The week of a magazine publicist is frantic, frugal, and full of open bars. The lifestyle necessitates an overabundance of perks. In order to compensate for the stress and demands of the job and nurse my liver, I accepted the offer of free press tickets to the First Annual Coney Island Freaktoberfest.
Chana, Sara, Darren and I took the D all the way to Coney Island after work on Friday. The weather had cleared up, and we were giddy from the long subway ride. When we emerged at the mecca of all fast food restaurants, Nathan’s Famous, we squealed.
We made our way to the freak show seeking beer and, well, freakshows. Almost immediately, we were accosted by the self proclaimed Strongest Beer in the World, a delicious He-Brew, and something that tasted like grapefruit, Darren’s favorite.
By then we were drunk and back at Nathan’s, feasting on hot dogs and fries, hiccupping with laughter.
We went back to Freaktoberfest and encountered all the freaks Freaktoberfest had promised. From the sideshow freaks, to the burlesque show freaks, to the beer-drinking freaks, to the deformed version of ourselves that stared back from the hall of mirrors. We stood in front of the mirrors, allowed our eyes to readjust as our legs grew and our faces contorted; part trick of the eye, part effect of the booze.
The circus sideshow was a throw-back of sorts, complete with a lightbulb eater, a fire juggler, and the requisite woman in a knife-strewn box. The crowd hooted and hissed with drunk delight. I sat down next to a man from my past, who was a guest of a coworker. “It’s a small world,” he winked, as the ringmaster buried another knife into the box. Someone screamed. Chana left.
We slid into wire backed chairs and folded our arms patiently, watching the burlesque dancer named Cherry Pitt slowly strip down to a g-string and tassels. Sara impulsively stuck a dollar in her thong. Darren followed, sat back down, and smiled. “This is the best birthday present, kid.”
Some of my colleagues showed up and hollered. So I stuck a dollar in the dancer’s underwear, too. Why not?
A bunch of us walked down to the beach, and I ran into the ocean, soaking my feet and bottoms of my jeans. I didn’t care. I rolled a tiny joint and we sprawled out on the sand, passing it quickly and letting the wind carry the smoke out into the Atlantic.
On our way home to Manhattan, Sara and I stretched out on the Q train. Someone poked me. I had no idea where I was, but I assumed it was the end of the line.
“Miss, get up.” It was a police officer. Oh shit. He woke Sara up, and let Darren sleep upright. He led us off the train, and I grabbed Darren and pulled him with us.
“You girls aren’t from New York, are you?” asked Officer Ng.
“We’re both from New York,” I said, trying to sound poised.
“It’s illegal to lay down in the subway. You could get robbed. Did you know that?”
At this point, Sara began giggling. I elbowed her on the bench.
“Officer, you see, we were coming back from Coney Island, and we were so tired, and we knew we would end of falling asleep, we even set an alarm!”
Sara laughed out loud.
“I’m going to have to do a background check to make sure there aren’t any warrants out for your arrest.”
We handed him our ids and tried to sit still. My contacts were glued to my eyes. Sara’s giggles were glued to my ears. Five, maybe ten minutes passed. We all sat still. The cop finally shrugged. No one was returning his walkie-talkie code. He sneered at us and gave us back our ids.
“I’m going to let you girls go.” Darren coughed. “But don’t do it again. Consider this a warning.”
“Oh we will, officer!” I cheered.
As Ng walked away, Sara burst into laughter. Darren rolled his eyes. I yawned. What a freak.
All photos (c) Darren —S—, 2008