21:24 - Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005
I can tell how much money someone has by how willing they are to wait for a ride. I can tell by whether they answer their phones on the second ring when I call, or screen the call and carefully pick up on the fifth, adding that they're JUST finishing something up and will be right out, they SWEAR. I can tell when they call and want a ride for 6 people for five blocks away. I can tell when they stare, disbelieving, at me from the house across the street, and when it dawns on them that I'm not going to turn around and pull into their driveway, stomp huffily outside, whispering behind lacquered nails to their girlfriends.
From the car, I can usually smell them before they rap on the glass. They always get in the back, because they are used to cabs. It is a rustle and swish of suede and leather mixed with a combination of at least five splashes of perfume per girl. Their purses are handled gingerly, luckily usually small enough to fit in a palm. The girls' feet clash for space in the back, adorned as they are in enough boot-fur to clothe my kitten.
The rich ones tip much less often, even when their fistful of cash is already in their hands, ready to throw at the bartender. They always eye my cupholder warily, as if it is a ploy, as if it will trick them and steal the cash from their purses, even though more often than not the space is empty.
If you have ever seen Mean Girls (I have, and I am not ashamed to say that I think its portrait of girls' cliquieness is excellent), think of Regina George and the way she compliments other girls' clothing. When they talk to me, it sounds almost too nice, a tone of voice I would never dream of using for fear of exposing myself as being a kiss-up. If they are drunk, they ask, 'Have you gotten a lot of wasted people tonight?' in hopes that I will say yes and they will be able to whisper later that I called them wasted. If one of them is mad at one of the others, she will say to me loudly, 'Doesn't that girl look like a total slut?' and then, after I think up some kind of answer, another one will go, 'Oh my god Melina that is sooooo mean, you can't make her answer that.' all so they can say later that Melina asked the NightRide girl if Julie was a slut and the NightRide girl said YES and that is conclusive proof that Julie is, indeed, a slut!
If everyone that got in my car and gave me a headache with their sickening mix of perfume gave me a dollar, I would be able to go out for a gourmet dinner every night. If I had another dollar for every guy that had to apologize as he dragged his hysterical(ly drunk) girlfriend out of the backseat, telling her they're only a block away, I would be able to take Nick out for those gourmet dinners with me. If the girl that told me I was incompetent for not only being five minutes late but also pulling up ACROSS THE STREET from where she was waiting, taking a different route than she was expecting, and eavesdropping on her cell phone conversation from the front seat gave me 300 dollars, which she should have, I would be able to buy an iPod, which would be awesome.
I work odd weekends and a few days a week to give these people COMPLETELY FREE rides home, these people who get more spending money from mommy and daddy per month than I get in four years, these people who, if you added up the total of how much everything on their body cost - hair goo, makeup, boots, jacket, skirt, shirt, underwear - everything - it would actually be more than my biweekly paycheck. Probably my monthly one too.
Poor people never call us. Poor people are used to taking the bus. If there isn't a bus, they will call us, not complain if there is a wait, not request rides of a distance of five blocks, be on time to meet us, and thank us profusely as they leave the car.
14:52 - Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005
That last one was a dream. Iíve been having other, less coherent ones too.
12:32 - Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005
The guest room in my house kept changing around and then all of a sudden it stopped, and someone moved in. She wore a prom dress when she moved in. She moved in with a four-poster and a closet full of jewels. My parents said she was a long-lost friend of mine. I remembered him. His name was Ami. When I went in to say hello, she regarded me seriously through her eyelashes' veil of black colour. 'I knew it was serious when I felt the nausea for four days straight,' she said.
The only trouble I was in was that I had been cast in a pornographic film. Which hadn't been that bad, since the take had gone so awry that they decided to film it again with different actors. The boy they had put me with was so laughable to me that every time I pulled his pants down - take seventeen! - Mickey Mouse cartoons appeared on the ceiling. I mean, he was clad - for a porno - in a sideways-leaning baseball cap, an oversized Cubs jersey, and khakis. Every time the cartoons appeared, he would flip us over so that I had to look at the Mickey Mouse cartoons and he wouldn't be laughing while he was trying to have sex with me, which wouldn't look good on film. Facing the cartoons, my eyes would be closed anyway, so I didn't know they were there. He finished so fast he got kicked out of the studio for being a terrible porn star, and for obviously having a thing for cartoon characters.
The only other trouble I could think that Ami might have been referring to is that murderers were chasing me at night. I did not consider that a problem. It is true that they were everywhere; emerging from chocolatiers with knives, lurking in parking garages with machetes, crossing streets on red lights with carefully sharpened axes. The first time I found myself surrounded, I called my mom on my cell phone and she appeared in less than ten seconds, shooing the murderers with the power and the presence of her Geo Prism. But then, when I knew they were out there, waiting, waiting for me to step cautiously from my workplace, waiting to lurk and look menacing and probably do unspeakable things if it got that far along, it became simple. It was as simple as an excuse to ask my cute shaggy-haired co-worker to walk me to my car. He was cleaning the desks when I asked him - he was a junior high teacher, I think.
He may have kissed me. He may not have. He did run a finger up my stomach. Ami started watching then, so I joined, at the last minute, a marching band trip in Hollywood. Ami was watching me and waiting for me to get into trouble, so I chatted up girls from Kansas in the waiting room, girls with ringlets and as much eye makeup as Ami, if not more. I kept up with the groups as they sprayed the contents of their spit valves onto towels, as they wiped their flutes with gold-compatible yellow cloths. I watched out for trouble, because Ami, the uncomfortable but still somehow the guardian, said there would be some. Ami, who cried when she found blood on her underwear because she thought she was dying.