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Friday, August 05, 2011

Searching for Ringside 

Picture credit to the kickass folks at Carpe Durham

The Clarion Content is delighted to introduce to you, dear readers, a new series by our culture columnist, Cady Childs, "Searching for Ringside." It is a fictional tale that follows the lives of four hip Durhamanians as they crisscross the Bull City, slipping in and out of its familiar haunts. The metamythical characters, Andrew, Vita, John and Megan, and their sordid but bemusing stories will resonate with those of you who carouse in Durham. We have been around and about and seen you out. Without further adieu, let Cady introduce to you the cast of "Searching for Ringside."


Chapter I, "Introductions"

Typical southern July day- sticky, sticky hot, air so dense it made your eyes feel the way they do when they’re opened underwater too long, exposed to too much outside moisture. A baby skyline vies for attention toward the center of town, surrounded by old, impressive, stately architecture stretched between new parking decks, a minor league baseball stadium, and widened sidewalks. Bright boys in dark corners smirk at girls in strapless dresses walking the streets, their v-neck tees and tapered jeans wincing with them at the ladies lack of interest, and the cross-body purses bouncing back and forth on their hips, swaying in amusement and mockery of their bruised egos. Horn rimmed glasses squinted out at the newest and hottest bands, judging and listening with refined ears and money hungry eyes. Business professional loafers and pumps stampeded the streets from noon to one, one hour to reach one of four lunch spots, each pair patting itself on the back for grabbing a daily bite in the place nationally syndicated publications had just called ‘an undiscovered treasure.’ In the past five years, this little metropolis had gone from quaint and quirky to nuevo cool, big names writing about its amazing style, music, food, and uniqueness, good enough to rival any West Village corner.

Andrew is outside, drinking a steaming French press on the street tables at the café, alone in one hundred degree heat (he likes to make a point). He was too tall and lanky, but with big lips and light eyes, causing all the girls to peer over his shoulder to try and read what he was writing in the little black weathered notebook in his hands whenever they walked by (don’t tell anyone we told you this, but when he first bought the notebook, he got wine drunk and hit the leather cover with the empty bottle over and over, until it looked like his grandfather had given it to him, a family heirloom to train the best poets of their time, ensuring the girls who walked by him would see the cover and assume he was an undiscovered literary god. He assured himself it was really quite brilliant). He sat, contemplating life, and puffed on a Lucky Strike. A little boy crouching in front of the Mediterranean restaurant a few storefronts down stuck his tongue out at Andrew, who had waved his hand in front of his face to fan the smoke away from his pudgy, rosy visage. Andrew stuck his tongue back out at him, and tugged his white and navy striped v-neck tee down while he stood up, leaving his old cigarette butts in a neat little star-shape for the waitress to clean up instead of throwing them in the trash like a normal person would have. He thought she’d appreciate the irony of it.

Vita sat in the city’s hottest lunch spot, cruising the daily Gilt Groupe sales and making sure to take the daintiest sips possible of the chilled melon soup in front of her, a perfect contrast to the 90s punk inspired Leather+Pyramid Noir bracelet looped around her left wrist. She really just wanted to go home, get stoned and watch ‘Charmed’, but she had to make an appearance in at least one ‘place to be’ a day (and night, if it was Thursday, Friday, or Saturday) to maintain her air of unintentional elegance. Plus, there was a certain twenty-five to thirty something that kept coming in here on Wednesdays, and this happened to be a Wednesday, and she wanted him to notice her in the window, alone, in a very pretty pair of silk shorts and acid wash racerback tank, and think to himself, “That’s it. That’s what I’ve been anxious about all day- asking this girl out.” She pulled out a little lavender, hardcover journal, and unwrapped the wide white satin ribbon she tied around it to keep the magazine clippings neatly tucked away inside. Vita drank down her iced coffee, the last bit all water and vanilla syrup, and stood up for another refill, glancing out the window before ducking to the bar to make sure she didn’t miss the opportunity for him to see her framed in the glass.

John slid his tortoise shell ray-ban wayfarers over his nose, squinted at his phone while he looked through last night’s outgoing calls, and wondered who Eliza was, and why he called her for forty-five seconds at 1:47 A.M. Coffee. He needed Coffee. It was mid-morning, but it felt like dawn to his poor, dehydrated eyes. He walked out of his downtown apartment, an old converted factory made into hip, almost-like-you’re-in-Brooklyn, $1100 a month one bedrooms with lofted ceilings and walls so thin you could hear your neighbor’s every move. But it was a cool place, and he had even covered one wall in his bathroom with chalkboard paint. He liked to write really artsy, depressing quotes on it in big, scrawled cursive when he knew he was having company, so they could see his damaged soul. It was all very expressive. He grabbed that day’s New York Times out of his mailbox on his way out- he read it every morning, cover to cover. The whole process took about forty-five minutes, but he knew it made him look and sound a lot smarter than he actually was. With the paper under his arm, John turned on the new Arcade Fire album on his iPhone, it’s imitation bamboo case sticking to his fingertips in the velvet thick summer air. He stuck in his earbuds, and strutted down Main St., headed for the coffee & sandwich place in the center of town, checking out his daily twitter feed as he went.

Megan looked in the reflection of her review mirror- it was too early in the summer to be unhappy with her hair. She had the day off, and in a burst of spontaneity (not exactly a burst-she didn’t make plans, so one could say her life was a world of spontaneity, but she did squeal her tires to make a quick sharp right), headed for the top salon in town, praying they had a cancellation that day she could squeeze into. She had an assymetrical cut that looked badass three months ago, but now it was way past her shoulders and just made it look like her head was permanently cocked to one side. She lit a Marlboro Light and grabbed some scratched aviators out of her handbag as she sped down the side streets, marking her favorite shortcuts. She was from this place- she didn’t have to deal with all this new traffic in the center of town. She knew every secret turn in the county. Her head hurt. She’d spent the night before drinking whiskey with her guy friends, and they were hard to keep up with. Plus, her throat was soar from singing (screaming) along to The Naked and Famous while sketching in a small, spiral-bound red Mead notebook she kept by her bed. She could go back to her original intent of grocery shopping later (maybe), but she’d rather be hungry than bearing split ends.

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