The other weekend my friend modeled in a hair salon and runway show that took place in downtown Columbus. Only in its second year, the show is a Midwestern attempt at metropolitan style. It was like a casino at first glance, an impression of glitz and glamor but in reality a cheap imitation.
But that didn't make it any less entertaining, each salon parading with a theme, giant hoops and cascades of hair, costumes both demure and deranged, a parade of skin and hair and human ingenuity with pulsing music and an energetic crowd.
The drinks weren't bad either.
The event happened to take place in the same downtown hotel where an ex bartends, but he wasn't working that night, which really took from my potential to nod to my friend and say something clever like, "I used to fuck that bartender and I totally stiffed him on the tip."
The salon my friend was representing won the competition, and after a brief celebration in the lobby, moved the party to a nearby nightclub. The salon my friend worked with chose a life and death theme, which involved intense makeup on their subjects. Some faces chalk white, others painted like skulls, others with torn cheeks exposing muscle and mandibles, all with beautiful, precisely sculpted hair. It seemed an appropriate theme for a world that was expecting the apocalypse in a few weeks' time.
The after party was in a dark room with velvety curtains and mirrors on the walls. Champagne flutes were tossed around to stylists and the living dead that represented them. I took part in the appropriate hand-shaking and mingling and shot-taking that comes with such celebrations.
Then I had an idea.
I have to take one of these dead people home.
Not only because they were, makeup or not, downright gorgeous, but because it would be a story to tell. It didn't even matter which one as long as I could describe pasty-white makeup smeared around lips. I could write about him bringing death to my lips and me bringing life to his. I could describe my bed as a coffin as the morning light crept through my blinds, and compose a scene in intricate detail of me quickly whisking away the dead before the light burnt through the remains of his soul and he turned to dust in my arms.
As my most recent drink carefully swirled these ideas around in my head, my friend thanked me for coming to see her and asked me if I wanted a ride home. It was barely past midnight.
Midnight, midnight, ghosts come out at midnight... Soft echoes from childhood clashed with modern, metallic music that left the walls throbbing.
I accepted my friend's offer. Because I didn't want to sleep with Death, I wanted to tell the story of sleeping with Death. It's the line between fiction and reality that's becoming less blurred but more difficult to walk as time passes. The previous haziness had given me, while unstable, still existent stepping room. In its new definition it's become more thread-like, requiring greater finesse and control to travel safely.
I thanked my friend for the ride home and stayed up entirely too late drinking cheap beer and snacking on pretzels. I sat in the soft glow of my laptop in a drunken haze writing the fictional prose I've been neglecting.
I shouldn't be surprised that I looked like Death in the morning.