NEW YORK, WEEKS BEFORE THE LIGHTS WENT OUT
6:00AM: wake to high-pitch beeps of trucks traveling in reverse. You know this noise as a Manhattan noise. Your watch and the hotel clock, both on the bedside table, say 3AM and 6AM respectively. Either way, you need more sleep.
6:02: drift back noticing that the hotel has one of those fancy CD Player/Alarm Clock clocks. Wish you'd brought a CD. Think how you would have opened your eyes to the first beats of Counting Crow's "American Girls."
8:25: a good day in the city begins like this: a brisk walk through Central Park drinking a large (non-nonfat) latte with double foam.
8:30: decide you've watched too much Law & Order in your lifetime. Instead of marveling at flowers, plants, or trees, you notice the number of places one could stash a dead body.
8:36: a tall, dark, attractive man waves to you sister, calls out to her, and realizes as he approaches that she is not someone named Felicia.
10:20: talk to your man on the phone. Even though you've been gone less then a day, wait for him to say he misses you. Reading your mind he says, Hey Shorty, did you go somewhere?
10:50: the silver tiled shower has no door. Water shoots straight down from the ceiling. Tell your sister how your friend Lydia stayed at this same hotel, how the funky shower traumatized her. She had to get drunk before she'd wash her hair. Your sister wants to know, Isn't Lydia the one who gets drunk pretty much before she does everything?
11: feel guilty for showering as late as 11. Comfort yourself with the fact that it is only 8 in Los Angeles.
11:15: lather, shave, loofa, shampoo, rinse, repeat, condition. Dry, moisturize, robe, comb, gel, blow, straighten. Line, shadow, lift, curl, separate, coat. Blush and blend. Line and gloss. Dress. Brush and spritz. Clearly, you've broken your New Year's resolution to be more wash-n-go.
12:25PM: check e-mail. Make quick responses to important and semi-important questions. In the quick responses, apologize for your quick response.
12:35: search the room for the key. Your sister runs off to her meeting. Catch your reflection in the mirror above the dresser/desk. Decide to rebrush and respritz. Add more gloss.
12:51: decide that the driver doesn't give a shit.
12:52: recall that the kiss story wasn't so impressive. You were at Harry's Bar with friends. One of them saw Ronnie, told him it was your birthday, urged him over to say hello. He leaned down, said something like Happy Birthday Little One. He probably meant to kiss you on the cheek, but you were startled and turned your head too fast. His lips hit yours and there it was, a little lip-to-lip smooch.
12:53: remember when your friend Eric told the story, and said Ronnie called you Little Darling. You're sure you would have remembered darling, but maybe it's a better story that way. Decide darling is one of those words that works only with an accent. Determine that Little Darling would have sounded condescending, cocky, or rude from any other man in the room.
1:13: Megan arrives, making you the winner. Notice the man who shows you to your table has an uncanny resemblance to Pete Yorn. Ask the others if they know that Pete Yorn went to Syracuse. Megan laughs, I didn't hook up with him, did I?
1:15: you're all talking at the same time, laughing so hard your cheeks hurt.
1:20: I want you to know, Carol says to you, that I never slept with Fisk. The waiter stands frozen behind her. Fisk was a guy you pined for in college, one it took you a long time to get over, although you did, like ten years ago. Carol, you say, oh my God. It's okay. I never thought you slept with him anyway.
1:21: it hits you. Wait a minute, you say. If Carol's insisting ten years later that she didn't sleep with Fisk, that must mean the rest of you did! You sluts, you yell. You all laugh so hard you have to hug your ribs, wipe your eyes. The waiter looks like he has been stuck. All of you, except the waiter, try to contain your laughter, which only makes you laugh harder. You little tarts, you say to them, you hussy whores!
1:25: select the penne.
1:30: Fisk gets his just desserts. You toast him. Alexa says, He sucked in the sack. Megan looks to the ceiling, says, Thank God I was completely wasted. You confess that you could have had more fun with a cotton swab. Poor Fisk, Carol says. Then she adds, I guess I'm glad I found him slightly unattractive.
1:45: laughing chickas drink wine and carbo-load.
1:50: Alexa asks after Lydia and other college friends in L.A. Carol keeps saying, Oh, she or he should be in New York. It's so crazy in L.A.
1:54: start to defend L.A., a reflex, but decide ultimately you like your people a little crazy.
2:05: consider stopping into Guggenheim SoHo before you meet up with your sister, until Megan tells you, since your last visit to the city, the museum has become Prada. Alexa expresses her concern over the Prada-ization of America.
2:10: make plans to meet Carol and her friend Felicia at the Whitney tomorrow. The last time you were in New York and went to the Whitney with Carol, she hurried home after to work on a poem about sports cars made from pony hair.
2:11: Alexa begs you to go to the Frick instead. She hates the Whitney, all those ghastly installations. Her friend Felicia is writing a dissertation on the unprecedented lameness of the Whitney.
2:12: ask if you heard correctly -- Felicia? Is everyone north of Houston named Felicia? Think of Going Down, in which every girl at NYU is named Jennifer. Predict that this name thing, like all the New York apartment jokes, is going to get way too much play.
2:15: Megan says you sound like a bunch of uptown hags, Oh, the Frick, she coos, Oh, the Whitney. Alexa goes to the bathroom and everyone wants to know what's so bad about installations anyway.
4:49: arrive at the boutique, which is even cooler than you imagined. Tell your sister you can't go nuts. You're only buying one thing. You've got a budget, plus one of your New Years' resolutions was to stop being such a retail slut.
5:13: the walls of the dressing room are made from stalks of bamboo. Nature's most replenishable resource, you think to yourself. Purchase pants, jeans, a sweater, and two shirts that definitely trump resolutions.
2:30: you will not remember this in the morning: Put down your Belini-tini and go to the center of the crowd and do a jolty little dance where you slap your own ass.
3:15: you will not remember this in the morning: In the cab, say Bellini-tini exactly fifty-seven times in an effort to prove to your sister that you are not drunk.
3:20: use her cell phone to call your man and tell him that you can say Bellini-tini fifty-seven times and you are therefore practically sober. Discuss with the cab driver your favorite episode of Law & Order.
3:28: you vaguely remember this later: a conversation about how bright the city seems. You love New York. Even in Los Angeles, in the glimmer of Hollywood, it never seems so bright at night.
6:00: try humming to yourself -- American Girls are leather and noise -- then stop when it fails to sooth and only makes the pounding worse.
6:01: revise a previous thought in accordance with your hangover: You are more of a mineral water/Counting Crows kind of girl.
6:02: the jackhammer inside your head does not ruin your ability to revise. You will need a big greasy cheeseburger for breakfast. Scissors cut paper, grease cuts alcohol. So actually you are a mineral water/cheeseburger-for-breakfast/Counting Crows kind of girl.