[Originally written on this date in 2005]
Coming back from the post office the other afternoon, I saw someone walking up the street and we made eye contact – for a moment something clicked in my memory. Somewhere in the depths of my mind, his face registered and connected with a name. The possibility that out of all the streets in all the towns in all of New fucking Jersey, he had moved onto mine was dismissed as I laughed a little.
No way, it wasn’t him.
Earlier in the day I had been thinking about how people often came into my life only to drift out of it again, wondering what ever happens to those that left a lasting impression. For whatever reason, he had been one of those individuals, and the brief time we spent as friends was one of the highlights of attending cosmetology school.
While searching for my debit card I see someone standing outside, possibly trying to figure out if they should knock or ring the bell. Relieving him of that decision, he introduces himself as the new neighbor and we shake hands. Seeing his face up close stirs memories; I knew it was him when I had passed him on the street and looked down at the tattoos on his fingers. All suspicions were confirmed when he said his name and yet the pessimistic part of me still refused to believe it was him.
During our casual conversation, he mentions the cosmetology school and that was when I smiled. “You fucker, we went to the same school,” I said, laughing.
His eyes studied me for a moment before lighting up with recognition. Next thing I know his arms are around me and we are both smiling.
Shane is definitely one of those people I never thought I would see again, so it was kind of funny that he had recently moved to the area. Much like myself, he was going crazy over the lack of rude, crude, tattoo’d trash. It was wonderful to have come across a kindred spirit, especially one I figured had just been lost like so many others. With my partner in crime being absent at the moment, I could really use a cool cat to hang with every now and then. Though the whole encounter felt weird, I still had a huge smile on my face when he said good-bye.
A couple of days later, my performing partner’s brother decided to have one last farewell house party before leaving for a job in Arizona next month, and since there would be a few dozen people attending, it was mutually agreed that Electric Sideshow should make an appearance.
Got myself all dolled up for the occasion, putting up the ‘hawk and gluing a bunch of rhinestones to my face for some extra sparkle. Invited Shane to come join in the festivities and then hit up the store for provisions, such as snack foods for the masses and a bottle of whiskey. The promise of not drinking for a while would be broken that evening, but I vowed to limit myself due to wanting to put on a good show.
When we returned there were cheers from the hungry guests who already arrived and the grill was fired up. One of my partner’s friends came into the back at the right moment with a friend of hers, and we all toasted to an evening of fun with cups full of whiskey and Coke. Dined on seared animal flesh and engaged in some interesting conversation, where I learned some things about certain sideshow performers that I probably really didn’t need to know. At some point I wound up trading a shoe with that guy on account he had a sweet pair of New Rock boots with flames, and insisted I try one out. Walking with two different shoes while drunk was certainly entertaining for the both of us.
Now I am not usually one to be very social with a bunch of people I don’t really know, but the alcohol in my system changed that very quickly. They laughed at my jokes while complimenting my hair or makeup and I could not stop smiling as I thought about how easily Jon would have robbed them blind. Having a good time apparently did not come without the cost of missing my love, especially since I had not received a letter from him in weeks.
My partner’s brother kicked off the evening’s festivities by shooting potatoes, then changed into a kilt and sleeveless military jacket. Out of nowhere all these bottle rockets and fireworks are flying and popping in the air. Half of the neighbors were in the backyard drinking alongside the guests, so no one was worried about the police being called.
Then it was showtime, gathering the drunkards on the deck as we revealed our props. For once pitching the acts came easily, but that is likely due to be slightly shitfaced. As I launched into the spiel for the Human Drinking Straw, I was worried that all the liquid and food in my stomach would prevent me from performing it well. However, I remained calm and was able to slide the tube through my face without gagging once. The coating of saliva on it as it was pulled out made a few people wretch, and I moved right to the Condom Floss which grossed them out further. From there the acts flowed seamlessly, one right into the next where all eyes were on our actions as the audience hung on every word. They were in awe of my Pierced Weightlifting, cheered for the Bed of Nails and exploded with applause as I pulled out the container of broken glass.
As the colorful shards are pouring out onto the tarp, I look up to see Shane and feel relieved that he did not miss the whole show. For him I go old school, getting down on my knees to ‘wash’ my face in the glass, rubbing it in so much I know there are tiny pieces all over my cheeks. Diving hands first into the pile, the shattered glass is spilled from my palms over and over to create a racket that ensures the audience this glass is real. My shoes are tossed aside and I get right to it, pounding my feet to the rhythmic clapping accompanying whatever song happened to be playing at that moment. The only sound I hear is the glass as it groans under my weight when I jump on it; there is silence that is followed by applause but I am not finished yet. Jumping as high as my legs can take me, I call out for a step ladder and moments later it is positioned in front of the pile. All eyes are on me now, but I only see his as I dive feet first off the top step.
Hauling the glass-filled tarp back into it’s container, everyone was coming over to offer congratulations on the show, with most favoring my acts. Shane was there passing out business cards as he told them they should check out or website and book us for their parties. Not even sure of how he had gotten a hold of them, but I definitely appreciated his willingness to promote.
In my inebriated state, I wind up occupying much of his time. Shane apologized for missing my call earlier and cited having fallen asleep due to taking a Valium. We chilled on the deck for a while just shooting the shit and catching up on what each other had been doing since school. He knew I had been pursuing sideshow but was kind of surprised at the quality of the acts I could offer. That opened up conversation about Outlaw Cirkus, including how I lost most of my Family, and Jon certainly was mentioned several times. He was a gentleman and expressed concern about my other half getting jealous, but I assured him not to worry. Admittedly I was not shy about physical contact, though we had both been doing it to each other all night in what seemed like a friendly manner.
Then Shane hits me with two straight compliments: “You have a nice rack, and don’t take this wrong way, but you’re good-looking so I might want to try something.”
Color me flattered, I thanked him for what he said while trying not to blush though I probably failed. It could have been the Valium talking, so I did not want to read that much into what he said. We go inside [I kept myself in charge of giving him soda when he requested it] where he asks me about sword swallowing and why I wasn’t doing that. The fact he remembered it was one of the things I learned at sideshow school was pretty impressive, and after offering a brief explanation, he wants to know what it feels like.
By then I have consumed a lot of alcohol, to the point where it has been the only liquid inside my cup for the past hour or so. There was something about the way he kept looking at me that brought out a certain confidence and encouraged flirtatious behavior. So I did all I could to describe the sensation of a solid object sliding down the throat when he says, “Stop, you’re turning me on.”
He takes my hand and leads me out front, away from the party and prying eyes where we are standing so close I can see each detail of the tattoos on his face and neck. Distracted, I am surprised by the kiss but immediately find myself lost in it as we grope each other in the darkness.
Thanking him for coming, I prepare myself for the inevitable awkward parting of ways when he says there is a favor he wants to ask. We are in my car driving to the beach in the middle of the night before hundreds congregated there for the holiday weekend. The scene feels so familiar but I am too happy to notice and instead focus on the signs so I know which exit to take. On the sand we smoke a joint and he offers me one of his pills. Satiny grains float through my head as we make out under the boardwalk, pausing to smoke a joint and hold hands while strolling in the surf and counting stars.
Hours later the sun is starting to rise, deep pink washing over the sky and fading into purple clouds as we gazed at the greenish blue ocean. We had breakfast in the form of pizza at one of the few places on the boards that was open at such an early hour and then headed back to my car. Shane still had that look on his face coupled with a smile, kissing me once more before I dropped him off at his place.