Chapter One; Part One
“I am too fucking old for this,” I grumble, lifting my Diet Coke to my lips. I glare around me at all the gyrating bodies, pissed off that they are oblivious to my plight. I had recently turned forty-five, and I am feeling every year of it.
“Lighten up, Liang!” Julianna shout in my ear over the blare of Purple Rain. First Ave is doing yet another Prince tribute, which seems to happen once a week since he died. “You’ve been an utter bitch since you broke up with Tessa. I thought getting your groove on would cheer you up.”
“Don’t mention that cunt’s name to me,” I say, my face darkening. It’s been three weeks since I caught my long-term girlfriend in her bed with her dog walker, and it still stings as if it had happened an hour ago. “I want to forget that I was ever stupid enough to be with her.”
“That’s why we’re here. We’re gonna hook you up with some cutie to fuck the pain away.” Julianna is scanning the crowd as she talked, which gives me a moment to check her out. She’s my age, but a good four inches shorter than my 5’7”. She has to be fifty pounds lighter as well, which sometimes makes me self-conscious about being around her. Her cropped black hair hugs her delicate features, and her large brown eyes sparkle with mischief. She’s ascended from Japanese royalty, whereas I’m from hardy Taiwanese peasant stock. I’m unhappily aware of my chunky thighs under my maroon mini-dress with spaghetti straps. Julianna is wearing a clingy sapphire blue mini-dress that accentuates her slenderness, and she is garnering several longing glances from people of all sexual orientations. Any time I bring it up to her, she counters with how jealous she is of my hourglass figure and my lush, waist-length hair. Our mutual appreciation society is one reason we’ve been best friends for twenty years.
“Dude. I can’t even think about fucking.” I finish my Diet Coke, wishing it were something stronger. I’m past my days of imbibing, however, as it made me do stupid shit I always regretted in the morning. I got my first tattoo—a yin-yang on my ass—in that way, and while I didn’t regret getting a tattoo because I’d wanted one for years, impulsively getting one when you’re drunk at nearly midnight isn’t recommended. It turned out horribly, and I was glad it was in a place where I could easily hide it. As soon as I could afford it, I had it covered with a melting sun a la Dali.
“Don’t lie to me, Liang,” Julianna retorts, her eyes laughing at me. “You can always think about fucking.” She slams down a gin and tonic before picking up her next one. She pauses, sets it down, and sips at her water instead.
“Well, it has been almost a month,” I snicker, looking around the room. “The problem is, anyone under thirty looks like an unformed peach to me. I know it’s prejudiced of me, but I have no interest in what they have to say.”
“Not everyone is under thirty,” Julianna says. She points in the direction of a Latina with curves to rival mine. “She looks closer to our age.”
“She’s also grinding on that guy who’s obviously her boyfriend,” I say, nodding at the bald black guy with a passing resemblance to Ving Rhames who is grabbing the Latina’s round ass and pulling her close as Prince sings about how he would die for us, but only if we want him to.
“Girl, you know that don’t mean a thing.” Julianna is a firm believer that it’s each woman for her own, and she wins that fight more often than not.
“I’m not like you, Araki. I have morals.” I stare at Julianna, then we both simultaneously burst into laughter. This is an old joke between us, and it cracks us up every time. “Besides, that guy could mop the floor with me without breaking a sweat. I do not want to mess with him.”