May 18, 2004

fear and loathing in south amboy

This was originally written on 07.08.1997 for a writing class I was taking at The New School. The assignment: Write about a truly frightening experience. I was trying to improve my descriptive writing abilities with this piece. As I read it now, I see that I'm a bit heavy-handed with the comparisons and my current tendency to write rambling, run-on sentences was really taking root.

The Honda maneuvered through pitch-black darkness. The dense late summer tree cover eclipsed the moon's attempts at illumination making the road ahead all but invisible, even with the aid of high beams. The chirping of crickets mixed with the low hum of the engine and the gravel popping under the weight of the tires were the only sounds on the deserted stretch of road.

The thick foliage abruptly ended to reveal a large, wide-open space similar to a crop circle in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. Beyond the clearance sat an odd-shaped structure shimmering with dazzling, chasing lights. We inched closer and pulled into a vacant spot.

With some apprehension, we made our way on foot to the parting doors where mist and smoke rolled out to greet us. The movements of the people inside were like stop-action figures in a flip book intermittently lit by a strobe which flickered at a dizzying speed. We saw the moonlight peering through an open back door beckoning us to join the rest of our group. We dodged and weaved through a semi-organized cluster of participants engaged in a ritualistic dance until we reached our destination.

Down the stairs and under a big-top tent, various groups of females -- young, middle-aged, old and ancient -- flooded into rows of chairs that surrounded a long, green indoor/outdoor carpet-lined runway protruding from the stage. Shortly after, club music blared from the speakers as scantily-clad males skidded across the stage and pranced down the runway into a sea of outstretched arms. Wrinkled, fake-tanned hands with liver spots, protruding veins and fluorescent-colored fingernails clawed and pawed at the bronzed mass of oiled muscles writhing before them. Soggy dollar bills were transferred from sweat-drenched hands into the tight straps of red G-strings. The orderly system of seats was leveled in an estrogen-fueled stampede as the crowd clamored for an up-close glimpse of the gyrating forms scampering about.

Our fortress in the back behind some tables was penetrated by "Tonto" in his attempt to escape the posse in hot pursuit. Our refuge was reduced to rubble with overturned folding chairs and beer cups left in the wake of the female mob. We were now vulnerable to further attack as "Joey the Cop" and "Vinnie the Baby" seized upon the moment to hit us up for a donation.

I still remember that night vividly. It was over 10 years ago but I won't forget it. Ever. There was this one woman in particular who was really bold in her pursuit of the dancers. She looked and acted like Carla Tortelli on Cheers. Despite the creepy, dirty old ladies, I think the scariest part of the evening was what we noticed on our way out -- a very well-attended Trixter reunion going on in the main bar. ::shudder::