blink. blink. my eyes were slow to open and even slower to focus. It seemed to my very groggy mind that I was being watched by a blue-eyed Cyclops. I pushed my head back what seemed like a mile, but was more likely an inch, and the face of an unknown child of approximately 7 came into view. I startled and fell off the opposite side of the child-sized bed that my mostly adult body had been precariously placed on.
I was very confused. I slowly took in information. Princess sheets, headache, clothes on (thank God) some kind of garage. I could see where this child corner abruptly became a bleak adult bedroom with a queen sized bed and plenty of empty wine bottles. The sheets had rode off one corner of the bed exposing a mattress that was yellow with age.
She eyed me suspiciously. I would have too. I tried to think of something to say to this stranger whose Mom had put me in her bed after fucking my brains out in her own. When we had tumbled into the room it was well past 3 in the morning. The child had been sleeping inside the house with her Grandma and Grandpa. I had been redressed and sent to sleep in the kid-bed because the little one was likely to crawl in with her Mom in the early morning.
It was apparently past early morning and I had nothing to say for myself. Perhaps sensing this, she spoke, “Do you like to play unicorn princess?” She said it in the same tone that surprised adults would use to say, “Who the fuck are you?”
“Yes I do.” What else could I have said? A nervous bead of sweat rolled down my face.
“Well come on then.” She stood and walked towards the door that I assumed led into the house. I absolutely, under no condition, wanted to go in there.
Her Mom was some kind of photographer. Either that or she wore a camera to pick up chicks. Down on her luck, she had moved back in with her parents to get help with her kid and maybe her drinking problem. I searched my mind for her name but it was not there. I had met her in a bar, in a town where I was visiting with the most recent in a string of men I was using for protection, status and a sense of self worth, in other words my “boyfriend”.
I had gone out with his best friends girlfriend for a fun night while the guys watched her kids. We went to a bar that was having a generic fetish party. It was 5 dollars or free in a costume. I tried to convince the door person that young homeless girl was a real turn on for a lot of weird rich men but eventually I had to just take off my pants to get in without paying the cover.
I remember being pretty tossed when she decided to leave and I decided to stay. I had a thing for middle-aged lesbians and I had been exchanging glances with one all night. She had a camera around her neck and a backwards hat. Hot.
What I would find out the next day is that while I was trying to convince my friend that she should stay and we could both find a nice lady to sleep with, the phone in her pocket had accidentally called her house and left the whole conversation as a message on an out loud machine. This was the early years of cell phones and my first experience with their sense of humor.
The next I recall I was sitting on a velvet couch close to the bar taking shots of tequila that seemed to be magically appearing before me, one after the other. It occurred to me that I should investigate this phenomenon. Four shots in, I looked up. To my surprise there was a half circle of butches, fifteen to thirty years my senior, before me. They had decided, as a group, to take turns buying me shots. They were making bets about who was going to take me home.
I told that door person I was a fetish.
Thankfully my favorite, the photographer, was on the couch beside me. I leaned over and declared my preference to the room with a very sloppy kiss. We finished our drinks, tried to order more and found out that the bar was closed.
We went to her little Toyota truck parked across the street. We got in and as she searched for her keys a cop car pulled up behind the truck. The cop waited for our next move. Well, our next move was deciding to walk home. We rolled out of the truck and the cop rolled on.
We took turns puking on our stumble, some 4 miles into the suburbs. When we got back to her house it is a foggy memory of blankets and clothes and hats tossed so many directions that I believe it took longer to get dressed again than it had taken for each of us to get off.
That’s how I ended up in that eensy bed being watched awake by a wild eyed child who was leading me into her grandparents home.
I got the sense that others were home but they kept to the back of the house as the girl poured us each huge bowls of sugar cereal. When they were empty she poured another and then a third. My eyes were about to burst from their sockets. My pupils were like sauce pans from the high fructose corn syrup that had replaced the blood in my veins.
She took down two salt shakers from the top of a stove that held many. She uncorked the bottom of one and handed it to me. “Now,” she said with a great deal of authority, “Now, we are unicorns. We will use this magic invisible fairy unicorn dust powder to leave ourselves trails to follow back home when our journey is complete.”
It was like the cereal, she had a large container of salt and refilled our shakers whenever the emptied. We dumped a good pound or more of salt into that living room carpet before I heard the knock.
Behind the knock was my friends’ boyfriend. I had called on a random kitchen counter cell phone 2 hours earlier. My boyfriend was in the truck and not, as it turns out, in too much of a talking mood. I felt happy, hung over…sure, but happy. I could tell that this irritated both of them. I smelled like tequila and a grocery store cereal aisle and I was talking a hundred miles a minute about the child I had met and wondering aloud what had become of her mother.
The first time I got drunk I lived with my mom. I had been brought home by older friends who were freaked out by my vomiting and loosing consciousness. I have one memory of my Mom waking me up by slapping me across my face and shaking me. She was screaming. She was scared. The next morning I woke up with an awful hangover. I was always jealous of people who said it took years of drinking to start getting hangovers.
Anyways, to punish me she made me go shopping with her all morning. She took me to grocery stores, department stores, the mall. The lights, the sounds, it was terrible. If I hadn’t been an alcoholic, it probably would have scared me into stopping.
The funny thing is that four years later, at 17, these two men did the same thing. They took me shopping for hours. I don’t think they even bought anything but we went to every store between the suburban photographer family home and that couples rural house. The louder and brighter the place, the more business they pretended to have there!
Tonight, I search my mind for the names of that unicorn princess or her desperate mother but they are not there. I remember some things about being small. I remember raising myself. I remember being lonely. I remember everyday being a surprise until it was not surprising anymore. I hope, for all the salt, that that unicorn princess found her way home.