Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--the girl can grill

Saturday night my roommates invited a bunch of friends over to barbecue. At first I really hated the idea, and considered ducking out of the party and going to a movie. I could always lie, and tell them I had a date or something. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good barbecue, it’s just meeting people who have some kind of history with Ashlyn is mentally exhausting, and I always come off as an idiot.

I have been dealing with it for about a week now with my roommates, a few examples:

J.J. wants to know if I finished the book she loaned me last month. Of course, I have no idea what she is talking about. She tells me about the book, trying to jog my memory. She says this is an important book to her, it had been a gift from a friend—and I can only shrug. I end up looking brainless, and she walks away mad.

I walk into the kitchen while Dean is cooking, he says to me “Will you hand me a plate, I think this is nearly done.” I then end up going through several cabinets before finding the plates, Dean watching me the whole time. He gives me a funny look and I mumble “I forgot where we keep the plates.”

Girl talk about old boyfriends is the worst of all. Billie came running up to me all upset about some guy she has been dating—apparently Ashlyn had dated the guy briefly, and she wanted to complain to someone who would understand her situation and compare notes. I tried to fake my way through the conversation, but when she started asking me things like “Was he selfish in bed with you?” I immediately tried to get out of the conversation. She persisted. “Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m not exciting enough in bed. What about oral? You used to give him oral, right? Do you think that will help?” That was one mental image I could have done without. I did the best I could, but I could tell Billie walked away frustrated with me.

The only roommate I haven’t annoyed is Logan—but I have been avoiding him. Whenever our paths do cross, he flirts with me. He rubs my shoulders, wraps his arm around me or threatens to tickle me again. I told him I would kick his ass if he ever did that again, but he still walks by and make “tickling” motions with his fingers.

So I had pretty much decided to bail on the barbecue, until they started to prepare to cook. It became apparent to me that none of my roommates knew a thing about barbecue. I started by just offering a little advice on marinating the meat, and soon I was running the whole show.

It actually worked out well for me—it gave me something to do and still allowed me to meet some of my new friends for the first time. I never had to worry about awkward moments in conversation because I always had an out—I would suddenly need to check on the grill.

Then ex-boyfriend showed up.
I was working away on some kabobs, when I hear a “I didn’t know you could cook” behind me. I look over my shoulder and see a tall, good looking guy with dark hair and brown eyes.

“Josh.” I say to him—he took it as a hello, but in reality I was guessing.

“Hello beautiful. I’ve missed you.” He says to me.

He leans in to casually “kiss me hello”, but I stop him by putting a plate of burger patties in his hands.

“Make yourself useful—put these on the table.” He gives me a slight hurt look, but walks away.

I managed to have a good time for the next hour or two—Ashlyn, I—have some really cool friends. It probably helped that I had been drinking wine all evening, and I was a bit tipsy, so I wasn’t so self-conscious about talking to people. Everyone loved the barbecue, and asked me where I learned to cook it like that. I told them “It came to me in my sleep one night.” When you consider I woke up as Ashlyn one morning, that is actually kind of true.

I knew I wasn’t going to make it all night without talking to Josh again—and I was right.

He caught me alone at the dessert table, as I was going for my second nutter butter cookie.

“I thought you hated those.”

I shrugged. “What can I say? Tastes change.”

“Look, Ash—“ He starts.

I stop him. “Not here, let’s go out to the patio.”

It was a bit cool outside. Boston is dipping into the fifties at night. I had to give Joss credit, he thought to grab his jacket on the way out, and he handed it to me.

I hesitated, but took it. I remembered all the jackets I had given up over the years, and I felt I was due one back. It felt warm and smelled good. I was surprised by the later; I have a very picky nose these days.

I had been thinking about the Josh problem for a while now, ever since I heard his heart felt voice messages. I considered being cruel to the man—maybe say things to him to drive him away, maybe lie and say I found someone else.

I couldn’t bring myself to do it—I identified with him too much. I new what it was like to lose a woman you loved. Besides, the original Ashlyn asked me to be nice to him.

So I was kind, and told him some half-truths. I told him he was a wonderful man, but my life was a wreck—and I couldn’t think about being in a serious relationship without fixing the things wrong in my life.

“It’s time for Ashlyn to grow up and stop being a kid.” I tell him. “I need to get a job, pay bills…other grown up stuff.” I give him a cute smile.

He wasn’t happy about it, but I could tell he agreed with some of what I was saying. I’m guessing that anyone who has ever met the original Ashlyn would think the girl needed to get her act together.

I was less inhibited because of all the wine and I gave this guy I met a few hours ago a warm hug—I was thinking it would be what the real Ashlyn would want. “I need you to stop calling me everyday and to give me some space—so I can get my life together.”

He sighed deeply. “All right Ash. Whatever makes you happy.”

Pleased with myself, I let him go. Mission accomplished. I turned to go back inside, but he quickly put his arm around me and pulled me close to him. I looked up at him surprised—and he kissed me.

I was stunned. Before I could get my brain to start working again, the kiss was over and he had gone back inside.

Sunday morning—

I woke up the next day with a slight hang over. I drug myself out of bed and into the tub. Freshly scrubbed, and with freshly shaven legs, I put on some workout clothes, toss my radio station outfit into a bag, and head out to catch the T. My experience in television production gave me some insight—I had seen actresses show up to the set in sweats, a baseball cap and no makeup turned into goddesses by the makeup person. I was betting that this was the same kind of situation.

I get to the radio station and from there I end up riding in a van with several of the other “Promo girls” to Gillette stadium—home of the Patriots. The ride was interesting. No one apparently knew Ashlyn so I was able to participate in conversation without having to over think every word.

We arrive, and are immediately sent to the makeup guy. This one guy, his name was Stephan, took care of us all, both hair and makeup. He was a whirling dervish of activity. He was a nice guy too—whenever I would ask questions he would take the time to explain some of the things he was doing; I learned a few things about hair and makeup from the guy. As he was working on my hair I asked him about going with a shorter hair style. “Are you crazy? You have amazing hair!” He seemed genuinely offended by the idea. When he finished with me, he handed me his card. He said if I wanted to learn more about makeup he was willing to teach me—if I would allow him to do different styles of makeup on me in his shop, and take pictures for his portfolio. I said I would think about it.

He walked away and I turned and stared into the mirror. I was stunned by how much better I looked with professional makeup. I had been doing the bare minimum for days, mostly just lipstick--Stephan had done things to bring out the green of my eyes, and to make my already full lips look even fuller. It was kind of scary.

We then head over to a changing room to get into our outfits. I was kind of looking forward to this part; I was going to have a great view of a bunch of very attractive women in various stages of undress.

After we were all in the outfits, Mike the radio guy got us all together and basically laid out the ground rules:

We were to be fun, attractive and smiling at all times. We had to remain in heels the entire time. If someone wanted to get a picture with one of us, we would do so. If some guy got to be too free with his hands, we were not to create a scene, but call Mike or one of the other guys over to take care of it. We were to hand out the calendars, but mostly our job was to attract people to the area where the radio station had set up it’s event—so be friendly.

So I was friendly. Somewhere in the process I realized that when a pretty girl makes conversation with a guy—and is just being friendly—it comes off as flirting. I thought back to Kat, the beer wench at the beer festival and realized how incredibly wrong I had interpreted her intentions. I was just like her, being friendly and just trying to get through a job.

I also figured out that I had something over the other girls—I know a thing or two about sports. As Jake I was constantly listening to sports radio, it gave me something to talk about with the guys who were trying to chat me up.

Five hours later my feet were killing me. I don’t know how real women wear heels all the time—also my face hurt from all the smiling I had to do.

Over all I survived my experience as a “Promo girl”—I only had to signal to Mike twice to get some guy with roaming hands away from me. I collected my money and caught the van back to Boston.

Jake

and Art, I'm definately up for a trip to the Inn.

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