This is short story inspired by a seemingly mundane object, my small squish-able earplugs. I wear them everywhere; to study, to work, and even to the club. As portrayed below…
I roll into the club on Drag Night with my yellow backpack on, white sneaks, and chunky black frames like straight out of the undergrad days. The only glam things about me are my hair and makeup. Even with my wing tips sharp as hell, I still have to convince the bouncer I am here to dance, not study.
After paying my $5 cover, I am told I have to leave my backpack in coat check. “No problem,” I say inaudibly to the security guard over the poppy electric music. And peeling off my pack, I make sure to grab the essentials – phone, credit card, and my trusty tube of disposable earplugs.
Migrating over to the bar, I smile at the woman serving drinks. She has wild, kinky hair and smooth, cocoa butter skin. Just my type, I think, and I blush to myself. I order a vodka soda and slowly sip at the tart, fizzy drink, taking in the scene around me. Vivacious, pink-haired Queens stride back and forth in their 4-inch heels, padded hips swaying. Two Kings walk past, holding each other by the arm, dark mascara flashing under the rainbow lights. I settle into my chair and cross my sneakers, one over the other; no one will judge me or my outfit here.
I hear a voice behind me. It’s the bartender. She is saying something, but I cannot make it out.
“What?” I yell, cupping my hand to my ear.
“I like your hair!” She says, gesturing to my short, bleach blonde crop cut.
“Thanks, you too!” I shout, “I love your whole…vibe!” I wave my hand up and down and nod dorkily.
“What?!” Now she cups her hand to her ear.
“I LOVE YOUR VIBE!” I scream, just as the song playing lulls into instrumental break.
“Oh! Hehe..” She giggles awkwardly, and then rushes over to another patron who has been flagging her down.
Oh well, I think to myself. My game is a bit off, but that’s Ok. The music’s too loud for a real conversation, anyway. This is when I decide to pop my earplugs in and migrate toward the dance floor. Good timing, too, because Beyonce’s “Yonce” has just come on, and my feet automatically pound the ground in time with each beat. I feel the liquor hit my bloodstream and start popping and grinding to the rhythm. Others join in on the dance, some in groups and others riding solo just like me. I let the the vibrations of the music course throughout my body.
One hit follows another, from Gaga’s “Paparazzi” to a remixed version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” I move in time to each one, sipping slowly on my drink, now watered down but I don’t care. With my plugs in, I’m able to hear the undercuts of each song, the “oohs” and “aahs” of the background vocals. Details that I know would be drowned out by the buzzing of the speakers blasting behind me.
Before I know it, it’s closing time. I’ve danced and sweat so much, I no longer feel drunk. In fact, my brain is crystal clear and flooded with endorphins. I grab my backpack from the front and start heading home, bouncing along to the melodies from earlier. The good vibes follow me in waves.
And the best part is, I don’t even have a headache.