On a normal weekend, I divide my time between studying and catching up with the friends I neglect during the school week. One of my very best friends is a burlesque dancer named Suzy Q, whose troop had their debut show Sunday at the Shakedown.
Suzy and her partner in crime, Evie Squeezie, have been peeling for about two years. They’ve teamed up with boy-lesquer Champagne to form the Freudian Slips. Because burlesque dancers don’t pick up their own clothes after taking them off, there is always at least one other person attached to the troupe who doesn’t dance. This is the Stage Kitten, who does not dance and who appears onstage in more demure attire than the dancers, usually in between songs. A Stage Kitten has the job of retrieving clothing and other props, serving as a prop herself when the occasion calls for it, and in a floor-level venue like the Shakedown, doubling as security.
Kittening for the Freudian Slips are my good friend Koshka and belly dancer Anyelle, who is world-class in her own right and who had a number in between the Slips’ two sets. Suzy decided that Anyelle and Koshka should be the maid and the butler, respectively, because a.)it was funny and b.) it was a good excuse to put Anyelle into a French maid outfit and indulge Koshka’s love of cosplay.
Koshka doesn’t drive, so I gave him a lift to their rehearsal space in the Bellingham Theater Guild’s green Room . It was a great excuse to not pack my kitchen. Koshka strolled out ofBuchananTowerslooking dapper in a tailcoat and white gloves. He smiled sheepishly at my catcalls through the open passenger window, climbing over a pile of empty gardening pots on the floor of my passenger side.
When we got to the space, I ducked out to grab something cheap to eat and came back with the intention of studying on the couch while the Slips rehearsed. This, of course, was a dumb plan, as hanging out with Suzy is very rarely conducive to studying anything but food science and textile art. In other words, we cook a feast and sit around sewing. My book of short fiction and the attached assignment stayed in my bag while we ate pizza and smoked Champagne’s hand-rolled cigarettes. Suzy and Evie worked out the
unintentional kinks in their choreography while Koschka stood a little offstage and blushed after Champagne.
“Throw some MJ into your mix!” Champagne suggested to the girls while he stepped back into the trousers they had shucked off him.
“What’s MJ?” asked Evie.
“Can you demonstrate this MJ dancing you speak of?” Suzy teased while he and Evie practiced the trouser-shucking again.
“You just wanna see me dance in my underwear.”
We all nodded and smiled.
When the rehersal ended, I drove Koshka back to Western, distracted him from his homework until he grew annoyed (he’s very studious,) and called my sister to tell her that I wouldn’t be home that night. This would later get me into trouble with my Godsons, who demanded to know where I had been.
The roads were mercifully clear enough to let me drive like a bat out of hell toFerndale, where Suzy lives. The Slips were deep into costume production when I got to The Compound, a five-acre swath of land with an orchard and two houses, where Suzy lives with her daughter and mother in the main house and an older couple rents the second house.
Middle Eastern pop music was playing loudly in the kitchen while Anyelle practiced turns in a floor-length chiffon skirt and one of Suzy’s bras. The woodstove was going full-bore, putting the inside temperature at a cozy eighty degrees (I like it warm indoors) and Suzy and Evie were seated at sewing machines piecing together thirties-style mermaid skirts out of glossy black dance knit.
Having had a minor freakout during my drived at the gravity of the impending breakage of my lease and all the uncertainty brought with it, I came into this vibrant scene silent, which is unusual for me. My standard greeting among friends is pterodactyl noises.
“Dude, what the fuck is wrong?” Suzy demanded.
I gave her the short list, trying to keep my voice from shattering.
“Sit down and cry,” she ordered, pressing a box of tissues into my hand and seating me at the hearth, where she laid about a pound of chocolate out. “This kitchen is built on tears!” she dismissed, with a theatrical wave.
How could I NOT feel better?
Because I’m a novice at sewing, there came a point where I realized that my own pattern for the night was not going to fit.
I might have snapped a little.
Suzy was wrestling with the same issue regarding her skirts. Her reaction was about the same. By this time, Evie and Anyelle had left, so Suzy and I sat around shrinking each other’s heads. This is fairly standard for us; maybe because we’re the only ones crazy enough to help each other.
Eventually, we wound up sitting atop the woodstove, cooled to tolerable heat with the barrier of jeans, and Suzy said, “I had supper with Lex when she was up from Seattle the other day and she told me she had looked up the definition of perfect in the dictionary.”
“Yeah. She said the working definition of Perfect is ‘Not lacking in any essential detail. Complete.’ I like that,” she added thoughtfully. After a pause, she added, “Perfection isn’t the lack of flaws. It’s being complete along with your flaws.” She fixed me with her honey eyes, shadowed from lack of sleep and stress, and declared, “Cerridwen, you are perfect. You. Wrap your brain around that.”