I'm going back in time here. I was 19. I lived in a tenement above a lowbrow bridal shop while going to university part-time and holding down four jobs. The drudgery of daily routine was offset by getting to know Lily. We met at a Saint Epoch show, a popular OCA art school punk group run by brothers Malcolm and Eden Wilson, abstract painters notorious for their ragged good looks. There were many perks that came with this affiliation: record company parties, free drinks, free smack to keep the figure stickly in order to wear the free clothes from local underground designers. All this was counterbalanced by my anger-injected sex with Malcolm. His rock-boy misogyny vetoed all my needs in the fucking department. The amusing thing was, my puss and I raced him to the finish in the coming department.
Malcolm's distaste for females was obvious but never threatening. The reason might have been that he looked quite girlish. Malcolm had longer eyelashes and poutier lips than I did. In public, he behaved like my slave, and his admirers ate it up! Little did they know what a super little poncey bitch he was behind closed doors.
However, my favourite part of the Saint Epoch shows was to surprise Lily with my weekly new hair. One week I had thin chromatic streaks of lavender, silver and mint green in my shoulder-length locks, mashed flat and crisp with a Westinghouse iron. She confidently commented that I looked like a chrome pastel waterfall, and then sighed. A slowed release of breath separated her black-cherry bee-stung lips.
Lily didn't trust anyone, but I could tell she was warming to me because I celebrated her instead of competing with her, which most other girls did. We eventually let off steam on our own, sans boyfriends. Yippee! Girls' night alone, high on bennies and Cuban coffee milkshakes, cracking up whilst mimicking Malcolm and Eden, telling goofy sick jokes about feminine hygiene and singing along to Nico, Laura Nyro and Poly Styrene.
Over time I found myself staring at Lily in the audience more than Malcolm onstage. Her arrogant, lavish charm with sequined filth too lazy to wash mesmerized many hipster girls and boys. My own growing affection for her matched a kid's first sugar rush. Her entrances invigorated me.
Lily's worshippers exhausted her to the point of anemic grief. Her heavy sighs demanded you fetch her the nearest chaise longue so she could anguish about her soul being sucked while sipping drinks bought by the crush vampires. I had never met a girl both so delicate and so cavalier.
One night she stayed over at my place at Queen and Crawford. We watched Chuck the Security Guard while eating bad homemade lasagna and popcorn, washing it down with Welch's. My weirdo roommate came home unexpectedly, so Lily slept in my bed with her tights still on. At one point in her sleep she wrapped her legs in mine, creating a vine to entwine us. I shivered with delight from my spine to the tips of my nipples. I kissed her bee-stung grape-lipstick-caked lips. She kissed me back, still sleeping, far away in her dreams, snoring the tiny gasps of a kitten.
The next morning we strolled the rainy, empty streets. All of a sudden our legs turned to lead. We couldn't move, trapped in front of the Sunday Sun headline: "NY Goofball Kills Beatle." John Lennon was dead. Was I still snuggled in bed with Lily, dreaming a strange dream? And over our chatty morning coffee would I brag, "Guess what? John Lennon was assassinated in my dream last night. Think I should get that dream analyzed?"
But it wasn't a dream. We're on wet, dirty, bare Queen Street and I have never hated the Sunday Sun more for being the cliché it is. It felt like the end of the world. Conversely, an emptiness triggered the bravado within me to ask Lily the big question: "Do you recall us kissing, um, kissing last night?" She became defensive and hostile, insisting she wasn't a sandal-loving, tofu-munching idiot. While I was thinking of ways to back-pedal, she interrupted, swallowing her saliva, with a difficult whisper saying, "I love you, you odd little muffin."
We cried for what seemed like hours in the rain. We began kissing tentatively, medium-soft, then urgently, searching for each other's scent, ripping at each other's chapped lip skin, licking rain off each other's faces. Oh, the taste of day-old makeup was succulent. The finale of active mouth-to-mouth action relaxed into a still hug, safe in a lone place of the heart encircled by the sadness of the world. I finally saw myself truly with Lily as she did with me. Forever was about to begin.