Field Trip

Check out my piece on the Flip today.  Click through on the image below.

The room smells like chicken chow mein.  “Do you mind sitting over there while we finish lunch?” he asks, a little fairy with glasses sitting in front of a plate of greasy Chinese food, a plastic fork in his hand.

Countless girls sit in cream plastic folding chairs, none of them a day over 21.  I need to ramp up my eye cream regimen, or perhaps start falling asleep in bathtubs filled with Botox.  Someone passes around a chart filled with names and agencies and ages.  Eighteen, nineteen, eighteen, twenty-one, eighteen, twenty, nineteen.  Some poor sucker has actually cited herself as twenty-six.  A model dinosaur…

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Paris 1

My flight’s at 9:30.  Another redeye to Paris.  Another cheap subway ride to JFK.  Dusk rests and darkness sets in, the light from inside the Air Train reflecting images back at us, everyone sitting across from their own ghost, shadows clearly painted.  I stare at me, pale and excited in a subdued sort of way.  My fall coat, my leather boots.  So much winter possibility.

The fashion camp is here.  Wardrobe stylists talk to hair stylists who talk to bloggers who talk to makeup artists.

“Oh, hi!”

“Hey.”

“What’s up?”

They all know each other, this secret society of girls who look like boys and boys who wear designer zip-up hooded sweatshirts.  Skull and Bones, only less educated.  Skin and Bones, wrapped in an Alexander McQueen skull-print scarf.  People with articulated haircuts and clothing with a point of view: skintight army pants, Dior trench coats, Helmut Lang hobos.  Everyone’s already dying for their post-Atlantic cigarette and we haven’t even left yet.

I board the plane behind a man and a woman, though the woman is actually a man dressed up as a woman.  The first thing I notice is the ass, or lack thereof.  Jeans hug onto nothing while he moves with an exaggerated feminine sway to overcompensate for the curves he does not naturally possess.  Next, his hands – affected hands swooning with a false delicacy to thwart the likelihood you might see them for what they actually are: the hands of a boy.  He kisses his Dockers-wearing boyfriend and turns left towards Business Class, silky black hair trailing behind him, his Louis Vuitton bag hanging in the bent crux of his arm.  Straight Boy Man Candy makes his way with me towards steerage, a purple bottle of Milk Chug in hand.

My seat is near the back, row 20-something-whatever.  My knees cram up against the tray table in front of me, the cabin already uncomfortably cold.  The most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen walks down the aisle with his floppy hair and his nice jaw line, his brown coat and his black shirt.  If God were a director, he would sit next to me.  Instead, God is a comedian, and the boy walks past and sits down in the last row in the seat next to the bathroom.

The plane fills up and they close the doors.  We speed down the runway and Manhattan disappears.  I pop half of a Xanax I scored in the Dominican last week and listen to the engine roar against my left ear for seven hours while I “sleep,” crushed next to the window like a bent sardine.

I wake up with the inconvenient screaming need to pee and contemplate navigating my way across the laps of the two men trapping me in, their legs like indomitable tree trunks.  I stare longingly towards the open aisle for a good three minutes, plotting plans of escape as though they were mathematical equations, my brain fuzzy from blue pills and sleep deprivation.  I give up.  I poke the man in 29C.  Move.

Light rings around my closed window as they begin to serve some terrible continental breakfast of sugared yogurt and a yellow banana.  Everything tastes like recycled air.  I open my window shade as we approach the jagged coast of France.  Farms lay out like shattered glass, a mosaic of greens and browns, the patchwork quilt of an incompetent seamstress – little towns sewn into the places between, quaint hamlets filled with people speaking French.

The rural countryside gives way to the more closely compact suburbs and our wheels touch down.  Another flight that I survive.  Another week in Paris.

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