strut our stuff up the street to the door – or, at least, the end of the line with the other schlubs – I would much rather pay a little extra to some movie-star-wannabe to park it in the lighted, secure lot across the street so it won’t be missing anything (wheels and tires, battery, seats, stereo, doors, body panels, glass, engine, transmission) when we returned for it. Okay, I like seeing the way we turn heads when we pull up, too.
We pulled up and heads turned. Sigh. A bright-eyed, dimple-cheeked next-Brad-Pitt type in a red vest hurried around to my side, opened my door for me and held out his hand for mine. I stepped out, tugging down my skirt in the process, then looked up to smile my thank-you. The goof was just standing there, stunned, staring at me with a huge grin stuck on his face. I snapped my beautifully-manicured fingertips a couple of times to get his attention. Hello, I’m here. Thank you. You can get in and park the car now.
“Huh?” he uttered. “Oh, sorry. I’m just ... thank you, Miss Spires. I’ll ... take care of it right away.
I walked around the front of the car to join Cindy on the sidewalk. As I rounded the passenger-side fender and turned in the direction of the waiting line, the crowd fell silent, as though God himself had reached down from the heavens and snatched the breath from their lungs. Then the chant began.
Cassie! Cassie! Cassie! Cassie!
“We love you, Cassie!!!!”
“I have all your CDs!”
“Smile for me so I can take your picture with my cell phone. My friends won’t believe this!”
“Hey, Cassie! Did you get new implants? Lookin’ good, Girlfriend!”
I looked around, then at Cindy. The smirk on her face was even bigger than before. I started to strut down the sidewalk toward the end of the line. Before I had taken my second step, the door guy had unhooked the red velvet rope leading to the entrance.
“Right this way, Miss Spires,” he gushed deferentially. “It’s a pleasure to have you and your entourage here tonight. Have a good time.”
Entourage? I glanced once again at the empty space behind us, then at Cindy, then back at the door guy.
“My ‘entourage’ and I thank you,” I responded brightly, relishing the special treatment.
As Cindy and I advanced towards the door, I tilted my head close to hers.
“Miss Spires?” I murmured in her ear.
“You didn’t know?” she asked, astonished. “Girl, you could be her identical twin. Let’s run with it a while and see what happens.”
Believe it or not, there are people on this planet who do not hang on Cassidy Spire’s every song, video, interview, romance, public appearance, photo op, sound bite, smile, frown, sneer, denial, arrest, emotional breakdown and/or fart. I know that sounds like heresy in this “It’s now, it’s happening, it’s trendy” culture, but that’s just the way it is. For instance, the Amish have neither televisions nor the electricity to power them. There are still a few wayward Imperial Japanese soldiers hiding out in caves in the South Pacific, unaware the war is over, let alone who or what is ‘in’. The Dalai Lama and his acolytes have more important spiritual issues to dwell on. Then, there is me.
At least, I am aware of Cassie Spires. I didn’t see her movie (singular). I don’t buy her CDs. I am certain I could name all her songs that I know on the fingers of one hand and still securely hold a beer mug – that is, if I drank beer. I stopped following the exploits of Pop divas after Cher’s absolutely-positively-I’m-not-kidding-this-time-this-is-for-real-your-last chance-ever-from-now-on-I’m-only-doing-Vegas-like-Celine-and-you-can-come-to-me ‘Farewell Tour.’ Would I recognize Cassie Spires if I saw her on the street? Probably not. Apparently, all I had to do tonight was look in the mirror.
We were ‘comped’ right through the front door. No cover charge? Hey, I could get used to this. I was having more trouble getting used to the expressions of abject shock on the faces around me as we made our way across the main floor. I scanned my outfit more than once, making certain nothing was showing. I felt vaguely uneasy about all the attention, as though I had worn a pink polo shirt, plaid pants, white leather belt and shoes and a bad comb-over, like some beer-bellied country-club duffer. The difference was, everyone was fawning over me, not smirking. Cindy just strutted regally, her arm through mine, as though it was the most natural thing on earth.
It wasn’t our first visit to the VIP Room by a long shot. We practically lived there, thanks to Cindy’s quasi-celebrity. This time, I was given the star treatment; best table (overlooking the dance floor), complimentary champagne (my first time for Cristal; highly overrated, but what the heck - it was free), the works. I had several opportunities to scribble my autograph – well, Cassie’s autograph – on napkins and business cards. As long as there isn’t an authenticator from Christie’s or Sotheby’s on hand, everything will be hunky-dory.
The conversation was a little difficult to keep up with, coming as it was from several directions at once.
“Cassie, are you in town for a concert? I never heard a thing about it! Can you get me tickets?”
“Cassie, did you get new implants? Your boobs used to be ... smaller. I adore the new ones!”
“Cassie, that look is so right out of your Ballistic video. I love it!”
“Cassie, where’s the baby? Didn’t you bring the baby?”
I fielded that one.
“No, she has a drinking problem. She’s okay with formula, but really can’t handle the hard stuff. I left her at home with...”
(Kelvin? Kris? Conan?)
“ ... Kyle.”
“Kyle? Who’s Kyle? What about your husband, Kenny?”
“Oh Honey, that was soooo last week,” I ad-libbed glibly. “Don’t you watch Access? God knows, I pay them enough to shill for me. Anyway, after nine months, it’s my turn to go out and have a little fun.”
“I can’t believe you got your figure back so fast! What’s your secret?”
“Surrogacy,” I responded matter-of-factly. “Try it some time. Waitress?”
The second bottle was better than the first. Maybe it was just my perception of it (I already had a nice buzz going from the first bottle). Maybe it was because the hangers-on actually went to get drinks of their own and left Cindy and me a little breathing room. Of course, that couldn’t last forever.
Song! Song! Song! Song!
The floor trembled from the stamp of feet on the main floor. My chair moved, unbidden, a little with each thundering pulse. Even the exposed steel I-beams above our heads were vibrating in perfect sync. I looked over the edge of the balcony and saw the sea of faces staring up at me and chanting. I stared at Cindy – and gulped.
“You’d better do it,” she urged, stifling a guffaw. “They won’t let it go.”
“Do?” I repeated. “What?”
“Sing one of your songs,” she answered, as smug as could be. “I’ll do the background vocals, if you want. I’ve always wanted to be on stage.”
“Sing one of my songs?” I aped incredulously. “You gotta be kidding me!”
She wasn’t kidding me. Cindy snared my arm in hers, hustled me down the stairs and up on stage before the amassed throng on the dance floor. The applause and cheers were tumultuous. I looked around the stage at my feet. Don’t these things usually have a trap door? Won’t they be kind enough to open it and let me drop out of sight? No such luck on either count.
“You’re fine...” Cindy hissed in my ear.
Easy for her to say; they won’t be lynching her when they find out I’m a fraud.
“ ... just sing the song, then wave and get off the stage. Don’t thank them, don’t say anything. They’re used to that kind of diva behavior. In fact, they’ll expect it – and love you for it.”
“Wha-what song should I sing?” I stammered. “I don’t know any of...”
“Sing ‘Ballistic‘, Silly,” she chided, shaking her head. “Don’t you know anything? It’s Number One on all the charts. MTV is playing it to death. Now, smile and be fabulous. I’ll be right here behind you. No one will suspect a thing!”
Yeah, right. After this little stunt, I’ll be Number One, too – on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
The Jumbotron behind me exploded into life with the real Cassie Spire’s Ballistic video. The cacophonous sound from the speaker banks was almost a physical force, nearly blowing me off the stage. I didn’t trust the crowd to catch me, but I’m sure they would get in a grope or two before I crashed to the ground.
If I hadn’t been a couple of sheets to the wind, I would have been paralyzed with fright. As I listened to the intro, I suddenly realized I was sorta-kinda familiar with it. I flipped through MTV a lot – on my way from NatGeo to The History Channel and back. Cindy was right; Cassie’s new video seemed to be on every time MTV came up on my television screen.
“I saw you ‘cross the dance floor and my heart stood still, I never
knew someone like you could make me feel such a thrill. I slinked
up to your side, caressed your cheek and nuzzled your face, I wanna
sex you up from head to toe, I’m such a disgrace.
I’m goin’ ballistic!
Oh, baby can’t you see,
I wanna be your everything
and keep you here next to me.
I’m goin’ ballistic!
Don’t treat this as a game,
I wanna feel you in my body,
I don’t have any shame.”