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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Searching for Ringside, Chapter II 

Picture credit to the kickass folks at Carpe Durham

The Clarion Content is delighted to invite you to come along on a magical ride as Pop Culture columnist, Cady Childs, once again takes us "Searching for Ringside." This fictional look at life in Durham traipses through familiar haunts. Cady explores the trials, travails and misadventures so many Durhamanians face. The metamythical characters, Andrew, Vita, John, and Megan, and their sordid but bemusing stories will resonate with those of you who carouse in Durham. Cady knows our collective experience, she shines a light on it and relates it back to us with a laugh and a smile.

Check out Chapter I, the Introduction, here


Chapter II, "They're baaaa-aack."

Andrew entered his daily coffee stop, looking down at his hands while he walked through the door-he had a bug bite on the web between his pointer finger and thumb, and was attempting to mentally will it to stop itching (he couldn’t scratch it-he was not one to easily give in). Not looking, he clumsily ran into the back of a small, curvy woman standing at the end of a very long line, polluted with university key chains and mother’s carrying those handbags that look like quilts. What was the line doing all the way back here?

The poor local behind the counter, the ends of her hair bright pink like they had been dipped in raspberry Kool-Aid, was being stoned by the crowd with inquiries about what café au lait is, and bombarded full force with demands about what frappucinos she had to offer, her sad little face getting more confused and red by the second. Andrew quietly ducked out the back door, barely stepping out of the way of two girls walking in high wedge sandals, who clearly hadn’t learn how to balance in them yet, sorority pledge ribbons already pinned to their ample chests with baby silver safety pins.

Oh, he’d forgotten. He’d forgotten. He’d forgotten summer was almost over. He’d forgotten about this weekend, like he did every year until it was already upon him. He seriously needed a cigarette.

Move in weekend was hell on earth for a twenty-something-girl with a shitty dye job serving brunch. Megan looked in the soap spotted mirror over the sink in the bathroom at work, willing herself to travel back twenty-four hours and warn past dimension Megan not to listen to the stylist’s idea to tint her hair ‘a few days in the sunshine lighter.’ She winced in the mirror at her Taylor Swift blonde locks, and pale skin. Not a good combination, unless you’re actually Taylor Swift and look like a fairy from Lord of The Rings. She sighed to herself, tightened her apron, and walked out into the dining room like a knight preparing to face the gauntlet.

And face it, she did. Three hours and forty some turns later, Megan stood behind a packed bar, making mimosas for a group of six that showed up with just twenty minutes left till they closed. Three guys sat in front of her, drinking champagne and talking about their lives loudly enough for everyone around them to hear just how amazing, fuckable, and sought-after they were. A blue-eyed, almost porcelain faced type, who looked like he used expensive moisturizer, and kept his legs crossed on his bar stool like a girl perched for a flirt, shouted at a high enough volume for a three-year-old girl playing with Cheerios at the table beside them to turn and coo, her eyes wide in surveillance, “I mean, I just hate that bitch. Any tall chick with a big rack and blonde hair just always looks like she wants to get fucked. Right? Am I right? She’s a joke, man.” His two buddies laughed and nodded, and one looked up to see Megan’s face, responding not only to the thought of someone letting this kid into college, but the visceral scene of the little girl staring at them like they were something on a television screen, ‘True Life: Low Self Esteem & Being A Dick’. She grabbed a paper cup and silently poured the rest of the champagne bottle into it, staring the jerk with the American Girl doll skin right back in the face, daring him to say a word as she walked toward the back of the restaurant, cup in hand.

John had exactly ten minutes to scribble something ironic on his chalkboard wall before his buddy Jack came over to pregame with some girls he had just picked up before they went out. He had frantically starting googling ‘unknown great Gatsby quotes’ while checking his hair in the mirror over his bed (yes, he had a mirror over his bed, and it was an antique with a big crack down the middle. He’d seen it in his sister’s Anthropologie catalogue and had to have it, of course, he would never admit this. He told people it was a family heirloom). He was interrupted by a new text from Jack: ‘Met some new freshies an they wanna get high. Im bringing them with.’ This gave John little to no info to work with in his preparations. Shit! He switched his search to e.e. cummings.

It would have been nice to at least know what the girls looked like, whether they were preppy or urban, if they were wearing heels (girls in heels loved it when he quoted Shakespeare, but if they were wearing little sparkly flats or something Mark Twain was a better stand-by). e.e. Cummings was the best neutral pick- he naturally turned girls on, made them feel special with his broken grammar, seemingly stuttering with awe. “You, Not Not You, Not Possible.” Damn, that was perfect. He heard his buzzer and rung them out, pulling back his curtain to see what to expect. He caught the back of one of the girls before they went in the lobby. Fuck. White cowboy boots and an Alexander Wang dress. Now he didn’t know what to do.

Vita did not, repeat, did not mean to wear a white, strapless sundress out on the week the influx of students returned. She had forgotten this was coming, and wearing the most generic looking piece she owned at such a time of excessive population was not, repeat, not, a good idea. She was a chameleon in the crowd, and two boys in bowties had already asked her what she was studying. She always responded with feminist theory when asked this by such characters, though she was not in school, it was a surefire way to insure they would leave her the hell alone for the rest of the night.

Looking across the room at her group of friends, who all had gotten started a little earlier than her, and who were all looking around at the swarms of people starting to charge the bar with the same expressions of uneasiness on their faces that she was feeling, she decided to call it an early night. Saying her goodbyes, she started to walk home (it was only a few blocks to her little converted one-bedroom), and made a last-minute, one more glass of sauvignon blanc stop at a wine bar a few store fronts away from her place. It was pretty empty, this place was far enough from the immediate campus to avoid being polluted by squealing girls and drooling boys (at least yet, anyway). She unlaced her little lavender notebook and opened it, but only so it looked like she was doing something. Sometimes she got bored pretending she wanted to be in action and surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes she just wanted to sit and listen to the quiet.

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