“Here, take my glass,” Andy said loudly, over the throb of the party. We were in his kitchen, surrounded by used plastic cups, Little Mermaid paper plates covered with half-eaten food, and hordes of his friends. Like many of Andy’s parties, the male-female ratio was roughly two to one: a happy mixture for Kristine, Minta and me, a disappointing one for Andy and his buddies.
I washed the glass out. “Where’s Ferret Girl? I have some socio-political issues to discuss with her.”
“Not here.” He smiled at a girl who was methodically eating tortilla chips, spilling salsa on the floor with each bite. “I didn’t invite her. I had, uh, other fish to fry. If you know what I mean.”
Now I remembered the frantic phone call from Kristine, his roommate, just last night. “I have to get out of the house,” she was hissing. “I can’t take it any more. Andy’s brought someone home, they’ve been at it all night. Can I come over?”
“What time is it?”
“Please,” she said. “She’s a screamer. Not only that, his bedroom window’s open, and the airshaft is throwing her voice around the neighborhood, better than Edgar and Charlie McCarthy. And…” she lowered her voice even further, “she’s into being spanked. I can’t sleep with all this racket.”
I turned to Andy and gave him a look. “I heard about last night, if that’s what you mean. According to Kristine, I’d gather there’s no one in a 50-block radius that didn’t.” He leaned against the sink and smiled, scratching his shaved head self-consciously.
“Well?” I prodded. The kitchen was sufficiently crowded that there was little chance we’d be heard. People were shouting over the dance music in the living room. I lowered my voice. “So your reign as The Celibate King is over. How does it feel?”
“Good. I mean, she’s not The One, but it was fun.”
“What’s wrong with this one, Mr. Choosy?” Kristine, with bags under her eyes, joined us by the sink.
“Well,” Andy looked doubtful. “Now, tell me what you think of this. There we were last night, doing all our gymnastics –”
“With sound effects,” Kristine said.
“Yeah, well, sorry about that. So there we were, and as I’m sure you heard, she’s kinda into being spanked. I’m like, okay, whatever turns you on. She’s on her hands and knees, and I’m going at it, and all of a sudden I start looking at her nails. I don’t know why. She’s got those long, white tips on her nails, and they’re really long. So I ask her, I can’t help myself, ‘Are those real?’ And she kinda looks at me from behind, and sits up. ‘So what if they’re not? A lot of girls do it. I like ‘em. I guess you don’t.’
“And I say, ‘Honey, whatever. They’re just so long.’ She looks at me kind of funny. ‘And it must cost a lot, all those trips to the shop,’ I say. Anyway she just kind of ignores me, and we continue. But now, this time, I can’t stop looking at her hair.”
“What’s with her hair?” I sigh.
“It’s really bleached. I mean, not all bleached, but kind of frosted. So I’m looking at those nails, and that frosted, teased hair, and just can’t stop thinking, My God, I’m sleeping with a mall chick.”
“Oh, God, Andy,” Kristine interrupted. “You are so judgmental. And you just met the girl that night.”
“So? I’ve met plenty of nice women and slept with them that night. She just didn’t happen to be one of them.”
“It’s always something with you guys. Whatever happened to holding off until you get to know her?”
“Oh, to hell with that. It was fun, I tell you! I just wish I could have turned off that little voice in my head.” He shuddered. “Those nails! Why do you girls do such things?” Kristine and I looked at our unmanicured hands and shrugged.
There was a pause. We scanned the groups of men and women near us, all in black garb. In each clump a woman was telling a story, gesturing, eyed by silent guys sneaking furtive glances at her body.
“She didn’t seem to really mind when I lost my, uh….you know, ” Andy said.
“I’ll just bet she didn’t,” I said.
“No, really. Hey, I’m a generous lover in other ways. Seemed like everything was fine. But it turned out we had something of an, uh, misunderstanding. About what I said about her nails, I mean. Because in the morning, as I was walking her to her car, she stops in the middle of the sidewalk. She lifts up her sunglasses and says, ‘Listen, big boy, it only takes one operation, just so you know. We don’t go to the boob doctor every week.’”
A burst of laughter suddenly emanated from one of the black T-shirted gangs. We watched as Andy moved away, asking a lone woman nearby, “Hey, do you need a glass?”