June 10, 2007

"...He was wearing gold Versace loafers."

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aylah and Anthony
first met a year before they would become friends.

At the time, Taylah was dating Mack who was doing graphic design work for a boutique called Purple Rain. Mack took Taylah into the shop one day to drop off some specs. It was fantastic: antique chandeliers hung from the lilac painted ceiling and the walls were wallpapered with gold-and-lilac striped paper. Oddly enough a Weezer album was blaring at top volume from cleverly-hidden speakers. A huge table of neatly-folded designer denim filled the middle of the shop and the walls were lined with racks of beaded couture bodices and dresses. There were several glass cases packed with exquisite costume jewelry, and belt-buckles and shoes that would break the heart of any footwear addict were lined up on the floor around the perimeter of the shop. Taylah was intrigued, especially when Anthony, who owned the shop with his mom came out of a beaded doorway in the back.

Anthony had pale skin, as if he stayed indoors for most of the day, and a face that wore a constant expression of mockery. His dirty-blonde hair was incredibly messy, and Taylah suspected that he spent a lot of time trying to get it to look this way. His clothes were quite disheveled: a Black Sabbath t-shirt and tightly worn grey jeans. And he was wearing gold Versace loafers.

Taylah had learned long ago that you can tell a lot about a person from the shoes they wear. She sneaked glances at him while he spoke to Mack and pretended to shop. Most of his fingers were clad in huge silver rings and on his wrist he wore a massive platinum watch, that looked suspiciously similar to the "Rolex” her dad had just purchased in Mexico for fifty bucks. His arms were covered in Ed Hardy style tattoos.

"Is this the girl?" he asked Mack, nodding toward where Taylah was standing pretending to inspect a handbag. Mack just nodded and didn't offer any introductions.

When Mack and Taylah were back in the car, Mac asked her what she thought.
"I think that Anthony is a poser," she offered, giggling.
"He's an eccentric rich kid. And I meant, what did you think of the shop?" Mack said sternly.
"Oh, it was… cool. I guess."

A year later Taylah found herself single; Mack was entirely too jealous, which she found entirely too exhausting. She’d bought a car she couldn't afford on her publishing job salary alone, and had begun working nights at a local bar, Sonny's.

Sonny's was a dive. Instead of chairs and tables, the place was filled with old couches and coffee tables that they'd found at St. Vinnie's. Sonny's looked like what your parent's basement might have looked like when you were a kid: dingy and stale, decorated with bargain basement velour paintings and tragic lamps. But, like your parent's basement, it was a laidback place to party.

During Taylah's first week waitressing at Sonny's, Anthony came in and sat on a sofa in her section. She recognised him straight away. He didn't seem to recognise her. Anthony had his same simulated messy hair-style and was wearing the same gold loafers. He was with a very short guy whose head was completely shaved and extra shiny. The guy was wearing enormous wrap-around black sunglasses despite the fact that it was 11:30 at night and he was indoors. He looked like a miniature bodyguard.

Taylah approached them, but before she could ask what they would like to drink, Anthony cut her off, “Where is Jordan? I want Jordan as my waitress,” he demanded. The cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth moved up and down with each word.

Taylah spit back, "Jordan's not here, so you're stuck with me-- what do you want?" He sighed, sat back in the sofa and began to visually inspect Taylah. "Who are you?" he asked.
"Taylah. What would you like to drink?"
"I will have a Ketel One and Cranberry and Wayne here, he'll have a soda water with lime." he ordered. Taylah turned around, rolled her eyes and headed over to the bar to drop off his order.

As she stood there waiting for the drinks she thought: What a sleaze. And then she turned around to get a better look at him and noticed he was staring right at her. Their eyes locked and he smiled crookedly, making her very uncomfortable. She returned his smile with a look of disgust, and he laughed out loud and then continued a conversation with his driver or bodyguard or whomever this Wayne character was meant to be.

When Taylah returned with the drinks, Anthony shoved a fistful of cash into her hands. She counted it-- he had given her forty dollars too much and she let him know. "Keep it." He winked. "No, thanks," Taylah shot back and dropped the bills on the table.

When he got up to leave a few drinks later he left the forty bucks on his table along with twenty dollars more.

Scenes like this went on for months-- Anthony and Wayne came in every Friday and Saturday night. Instead of asking for Jordan, Anthony now asked for Taylah. He would be embarrassingly rude if he didn't get what he wanted.

Taylah would serve him drinks with the minimal amount of courtesy and the maximum amount of disdain and Anthony would leave her obnoxiously huge tips. She was less than impressed and thought that Anthony had no idea about what kind of person she really was. The other waitresses had started to ask her questions like: "You guys are fucking, right?" Taylah would swear up and down on family members' graves that they weren't and that she was telling the truth.

One Friday afternoon, after Taylah had got home from her day-job and was getting ready to go to work at Sonny's, her roommate convinced her to smoke a joint. She hadn't had a Friday night off in weeks. Taylah decided, “Fuck it”. Why shouldn't she? She was sick and tired of working 16 hour days, and she was actually considering setting her car alight and collecting the insurance.

But that night Taylah went into work anyway, with a buzz that made work a thousand percent easier. In fact, she was better at her job than ever before: she was relaxed and confident and had chats with the customers, and that night she made well over $200 in tips. It wasn't until it was 30 minutes until closing that Taylah realised Anthony and Wayne hadn't come in.

As Taylah did her sidework, wiping down tables and cleaning out ashtrays, she figured that Anthony was probably at some bourgie party somewhere drinking ketel ones and cranberry, with fake-breasted, skinny girls in low rise jeans with hair extensions glued into their heads. Of course Wayne would not be far off assessing the situation, remaining emotionless.

She was bent over a table trying to peel off a sticker that some stupid drunk had put there when her fantasy was interrupted. Someone had their two hands on her two hips and was standing quite close behind her. She stood up and reeled around - it was Anthony. He was standing very close and reeked of vodka.

"Are you alright?" he smirked, and Taylah stepped out of his reach. Taylah wasn't even angry. Actually she felt like she felt years ago when she was caught making out with the captain of the basketball team on her dad's leather couch. "Yes," she replied indignantly, while she thought, No, I wasn't just having a dream sequence of you chatting up skanks. He just stood there and winked.

Taylah hated it when people winked it made her think of grandads or music teachers.

"We're nearly closed, what do you want?" she spoke slowly trying her best to sound angry, while feeling as if a million needles were poking into every patch of her skin. Anthony stood there for ages before he spoke. For some reason he looked different tonight. Something about his eyes.

A couple of hours later Taylah found herself sitting on the floor of Anthony's apartment. They were both sort of on edge. If she wasn't busy hating him, how was she to behave?

"So you're here." he said rather cockily, or at least Taylah thought so. What does he want, she thought. She couldn't logically explain how she had gotten to his apartment. Somewhere in time a verbal invite was extended. She remembered getting off of work and he was there waiting with a cab, but she opted to follow. On the drive over to his place she had cranked her Beatles White album as loud as she could stand and refused to think about anything.

"Do you want to listen to some music?" he asked. When Taylah didn't answer he said, "You like music, right?" She still didn't answer, "Well, you wear that Clash t-shirt to work a lot." "It's my favourite shirt,” she said.

Anthony smiled and nodded, went to the stereo, sat on the floor and sifted through some cds on the floor. He quickly found the one he was looking for and put it in: the Strokes. The intern at Taylah's day job loved the Strokes and played them all the time at the office. She really liked that intern-- she had cute hair and glasses. Taylah smiled to herself and stretched out her legs, rolling back on to her elbows, relaxing with the music.

"You like, you like." Anthony accused. He rarely ever got to see her smile, and when she did it was always at someone else.

They watched “Rich Girls” on MTV with no sound on, listening to the entire Strokes album. They made fun of the silly girls with unrelenting insult-upon-insult, and when they were doubled over laughing at Tommy Hilfiger pretending to be straight and fatherly, something happened and they kissed.

Taylah's first instinct was to push him away. He looked at her and something in his eyes just said, Come on, I dare you.

And Taylah, well, she never looked back.

contributed by Angela Wick

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