The period scene will of course leave you agape, but for women it has the added bonus of hitting some of us a tiny bit close to home. Who among us hasn't hemorrhaged whilst reaching for the Hot Pockets? Sometimes, when you're a teenage girl, the river of life rages. We all have embarrassing stories of that fateful day when we wore white pants instead of jeans and discovered our wayward panty shield jutting out of the cuff of our trouser leg. I remember incidents like this and wince. I call such incidents "The Buttpucker Moments of Life," the ones that, when you recall them, cause you to winch up every orifice.
This week's Buttpucker happened easily enough. I was in Oakland at a new bar called the Uptown. For those of you intrepid enough to ever hit the East Bay, there's not only a gaggle of bars located in downtown Oakland, but KALX's DJ Kitty also just opened up her own bar -- Kitty's -- in Emeryville. (You know, that place where the IKEA is.) Should you ever find yourself stranded across the bridge, rest assured you will at least be able to get loaded in the style you are accustomed to.
The Uptown did something really great. It took all the grand fin de siècle woodwork and gimcracks from a defunct Old Spaghetti Factory and created a beautiful bar out of it. It's odd to be in a new bar that feels like it already has a history. Yes, if you listen closely enough you can hear the ghostly whining of 6-year-olds who want to know when their pasquetti is gonna come.
I made myself comfortable on a stool, and the bartender came and greeted me. We considered each other for a moment, speaking one another's unspoken language perhaps, and then I ordered a martini. He excitedly jumped up and brought over a bottle of gin called Martin Miller's. "It's great," he assured me. "Try it."
"Okey-doke," I replied. The ensuing martini was, er, good, though Martin Miller's gin tastes like potpourri; it had the distinct flavor of lavender. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. We proceeded to yak away about whatever, and John, as I was to learn was his name, even let me program the music in the computer that was playing in the bar. That is, until I chose an Eagles song. (Goddamn music snobs!)
All of this was going quite swimmingly, me with the yip-yap, he with the rebuttals, when slowly another voice began to join our conversation. It was a fella sitting two people over. Eventually, he got up and stood next to my chair and we continued our conversation, which at this point was about his job booking Sweet's Ballroom over on Broadway. He had an accent that I loved, one that I couldn't quite place but made me feel nice. He proceeded to say that he was from North Carolina, and it didn't take long to find out that -- small world -- he was an old friend of my stepbrother, who grew up there too.
And so cameth the Buttpucker.
You see, this fella, Steve, went to my stepbrother's high school. The same high school I came out to visit when I was 15, tagging along with my stepbrother the whole day. I'm glad to say that my embarrassing moment wasn't born of menses or flatulence, but rather was due to the fact that I looked ridiculous at that time. I was newly punk rock, with a bad attempt at short, spiky hair. The hair would stay sticking up on the sides, but on top it preferred to lie flat in most places, much to my chagrin and despite myriad reapplications of mousse. I was a walking crop circle. I had also made my own punk shirt, writing various rebellious clauses on it with a Sharpie, and had put safety pins in my Army pants for the hell of it. All of this was fine in some ways, because I thought I looked really cool. But as I was sitting in the lunch room I began to look around, and various tables of popular, attractive teens were holding their hands up to the sides of their heads and flailing their fingers skyward. They were making fun of my hair. The hand sign had spread over the entire school in a matter of hours. Sitting in the bar, thinking back on this moment, my butt puckered.
Steve didn't remember my visit, which is probably why I really liked Steve. He also agreed that my stepbrother's girlfriend at the time -- who "danced with Madonna," as she was wont to point out -- was sort of a ho. All of this raises the question: If you are the only person who remembers something, is it not time to retire the Buttpucker? For this new year, I would like to give all readers permission to retire one Buttpucker Moment. But first, do e-mail me your experience. It will be cathartic -- get it out of your system and then retire it forever. All names will be withheld. Unless the shit is really fucking funny.