Last Saturday was Girls & Boys night at Plush again. I have yet to miss one. They're always interesting, and this one was no exception.
I changed outfits three times before I left the house, as I'm always uber-conscious of what I wear to this thing. In fact, Ladybug on Ludlow can probably trace a significant percentage of its sales to my compulsive Girls & Boys outfit-buying over the last 13 months. I finally decided on the black-beaded top and the black mini and the black go-go boots. You can never go wrong in all black.
When I arrived, I noticed they were handing out bubbles to a select few (mostly cute girls), and being the big little girl that I am I decided to get my hands on some. I succeeded (I must be cute), and when the band (Mallory, one of my favorites) started, my bubble blowing started as well. Thank God for the all-black ensemble, because within 15 minutes I was slimed up good with the bubbles but was having a damn good time.
However, my goldfish bowl-sized Chardonnay that Jared or Fabian always hand me as soon as I walk in suffered a bit for it. "Mmm. Lovely bouquet, a bit foamy though."
Of course, Girls & Boys is a definite see-and-be-seen kind of place. I ran into lots of friends but also some folks I wouldn't necessarily call my friends. After everyone gets enough liquor in them, though, the friend factor seems to get higher. And the inhibition factor gets way lower.
It's not even startling anymore to go to Girls & Boys and see girls dancing on tables, the bar, booths and even the occasional well-placed amp. (OK, so that was just me. Ask Puck why there's a missing piece of one of the chandeliers.)
Although I ended up dancing only on the floor this time, I danced 'til I thought my legs would fall off. The DJ, Mikey, really knows how to keep people moving in that place, I tell ya. I was beginning to regret the black-beaded top, though, as it was made of sweater material and man that room was hot! I bought a ring pop from Christina, the door/cigarette girl, to refresh myself. And then came the tequila shots.
The soapy wine was finished, and I was on such a good stretch dancing I couldn't be troubled taking a glass on the floor. So I got my drinking done all in one shot (literally). The first one wasn't bad, but when a friend bought me a second I ended up having to spend some quality time on the fire escape and then in the ladies room. I decided after that to pop into a cushy booth and watch everyone else shake it for the rest of the night.
Heat and inability to hold my liquor aside, it was a great night, as always, and I already can't wait for the next one!
City Mouse, Country Mouse
In the book that many of us read as children, the city mouse lured his country mouse cousin to come to the city to see the excitement. The allure of the city amazed the country mouse, but he learned danger lurked around corners and eventually longed for the abundant quiet country life he called home. Luckily, in this part of the world, I've been able to be both a city and a country girl. Let me explain.
Being one who loves wide-open spaces and fields of gold, the outskirts of Cincinnati offer me a yard for a big dog and a nearby farm with 110 acres to board my horse. It also offers a lower cost of living in some regards. This might not last, though. As the suburbs gain ground and popularity, it's getting more and more expensive to be a country girl so close to the city.
Still, I like living with trees and no need for privacy fences. In fact, I even find the 35-minute drive to downtown and the river relaxing and good for transitioning the mind — as long as I don't attempt it at rush hour.
A couple of years back I entertained the idea of city living and took an apartment first in East Walnut Hills and then later in historic Covington. Both places were small and quaint, which served as a perfect getaway from the country life of the northern suburbs. I could drink as many cocktails as I liked and grab a taxi home for around 5 bucks. It also was a good place to entertain friends who wouldn't perhaps be invited home for the holidays, if you get my drift.
I loved living in walking distance to downtown for daytime jaunts and exercise, as the pulse of the city is so different than the hum of neighbors' lawnmowers. It was my daily treat to start the day with a run to Mount Adams and around Eden Park or along the Newport Levee in Northern Kentucky before going to work. The skyline was there to reach out and touch, or so it seemed.
It was also easy to take advantage of Party in the Park midweek and all the festivities at Sawyer Point throughout the year. Plus, my favorite part was the daily coffee and scones at the Wildflower Bakery on Greenup Street, where everyone knew each other. It felt like home in the city, but it had a touch of European flavor as well.
I admit I played hard the four years I kept a place in the city. I reluctantly gave up the dual households only a couple of years ago when I wanted to get off the corporate merry-go-round for a simpler and more balanced life. Now I still adore city life and participate almost as frequently, but I do it from a distance. I either stay over with a friend or check in a cheap hotel if I've overindulged, but mostly I listen to great music and love the fact that in southern Ohio the city is so close to the country and vice versa.
My friends Mary and Jerry moved from the suburbs of Montgomery this week to Over-the-Rhine in a reverse move from mine to simplify their lives, which I guess conjured up tons of my own city memories. Stephan and I went down Tuesday night with a bottle of wine and oatmeal cookies to congratulate them on their move. They chose a fifth-floor loft just off Main Street that's filled with history and industrialized charm. I recall the building being on the Downtown Tour of Living this fall and I loved it now as much as then.
We sat down among the boxes and imagined how everything would come together in the expansive loft space. Jerry is excited about the less-is-more idea of decorating a loft as opposed to the three-floor townhouse they had in Montgomery. This is the third time he's lived in Over-the-Rhine, and he's glad to be back. His men's morning group meets downtown and he'll have a reverse commute for work. Mary is starting a new job downtown, so they're going to get rid of their second car, saving a ton of money in addition to the cheaper rent.
Realizing all of us were starving, we headed around the corner for a bite at Kaldi's. Jerry and Stephan got on the subject of San Diego and California living, as both have spent years there. Mary and I joined arms and lagged behind as we had a chuckle about the crazy times we had at my Walnut Hills apartment before she met Jerry on the Internet. The guys made us fess up about our laughter.
I shared a little antidote about Mary putting her bra in a doggie bag one night at Palomino's. I spared them both the details — you can only understand, I suppose, if you were there. Besides, aren't we ready to order?
A Question of Semantics
Last weekend was unusually busy. I had a party to go to, an art opening and, most importantly, my sister's wedding.
I opted out of being a bridesmaid since I was in her first wedding and wanted to steer clear of the drama that surrounds her. For instance, one of the groomsmen was possibly going to jail during their wedding, so they had to rearrange their wedding party lineup. Needless to say, I decided to have a mellow time this weekend.
First on the agenda was a fish fry at St. Frances in Walnut Hills. I normally go out to dinner with the family once a week, so we decided to try something different. We're not religious per se, but we saw an article in The Enquirer about local fish fries and this particular one got high marks.
For some reason — maybe I was thinking "grill out" — I thought the fish fry would be outside. After about 15-20 minutes of waiting, we seated ourselves at one of several long tables in what appeared to be an auditorium. Children were playing on a stage and running back and forth beside us. It was difficult to hear the people in front of you.
The fish dinners were delivered on foam plates with mac and cheese and coleslaw. I was expecting something you'd get from a fast-food seafood chain. This looked like it had been robbed of its outer shell of batter-fried goodness.
An older married couple sitting beside us warned about the bones in the fish. Since I don't like my food to kill me, I let the fish be. Especially after the gentleman explained how he could get in real trouble with his diverticulitis. I wasn't exactly sure what that was, but I was pretty certain I didn't need more explanation.
Eating at the church wasn't humbling exactly, as I didn't feel above it all. But it actually made me feel more human. And you couldn't help it with children, teens and adults all sharing in a meal for the same price. Many people were from different backgrounds and different races. I had a strange feeling of fullness, even though I ate hardly anything at all.
One member of my family spoke the words that wouldn't come to me. "I know this sounds silly," he said, "but I feel Catholic."
The next day I was a material girl again and earned myself a shopping spree. First stop was Urban Outfitters in Clifton. One thing I've noticed about clothing stores is sometimes the people who are there to help you, are a little bitter about it. At UO, a young man got his panties in a bunch when I asked to leave a few items at the counter instead of hauling them all around the store with me. Hello, I'm buying things from your store.
Then at Target I overheard a girl working the dressing room talking on her cell phone to a friend. "Girl, you know I'm a slacker."
Nice. We could already tell by the cell phone, Miss Obvious. That Catholic feeling had pretty much worn off at this point.
I ran into my friend Sarah at the checkout. She was with her mother, shopping for a friend's baby shower. Ah, the dreaded baby shower. They should make showers for single people who can't afford to feed themselves, much less another human being. But getting registered at a Target is a brilliant idea. You don't force your friends to go broke getting gifts.
"How was your shopping experience?" Sarah asked as we were leaving.
"Good," I said. "Except for realizing I'm not the same size I once was."
And by that I mean at Urban Outfitters I was one size and at Target another. Depending on what store you're shopping at, you can be a nymphlike maiden or a seam-bursting heifer.
Later that night, I wore my new pants to an opening at Semantics art gallery. Since I'd moved, their announcements have arrived post-show causing me to miss a few. But I made it before the curtains closed Saturday night.
As I was driving, my mouth grew dry and I was in dire need of water. But I didn't want to stop since the gallery was open for only 20 more minutes. As soon as I walked into the gallery, a co-worker recognized me. She was out carousing for her birthday and this was her first stop of the night. I briefly wished her happy birthday and moved on, hoping they had beverages.
Midway between the front and back room, I spotted gallery owner David Dillon.
"Glad you made it," he said. I felt a little guilty. The few times I've made it to his gallery, he's not been there. So I felt I'd been unintentionally rude.
David offered me a beer, and I practically wanted to knight him for it. He was huddled by friends, so I walked around the rooms to check out the art.
The show's theme was Processes, and I was unable to get the concept. I asked David to explain, and he told me there was a sheet hanging on the wall that explained the show. I toddled over to read the sheet, but as I was reading the door kept opening, making me roadkill for whoever was coming in or leaving. I decided I'd have to get an explanation from my co-worker on Monday.
After watching a couple of artists' videos and soaking up the art, I decided things were over my head and it was time to get back to my level with some music.
The Tigerlilies were playing at Northside Tavern, so I scuttled over there. Before the show started, I was hanging out with bassist Brian, who had a dancing Coke can with him and was humorously testing it out on one of the amps. My cousin Joe, seated nearby, came over to join us. As we talked, Brian periodically replaced the dancing can that kept threatening to fall off of the amp.
Joe caught me up on his tumultuous love life. A year ago, he'd moved out to Seattle with a girlfriend, and things got sour. The girlfriend broke her foot and couldn't work, so he literally had to support her. He bathed her and helped her get around until her foot healed. When he came back home to visit his family at one point and returned, the girl told him he was no longer welcome. So he moved back to Cincy, got over it for the most part and met another girl. Now the ex is calling again and wants to get back together.
"I can't tell guys my problems because they go, 'Oh, poor you. Two girls to choose from,' " he confided. "And I can't tell girls because they'll think I'm a player."
Clearly there was only one solution to his problem, but I fell into the category of "female."
"You know, there are people you can pay to talk to who'd be glad to help," I said.
I didn't mean it as an insult. But it helped to change the subject. We moved to a back table so we could talk as the band started to play.
"I want to hear the band, not feel them," he said, which made me laugh.
Some friends of his arrived, and he left to show them around the bar. I was happy alone at my two-person table until the crowd started to grow around me. My friend Mica walked in, and I begged him to hold my seat while I went to the ladies room. He reluctantly caved. When I came back, I relieved him of his duties and then promptly left the table.
"Now you're leaving?" he said. "I can't do anything right."
I wasn't sure how my inability to make up my mind was his fault. But I left for the patio rather than argue. A fire was going in the little patio stove, which was welcome as the temperature had dropped 35 degrees in a week. As I was listening to my cousin and his friends talk and starting to feel lonely, out came an ex-boyfriend, Zac.
He and I reminisced a bit, which was less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be. I was starting to get tired and decided to leave but didn't want to walk through the mass of people in the bar. With help from Joe and his burly friend, I jumped the patio fence and was on my way home. But not before a quick trip to White Castle.
There are often many hurdles on the path to healthy living. Not that I've tried to jump any of them.
I woke up Saturday morning at 7 to news reports on NPR about the American troops' forays into downtown Baghdad. That wasn't quite the way I wanted to start my day.
After a quick stop at Sugar n' Spice for breakfast, which included sitting next to someone who was having a very deep conversation with himself, I headed to my very secret place to buy tickets for Lollapalooza at Riverbend.
After waiting in line by myself for an hour, I was able to score two fourth-row tickets to my one-and-only big summer concert of the season. July 16 can't come too soon for me now.
My next task for the day was to try to register people to vote for the upcoming May 16 school bond issue in the English Woods housing project. This was my first time going to projects of any sort since I was a kid on summer vacation in Little Rock back when I was in high school.
I quickly realized that we probably should have started a little later in the day. It seems that people don't like being wakened at 11 a.m. on a Saturday to sign papers of any kind. I think most of them thought I was either a social service agent or a cop.
In an hour and a half I was able to get just three signatures. I did have one very nice young mother of two let me into her house while she filled out the forms. She felt sorry that I was out freezing my butt off. I even got to watch a few minutes of Yu-Gi-Oh with her kids.
I did make an ass out of myself that morning. When a young woman opened up the door of one of the apartments, I asked, "Are your parents at home?"
She looked at me with a bit of disgust and said, "I am the parent."
After putting my foot in my mouth, I should have just quietly walked away. But instead I put my other foot in my mouth by asking her, "Are you over 18?"
I still can't believe she filled out the voter registration form.
After that little fiasco, it was nearly 1 p.m. and I was hungry again. I went home and called Shannon to tell her I was able to get tickets for us to Lollapalooza and ask if she wanted to go to brunch.
Thirty minutes later, we were driving down Vine Street to go to Tucker's. It was the first time either of us had been to Tucker's since the murder that happened right out in front of the restaurant a couple of Saturdays ago.
As soon as Shannon parked and I opened up my car door, a guy walked right up to me and mumbled a single syllable that I could not understand.
I asked him what he said, and he replied in a near whisper, "Weed?"
It was the middle of the afternoon on a busy intersection in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Cincinnati, and this guy was trying to sell me weed! If Shannon hadn't been there I probably would have went off on the guy, using the speech Jules used in Pulp Fiction before he shot the preppy guy in the apartment. Instead I just stared at him for a moment before walking past him.
After taking a long nap after brunch, I decided to go to the group art opening at Semantics. I guess the theme of the exhibit dealt with the process of creating art. There were video presentations, paintings and photographs. There was a wall of nude photographs of a Wendy U., a girl I had a huge crush on a few years ago. We were supposed to go out, but I blew her off to go out with another girl. Looking at the photographs I realized that I made a huge mistake.
The most thought provoking part of the show was a performance piece by Dave Rohs. He had a circular saw on top of a platform that he built. There was a small video camera that was focused on the saw blade, and the images from the camera were projected on the wall behind him. He would place a toy soldier on the table and push it through with a block of wood, cutting the toy soldier in half, which would then shot out across the room. There were hundreds of decapitated soldiers strewn about.
It was the best piece of performance art I've ever seen in my life. Whether or not you agreed with his point of view about war, it sure as hell made you stop and contemplate your position.
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