I lost my voice after a Courtney Love show. It’s been days and now it’s Friday again. I read that I should keep my mouth shut and steam. I visualize my bleeding vocal chords, swollen, split and scabby. Even a whisper rocks them. And I think what if I never speak again?
I can only communicate via text or writing. It forces me to give away only what’s necessary. This is alien because I’m the girl who says whatever’s in my head even if it’s nothing or I don’t really believe it or it’s a joke. I wonder why people take me seriously and I think it’s because I overemphasize. Or because I lie.
I’m on the train home to face the weekend. I text my boyfriend and decide not to tell him that I’m worried I’ll be speechless forever. He thinks I’m a hypochondriac, and I guess I am but it’s not like I believe it. It’s just something to say. So I reveal what else is nagging me: “No booze or smokes.”
I pass the liquor store on my way home and I wonder if I can cheat. When Answers.com says that alcohol is bad for a healing throat, do they mean just, like, wine and beer? I think about that part in My Fair Lady where Eliza is at the racetrack in that shattering white dress that also looks like Grandmother’s candy dish and she tells them how her aunt died. It was influenza, which they treated with gin. “Mother’s milk to her.” And they ladled it down her throat. I always think of this whenever I’m sick.
What do they mean by “alcohol”? Please be more specific. I want to Google it because I’m sure there are healing properties. But for some reason I don’t and I end up at home. Dry and speechless.
On the day of the Courtney Love show, I can’t really believe it. I’m muted and sluggish and my boyfriend keeps asking me how excited I am that I’m finally going to see her, breath the same air as her. I should feel like my first time hearing Violet on my brand new Live Through This cassette. It was like finding God on the bottom bunk of my bed. I knew why I should live, why I shouldn’t die at 12.
But I don’t really feel anything. My morning coffee high has dissipated, leaving me somewhere on the bottom wanting a drink to bring me up but knowing that I can’t be too drunk for the show.
This feeling probably has something to do with the fact that I was drunk two nights before and dipped into the coke I bought for the show. Just a little taste to test it out. The next morning my brain was busted and bruising the insides of my skull. I was sofa-bound until bedtime.
Getting ready for Courtney, I’m distracted. Why don’t I have any booze in the house? Just empties. Why did that coke make my brain cells weep? It never used to. Maybe it’s mostly meth or speed. I draw my eyebrows in real black, and debate whether I should even bring it.
I find my boyfriend and extend the half-baggie before him.
“Do what you want,” he says. He won’t have any because he works in the morning.
“I can’t get into too much trouble, can I?”
“You think too much,” he says.
It’s only when we get to my best girl’s house that I start to come alive. We pre-game with beer and sangria, which is just a fruit Popsicle in white wine.
We meet our other pals in an alley by the venue. They smoke weed and I sip vodka from an Aquafina bottle.
When we get to the show a dude in baby barrettes whines to me that he got his hair pulled in the mosh pit during the opener. I find a washroom and don’t invite anyone. There’s coke on my nose when I get out. It’s always this way. If I didn’t bring it I’d regret it. I never want it until I want it.
Down on the floor it’s bitchy girls and bitchier gays. We push our way to the front as far as we can go. It’s steamy in there like a war or a fight. I chat up two gay midgets who want to get in front of me. I wonder why they bother, why they don’t just find a balcony.
Then the lights go down. There’s a rumble in the belly of the crowd and it’s fluttering and getting louder. A sliver of blonde pierces the darkness in front of us. We hold our breath and the hammering gets faster. The lights come up and a red grin punctures that familiar white face. She accelerates, full-throttle, into Plump. Smashes the wall between us.
“They say I’m plump, but I throw up all the time.” There she is in black and white, foot propped up on the monitor and hair a tornado. “Your milk’s in my mouth.” We scream back at her: “IT MAKES ME SICK.”
I’m screaming and crying. Is this a religious experience? Or is it just the coke. Maybe that’s what was really goin’ down with all those 13-year-olds in the swingin’ ‘60s when the Beatles played Can’t Buy Me Love. I see myself in a tight sweater, sobbing, the back of my hand against my fever forehead, mouth a round oooooh and then uttering a paralyzing Fab Four first name.
I scream every lyric to every one of her 20 songs. She throws roses but I don’t catch a bone. A pixie in black eyeliner offers me a petal.
After the show we’re at a bar and it’s empty because it’s Monday and this is Vancouver. I order two shots and two beers and we’re howling because we just saw Courtney Love and YOU didn’t.
I escape to the co-ed washroom because I’ve got one line left. I gingerly empty the baggie onto the back of a toilet and vacuum the contents with my nose. I rub the delinquent remains on my teeth, which I’m not supposed to do.
I wash my hands and pose in the mirror for a bit. Vogue. I reapply a smear of waxy purple lipstick. Then Ladies Night comes on and everything changes.
You know when that bass line begins to strut and it’s mmmm oh yeah, what a night. I’m a glittering cliché in roller skates under disco lights. “Romantic lady, single baby, sophisticated mama, come on you disco lady…” And I’m all arms and snaps and wrist-flicks. And just when I’m about to peak, um, oh, yeahhhhhhhhhhhh…
Some guy busts in.
“Oh my GOD, were you just dancing?”
I bite my lip, I’m really cute. “Mmmmaybe…”
“You totally were. That’s SO AWESOME!”
I grin with all my teeth, tell him I can’t help it.
He’s really happy for me and confesses he doesn’t have the balls to ever dance alone. I tell him he should try it. He asks if he’ll get more girls that way. Then six babes in heels and tights crash our party. “Georgie, babyyyyy.” His posse.
I rejoin my crew and pound my drinks because they’re getting cold. When the stud and his chickens emerge after an hour, our waiter tells us that they left a snowstorm behind. “You could probably scrape together a line.” I laugh, oh you. And then I go hunting for it because by this time I’m descending.
I’m feeling sideways and it’s like when I lose my ID or my phone and I circle the room, over and over, repeating the same words over and over. And all the time it’s in my bra or my pocket but I’d already looked there a thousand times.
I’m not sure how many times I check each stall but it’s more than once. I run my grubby finger back and forth back and forth the counter, in and around the sinks.
Then I realize: Oh, he was joking.