“Boy you better act like you understand
When you roll with pussy control
(Are you ready?)
– Prince, “Pussy Control”
Friday night, 9:56 p.m. She can barely hear the third verse of Jordan’s favorite ACDC song from her perch on the toilet. Nina has one leg up on the sink, her dark, enormous breast set tight against her thigh while her bejeweled hands massage her calf. She watches Nina quietly. She feels a wave of self-consciousness and tries to force the pee to move faster.
“Damn girl, you been spiking those Cokes tonight?” Nina asks her, and she smiles shyly.
The refrain is over. She stands up, moving over as Nina jumps on the toilet before she can flush. She pulls up her slip and checks for camel toe. She doesn’t bother washing her hands; they will be dirty soon anyway. The song is ending, and Mike is announcing her on top. She walks twenty steps, past the rows of makeup bags and dimly lit mirrors, past the coat rack, the refrigerator, the line of fruit slices and sandwiches. She pours a few inches of champagne in a plastic cup and downs it.
Breathe. She walks straight past the rows of new clothes toward the DJ booth. “How you doing, girl?” Mike asks, and she smiles quietly. On the first stair, she holds the wall with one hand and tries to look steady. First the ball of the foot, then the six-inch heel, ball down, heel down, keeping the beat. She reminds herself to look up and rolls her shoulders back, then she shakes her head and puts on her best smirk. She lays a silver purse on the second step. Come on, Babygirl, let’s rob these assholes.
“I was blessed with the body of the goddesses
Have you any idea how hard this is?
I can flex in 25 positions
But I only work here to pay my tuition”
– Wyclef Jean, “Perfect Gentleman”
At least that’s how Tuelle said it would be. Tuelle took one look at me and said I would be fine, ends were going to start meeting. “As long as you don’t do anything stupid,” she said. She was sitting at a white vanity counter in the dressing room somewhere in Chicago, a thick red textbook open in place of a makeup bag. I imagine she a diet Sprite with some fruit liqueur in it sitting there too, and she probably ordered me one. She liked to have a drink on Friday nights to celebrate surviving the week. Her stage name came from “2L”, that was her way of thumbing her nose at all the people who said she would get caught up in the money and never make it. But of course, Mike spelled it “Tuelle”, which everyone thought looked kind of ethnic. I hear some Northwestern chic uses the name now.
Tuelle was the most beautiful person I ever saw. For the last half year, she had been wearing the same black Lycra tube dress every weekend, a simple thing that stretched from the base of her cleavage to the center of her behind. She told me I should go to Victoria’s Secret, pick a slip in a nice color, and stick to it. “Men get confused when you change your clothes too much,” she said. Every night at 9, she would brush her eyelashes with mascara, her skin with bronzer, and her lips with gloss, then she would start goading me to hurry up and get order dinner. “If you’re not beautiful after ten minutes with your makeup, you’re never going to be,” she would say. She was always reading and never bothered looking at clothes or having her nails done. She spoke Italian, or maybe it was German, or Japanese. It doesn’t matter really.
Tuelle was a classic beauty, not the kind you see on TV. She was unique in the sense of pale ivory or deep charcoal skin, thick blue-black or very long chestnut hair, an extra thin waist and wide hips. Tuelle had natural breasts, a respectable 34-C, and sometimes she wore glasses.
I know she lived in Ann Arbor, but other than that I’m not sure where she came from, or how she ended up there in the first place. Her real name was Lis, which was short for Elisabeth, or Lisa, Elisa, or something else entirely. It’s none of your business, really.
“You ain’t as green as you are young”
– John Cougar Mellancamp, “Hurt So Good”
11:03 p.m. “Der neer…da na”. She stands in the center platform stage, rolls her hips in a wide oval, and lets her hands drift over her thighs. She tips her head forward and smoothes her fingers from her neck to the top of her scalp, grabbing her long hair in the motion. She holds it there until “Lord knows there are things we can do,” when she bends at the knees and throws her arms up, letting her hair fall in that clich