From the Depths of Ennui

My name is Marina Luz de Santos Jadwiga Fernandez-Wozniak, but everyone just calls me Jaddie. Even my parents doubted their sanity after a couple of years of introducing me.
But as I grew up and later professionally, everyone knew me by my father’s pet name for me. I love all my names, even the weird ones, but I always felt special knowing that my father just decided one day to stop with the cavalcade of names and said I looked like a “Jaddie.” I am sure he had no idea what he was saying except that he was getting super confused trying to grab my attention as a baby. I went to school in the midwest and graduated in marketing and since i avoided getting blind drunk every weekend my grades were good enough so that i immediately went to work for a global clothing brand as a merchandising manager. Corporations are supposed to be the bedrock of meritocracy. Who cares what you look like as long as you perform? Right? Eh… um…. Yeah. It matters, trust me. My best friend, natalia, who worked at the same company as i did, always pointed out that if i really believed in a level playing field, i wouldn’t wear my blonde hair (yes, it’s real) down in a bed-tousled look or delight in wearing all kinds of funky and fun outfits. But who am i kidding? I love clothes and i work in the fashion industry; i have to represent!! The year that Abba touched me, was when Natalia and I traveled to Brazil to help the Brazilian branch readjust their merchandising strategy to focus on a more balanced mix of clothes. It had been a moment since I felt so connected with a project or work in general. I really liked my Brazilian co-workers and I must admit previously I was so bored and I hadn’t worked this enthusiastically in a couple of years. In the Brazil project I was leading an anxious and sleep-deprived team to create a new merchandising strategy and I loved it. My bosses were extremely happy with my work. I was constantly looking forward to work which was insane of course. But? My sunny and positive attitude deserved another couture piece, don’t you think so too?!? Well, one weekend I went out to dinner with Natalia. Natalia can be very restrained and at times she can be described as a grandma in bloomers, but she is also a very dedicated, loyal, and no-nonsense person. At first, I hesitated to take her out to this shady beach party I had heard about because she might not approve. Well, I shouldn’t have worried; Natalia, that evening, was as adventurous as a nun on molly which was frightening as well as a relief.
After dinner we headed to the underground party on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. You may not know this but roaming around as unescorted single women in South America is still dodgy and festivities start around midnight and are terribly busy until dawn. Since these types of parties have a reputation for being remarkably seedy, I called Roger, a waiter friend, to accompany us and prevent any tear-filled scenes. Roger had always tried flirting with me at his restaurant, and I thought he was sweet, horny as fuck but still very sweet. I would have asked Paulo, the guy I really liked, to come with us but he is a serious, quiet guy and I didn’t think he would be comfortable hanging with me and Natalia at the beach party. Roger on the other hand is abnormally friendly and outgoing. Just off the beach he took us to this bar called “Until You Are There.” Don’t ask me what that name means, my only thought is that the owner is particularly philosophical or just a crank hooked on meth. Of course, the bar was in a demilitarized zone and contained some of the most heinous décor since Dachau. The front entrance was a solid concrete wall with razor-barbed wire encircling the top. Over the door lintel a bright red neon sign hung spelling out the absurd bar name. When you first approach the place, the bouncers ask for your name and they hand you a tally sheet. The bar used this sheet to identify you and later account for all the cheap hootch and Red Bull that you drink. At the end of the evening, you pay at a central location near the bar. It is quite ingenious, since there are four gorilla-men at the front door which would prevent you from sneaking off without displaying your final paid bill. Although slightly nervous I might get soiled, I proudly gave them my name “Jane Smith!!” and stepped into the fray. Don’t judge. As we walked in, I quickly noticed there were male and female prostitutes and absolutely hideous patrons hanging around the patio on the other side of the wall. Of course, I am not sure I can call the concentration camp-like courtyard a patio, but let’s be generous. We arrived too early since we were clearly the first customers that were actually expected to pay for their drinks, so I was slightly unsure about the scene. But as time went on, the place filled with the biggest collection of strange people this side of a Carnival sideshow. Around this time a feisty older drag queen in a matching bra, panties and backpack started to wiggle her surprisingly firm ass on stage. She had a beautiful wig with a headband pulling it back in a hideous parody of Marlo Thomas in “That Girl.” She was pouting and shaking all over the place. God loves her, she was a hoot. There were also all these cute boys and girls hanging around waiting for someone to kiss and pay for drinks and abnormal acts of sexuality. It was an open sex-fair with debauched locals and wide-eyed foreigners shopping for love amongst the ragged flowers of Brazil. It was fascinating and appalling at the same time. Of course, I ordered a gin and tonic and sat back to watch. I must admit the whole situation should have been slightly grotesque but clearly, I had gone beyond depravity and was actually enjoying the whole experience.
At first, we drank and watched the parade walk by. The main room was a long, brick rectangle painted a moldy shade of red and with faux wood paneling under a chair rail. There were all these compact discs nailed to the wall and a stage near the bar with tragic hanging decorations. Natalia was belly-laughing just imagining some of the merchandising princesses we knew from work in this shithole. Later, much to my complete surprise when I came back from the bathroom, I saw Natalia was hitting on Roger, for which I had been hoping. Actually, if I am completely transparent, Natalia made out with Roger, to the point where I was fearful she was going to eat him. She was leaving a somewhat nauseating layer of spit all over Roger, but he certainly did not seem to mind as his hand was latched on to Natalia’s ass like Moses clutching the Ten Commandments. Nonetheless, it did warm my heart that Natalia was finally paying attention to a guy. I would say “any guy”, but we all have standards, especially Natalia. I never totally understood her contemptuous attitude towards meeting guys and dating. Natalia was always yearning to date a guy her age that was just as smart but weirdly more successful than her. Why? I asked her. Why? It seemed a ridiculous conceit since finding a guy smarter than Natalia was as likely as both of us getting hit by a meteor. Taking a step back, we all know that regardless of how progressive our parents might or might not be, contemporary society still molds us into these Disney princess wannabes waiting for some Prince Charming. I probably should find this thought totally appalling but it’s hard to constantly push against global expectations. I guess who wouldn’t like someone handsome and rich swooping in and showering us with gobs of money and great sex? But come on… not fucking likely. Finally, we left the bar and got to the beach. Once we were at the party, I looked across the scabrous and filthy sand and standing there in a supernatural glow was one of the most peculiar sights I have ever seen. A tall, voluptuous, perfect Abba drag look-alike, with thick long blonde hair cut in a sassy bob, was prancing in the dance area dressed in pristine white. She was wearing a beautiful, full blouse and pants that were snug without being slutty. Naturally, I had to get closer and as I approached her with a drink in hand, I noticed she was using thick slabs of foundation vainly trying to hide a most unfortunate complexion. The Abba queen was flirtatiously batting her makeup encrusted eyes at another drag queen who was dressed in a red, sequined pantsuit that screamed Tammy Faye. With dramatic flair, Abba spun towards Tammy Faye and grabbed her in an amorous clutch, and they started tonguing each other. Now far be it from me to pass judgement, but I was, it just seemed unhygienic and frankly it was going to ruin the foundation job. Just when I started to turn away and give them privacy, they both, as if in a dream, turned and stared at me. I stood there motionless and at that very moment I felt as if Abba and Tammy Faye really saw Jaddie and understood me. I just knew that they could see through my shield of professional confidence into my deep romantic insecurities and even into the slight sadness that I felt since I was emotionally alone this evening. They smiled beatifically at me, separated, and encircled me as they started gyrating and dancing in a hypnotic frenzy. I felt connected to them spiritually as I also started to hop and bounce. I just knew that I was communing with Abba and could sense her warmth and love projecting towards me as we disassociated from the chaos around us. Around and around, we went, when finally, Abba fiercely grabbed and massaged my left boob. Realizing that I was about to urinate or laugh, I quickly disentangled myself and promptly splattered onto the polluted, grainy sands of Copacabana. A hand reached out and touched my elbow, which caused me to finally snap, and scream in a fit of disillusioned rage. As I looked up to see my potential defiler, it was Paulo. Paulo!!! It was the guy I was missing all evening. There he was, my own Prince Charming… but with a slightly frumpy and trashy looking Snow White at his side. What the fuck??!? Here I was, splayed on the beach, hysterical, bathed in sticky gin and a sandy handprint on my chest and Paulo, the guy I wanted so much to impress and be with, was at this party with another girl. I threw his hand off and like a drunken heffa lurched back up on my hoofs. He was speechless, not surprising, and as I glared at him and Snow Putrid, I have to admit there was this flash of jealousy that spiked out of my cold, black heart. He gulped and immediately introduced me to his sister Fernanda. In a dignified manner, total self-delusion, I grimaced sweetly and tried to explain that I was here with some friends.
As my body started trembling, I excused myself and quickly returned to my people. Of course, sweet Paulo showed up about ten minutes later, wanting to know if I was hurt. He also wanted to tell me how happy he was to see me since he had wanted to be with me that evening, but Fernanda insisted that he accompany her and some of her friends. I pulled myself together, tried to forget that I mentally insulted his sister, and apologized for embarrassing myself with Abba in front of his friends. Paulo just laughed and told me how free and alive I looked dancing. It was sweet of Paulo to say that, and I decided to go along with the banter and quit self-flagellating. Seriously, how successful can anyone be trying to avoid embarrassing themselves in this Cirque du Bizarre. Paulo and his group ended up hanging out with me, Roger, and Natalia. He even held my sticky hand. Around five in the morning Natalia noticed that the clientele had definitely lowered in quality. Now this last statement may seem absurd given the already perilously low standards. But I kid you not, I looked around and the place was mostly filled with an assortment of horrors that have provided me nightmares for days on end. I quickly gave a kiss to Paulo and his poor maligned sister and led my troops out of Dante’s Inferno and into a waiting taxi. At the hotel Natalia and Roger gave zero fucks about the fare and scooted to her room. Sigh. But I can’t fool you; I loved the whole fucked-up experience. The only issue was that Natalia and I had to wake up the next day on Sunday to continue our work. I took the only step that was possible and continued sipping gin in a cup trying to ensure that my hangover would only take into effect after the workday ended. Well later that Sunday I was sitting on the terrace of an open-air restaurant in a very chic neighborhood under absurdly beautiful Jacaranda trees watching the Cariocas walk by. I was waiting for Paulo and hoping that Abba and Tammy Faye were as happy and content as I was at that moment, wherever they were. Although I may call the police if she grabs my boob again.