When Virginia Woolf took the picture I had my hand up the back of Anna Karenina's dress. "Try going through this hole here," suggested Anna's girlfriend, a fairy princess ballerina wearing a tutu, rhinestone eyelashes and a tiara. We were all congregated in Anna and the ballerina's bedroom, the place where, as Anna put it, "the magic happens." Anna was standing facing the wall while we worked, patiently reading her encyclopedia of lesbian pulp novels. Virginia stood a few feet away from us and waved her digital camera excitedly, making the stones in her pockets jangle. "This one shot is awesome! You guys have to see this!"
Anna's dress was made out of brocade and it was hard to work the crochet needle through the fabric without coming close to her skin. I like to sew and I'm more or less okay at it, but until that night I hadn't had any experience stitching railroad tracks to people's clothes.
I followed the fairy ballerina out the back door of the house. It was raining and we had to pick our way carefully across the muddy lawn. When we got to the garage Anna Karenina and Virginia Woolf were clustered around a beer keg with the Crocodile Hunter and a codpiece-endowed police clown, admiring the fake blood they have just poured down the front of Anna's dress. "Honey!" exclaimed the ballerina. "You look amazing!" "Yeah," agreed Anna. "I look much more dead now."
We stayed in the garage for a long time, shivering and watching the rain and discussing the stingray attached to the Crocodile Hunter's chest. Virginia smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and looked depressed but Anna was perky and upbeat. I turned down offers of beer and thought about the only reason I ever go to parties: to remember that I don't like going to parties. Miranda July wrote something once about looking at pictures of famous people at "events" and thinking, that is where life is exciting and real--there, at that moment. But it's a time and place we can't ever get to. Real life is something that is always happening somewhere else, to other people.
When everyone had gotten cold and bloodied enough we went back into the house. I wandered into the living room and met a teddy girl in eyeliner and a beehive wearing black heels, cuffed jeans and a leather jacket.
"I wanted to be a boy, "she explained. "But I couldn't find any Converse. So I had to be a girl."
"Oh, that's too bad."
"I know, isn't it?