FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: “MASKS OFF, PERSONALITIES ON”
In her new column, KAITLIN recounts the drama of finally getting her own pad, and quickly finds out that she has no lights, or buzzer. How will people get in to her housewarming party? Read on to find out.
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A working definition of information flow.
Lately at dinner, with friends who frequent Fire Island, someone will inevitably suggest we save money, skip the bottles of wine, and take GHB after. It will make me happy, like Molly sort of. No inhibitions. Pairs well with the beach. Friend friendly. You just can’t drink on it.
As my bank account dwindles, and August runs into September, this becomes more and more appealing. Last drug of the summer, I think. Finally I break and text my boyfriend, Would you mind if I take GHB tonight? And he just writes back, The…date rape drug? Which was news to me.
And this is what I want to say about safety in numbers. It is only a hypothesis.
Five years ago, Sarah Nicole Prickett and I started wearing matching bracelets that spelled out TRUST NO ONE. They were knotted, not clasped, so you couldn’t take them on and off. Beaded, they looked like we made them at summer camp. I think she paid someone to customize them on Etsy. I distinctly remember looking at my wrist a lot and reminding myself not to trust anyone.
That same year, I bought a thin nylon jacket that said TAKE ME HOME on the back. Whenever I wore it, guys told me “nice jacket.” All I have to say about being 25 is I considered that a compliment.
In July, I moved – impulsively and without a plan – to the West Village. Actually I moved to Hudson Square, if you know where that is, which I do not. I started my new life. I bought Limonatta, lemonade cold brew, every morning for $ 6. I assume it is lemons squeezed into iced coffee, but I don’t ask. It’s fizzy. I drink three a day, which, I like to remind myself, is an $18 a day habit.
My boyfriend comes over to my new apartment after I’ve already signed the lease. There’s no furniture, as I don’t own any, and anyway I want to throw a house party. I’ve not even finished my tour when he points out there are no light fixtures. Not one ceiling light. Not in the office, not in the bedroom. Very disorienting. Like can I not read a room?
He walks around opening and shutting cabinets, getting on his knees to look at radiators, flushing the toilet. He makes a list for my superintendent: valve knob for radiator, replace faucet in the kitchen, closet doors missing hardware to run on the track. He replaces the toilet seat, the shower curtain, the shower head. He tells me I need to get up the gumption to call the super. (I’m not the sort of person who calls the super.)
I ask if he wants to eat dinner on the floor of my new apartment and he says, Ah, like a stock photo.
And just like that of course I love him, I regret moving out, and I wish I could take it back. The next day I take a look at my lease and realise I have signed what, were I writing a movie, I would classify as a binding contract. It might in fact, in real life, be a binding contract, but who is to say? Not me. As we like to say at work, That’s out of scope.
Days later, an hour before my housewarming, which I’m not even sure I invited him to, I notice the buzzer doesn’t work. I call him, hysterical. I can’t reach the management company, no one will ever get inside, I can’t prop open the door in a new apartment building, my new neighbours ….
He sighs. I can hear him rummaging around at the studio. What are you going to do, I say. I’m tearing a reset button out of a dumpstered computer. I say Is it going to work? a few more times than necessary. He tells me to relax and go to the deli. Did I think to buy trash bags, ice? I go to the deli and buy these things. Shopping is how America recovered from 9/11, he says. He bikes down, removes the intercom’s face plate, solders the computer parts to contacts left behind by the cracked button, and throws a piece of electrical tape over it.
The buzzer works all night, until the party gets crashed by skaters and their hangers on. Then he disables it. I party with my friends in peace. I watch for the last hour of the party, from the floor, as he picks up all the empty bottles. I don’t get up to help.
I tell my best friend, Mankoff, how there are no lights in my new apartment. She texts back. The rule of thumb is three lights in every room. I remember at Barnard, she would make a point of always turning off the overhead light. She was the first person I met who hated overhead light.
I’ve met quite a few people since then who have a problem with it.
It occurs to me, now that I’m paying rent again, that life is so lifelike when you’re paying rent. All these little details I hadn’t noticed. This is what rich people mean when they say they don’t know the price of milk. It’s like my life was super pixelated, but I didn’t even know. Everything is crisp now. Money is suddenly paper again.
I get a drink at Clandestino with Jamian, a painter who is friends with my gay friends. I eat a hotdog, no bun. She talks very fast. Her voice is like if you threw a glass ashtray down the garbage disposal, and it choked. I guess they used to say people were throaty, I just haven’t heard that said in a while. Her voice, unlike most voices, complements her entire thing, which is being five feet tall, under 100 pounds, and talented.
Anyway, she has this bit I am particularly drawn to, where she says what every piece of clothing she wears costs. You know how you can’t wear all the expensive clothes at once? But we were mostly talking about men. You know how you have ass pimples? Everybody has ass pimples. You know how you try not to let them see your butt when you walk to the bathroom? You know how you don’t fart in bed?
Everything she says, I just want to say, I know what you mean, but I forgot until you said so.
Audrey Wollen’s mom, Leslie Dick, says one way to leave a relationship is to date a can opener. This is self-explanatory and yet I can’t define it, not exactly. The perfect turn of phrase.
Okay maybe I can define it: A can opener has one function. They take the lid off. Men call this a closer. As in the pitcher in baseball that’s trotted out in the ninth inning to win the game. (“One-inning specialists.”)
I feel like I’m writing infomercials. “For the girl ready to leave a committed relationship…”
I tell my friend Lexi I haven’t been a very good girlfriend, but he doesn’t miss a beat. It’s like Little Wayne says, I do what I do and you do what you can do about it.
I text a friend out of the blue and ask what she says in bed. I just say wow wow wow wow you’re so hot, I can’t handle it, wow wow wow your dick is so big I’m choking.
When I look at my life all I can think of is my friend who just says ding dong real low and slow whenever a joke falls flat.
Now that I’m paying like $ 30,000 of rent a year I just think Ding dong all day long. I tell this to a friend, because I think it’s funny, and she just says, God, what is this called, it is called something, like a depression stress reaction, should we google it?
Like, yes, please do google ding dong and report back immediately, you fucking ding dong.
I’ve been thinking about the time I looked across the party – it was, crucially, my party, where I had invited everyone – and pointed out a girl, an acquaintance, to the guy I had a crush on.
And I said Look at her, not so hot hmmm? … why do you think she’s here … you’ll never guess … but she’s an heiress. He didn’t laugh or call her ugly, he just wanted to know heiress of what. I wasn’t sure, I couldn’t remember. Splenda or Twizzlers, Kinkos, Franzia, one of those. He went home with her.
If I told you I was shocked.
Pedagogy! Coronavirus has returned it to its rightful place: the home.
I called a friend the next morning and he listened for a while and then just said, I see … So, let’s say you are this man. And you’re thinking to yourself, Well, tonight, we’ve got A Comedian and An Heiress. You can see both sides. Qualities abound, everyone is educated, they’re both wearing see through tops. He paused. So, you’re telling me, you wouldn’t think to yourself, There’s more than one way to be entertained.
How many anecdotes end with the same kicker.
Recently a friend of mine admitted, with much trepidation, that according to family lore, she’s related to Pocahontas. By which I mean, obviously, the man who raped Pocahontas, she said. I could tell she regretted telling me the second she told me.
I love it, I said. Wow, wow, wow, I said.
I could barely contain myself.
I hate this, she said several times. And I hate you.
But the thing is, I love this sort of thing. This is exactly the sort of thing you hear whenever you go out to dinner in New York. And it justifies going out, because you can’t just READ about something like this, not a claim as funny as this. This isn’t something you hear about in BOOKS. THIS is the sanctity of person-to-person information flow! Gossip cannot be bottled! It’s the offhand remark for me! Blah, blah, blah. I blabbered on and on.
I have purposively avoided telling you that for years, she said, and then paused.And, for the record, there are not only books on this subject, I’m fairly certain it’s an entire field of study.
But me, I’m still thinking about the dinner party in 2011 where I spat water everywhere because not one but two of my peers were claiming to be related to people who sailed on the Mayflower. Like how did they work it into conversation! I kick myself every day I missed the transition.
… What I wouldn’t give to meet their children at a college reunion and hear all about it from them. How early does one tell one’s children about daddy’s daddy’s daddy being on the Mayflower?! And what do they tell them?! How many daddy’s is it exactly? I bet you tell them very early, and I bet those kids feel very American.
Pedagogy! Coronavirus has returned it to its rightful place: the home.
Lately I feel like almost every piece of gossip – once the source of the gossip is revealed – warrants the same response. Well, it’s not like he’s a beacon of sanity.
Kaitlin Phillips is a writer and critic and lives in Manhattan. Her column “For Immediate Release” appears every third Wednesday of the month on Spike. Last time, she wrote about being “Lower Middle Class & Loving It”.