The summer before my senior year of college I spent a month at a sublet in Brooklyn Heights on Pineapple Street. Right across the street was the St. George Hotel, which provided cheap rooms to the indigent. There was a subway entrance in the lobby and old black men sat outside on lawn furniture basking in the sun. There was also a strip club in the basement, called, I believe, 'Club Wildfyre.' My girlfriend had moved into the apartment at the beginning of the summer but I went to New Orleans to live with a friend. I visited her on the way south and she asked me to stay but I told her no. 'You won't respect me if I don't go have this adventure,' I said. There I was hit by the thunderbolt and running away from it. Not running exactly...I was 21 and there was so much time, time to do everything.
I didn't have a phone in the former slaves quarters of the French Quarter apartment. So I called her from payphones on the street late at night, often so drunk that I slumped on the ground, the receiver cool on my ear.
One night before I made it back north, she decided to visit the strip club. Feeling like this wasn't a good idea for a woman, She dressed as a man, going so far as to bind her breasts and ink a mustache on her upper lip. The disguise worked. She shared drinks with the lowlifes in the club and even stuffed dollar bills down the g-strings of the dancers. Before she went out, she took mirror photos in her apartment. The photos showed a really pretty girl in a tuxedo jacket with a black smear across her upper lip. Sarah had curves that no binding could hide and I don't know how it fooled anyone but people see what they're programmed to see and boldness can take you a long a way (and she had plenty of that). Ah, Sarah, the memory makes me miss you.