Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went to Coney Island. It was overcast, the sky looked like it was pregnant with skim milk, but we were feeling intrepid and so we went anyway.
I always like the subway ride to Coney Island, because the train comes out of its hole beneath the ground, like a worm trying something new, and flies above the borough for most of the journey. It becomes an elevated train, though it doesn’t act pretentious.
When it first pops out of the ground, you can see, on your right, the ocean and the Marlon Brando-ish docks; on the left, you can see, dominating the Brooklyn skyline, the Williamsburg Bank building, which is the most obviously phallic building I’ve ever seen. It’s so penislike it’s embarrassing. Some clever lesbian Internet gal in Park Slope—a Brooklyn neighborhood with a healthy Sapphic population—should design a Williamsburg Bank dildo, market it over the Web and make a fortune, since all New York-themed trinkets are in demand.
I have to say, the eye is always drawn to this bank-penis. Living in Brooklyn is like being in a locker room with Shaquille O’Neal. You can’t help but stare.
Anyway, we took the wormlike subway to Avenue X—a very cool name for an avenue and where we had to transfer to a bus. And it’s fitting that I should have just used the word “worm” to describe the subway, because on the bus was this wonderful gal named Angelica, whom I once witnessed eating worms at the Coney Island Freak Show.
She’s a very pretty young lady, who, in addition to having a courageous palate, is heavily tattooed. She’s also well-pierced. Her face and nose have numerous silver studs, and her eyebrows have been shaved and replaced with a row of holes that must house piercings, though yesterday these holes were empty.
When we got off the bus, I introduced myself and my girlfriend to Angelica, and we told her that we had seen her show a few months ago. She was exceedingly friendly and sweet, and allowed me to take her picture. I complimented her on the worm business, and she said, with some embarrassment, that’s what she does for “family shows,” but for adult shows, she can be more outrageous. “I do fire tricks,” she said. “I shoot fire from my crotch. You can’t do that in a family show.”
She also performs in a burlesque show on Friday nights. “I’m in a straitjacket,” she said, describing her act, “and as I struggle to get out of it, my skirt comes off, then my bra. And then everything is off, except for the pasties and a G-string.”
I know quite a few girls in the burlesque world and coming up with new ways to strip is not easy, so I really admired the sound of this straight-jacket routine.
We then said goodbye to Angelica, and made our way to the boardwalk. We strolled from Coney Island to Brighton Beach, which is about a 15-minute walk. The whole Brooklyn coast is beautiful, but something has gone wrong in New York. Coney Island/Brighton Beach really should be our Santa Monica or Rio or Miami. Instead it’s rather worn out and tired, though it’s also undeniably charming; it has the beauty of misspent grandeur.
On the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, we went to a Russian restaurant, which is like saying we went to a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Brighton Beach is more Russian than American, which is wonderful. For the price of a subway ride, you can go to a foreign country.
At Tatiana, the menu was in English and Russian, though in the past in Brighton Beach, when mistaken for a Russian, I’ve been given menus that don’t have English. But the waiter pegged my girlfriend and me as tourists, so we got the bilingual bill of fare. All around us people were speaking the language of Tolstoy, and on the boardwalk, ancient Russians staggered by, as if Tarkovsky had filmed The Night of the Living Dead. We ordered the smoked fish plate and fried potatoes. The food was delicious and plentiful. The fish plate had two eggs with salmon caviar, and four pieces each of salmon, sturgeon, butterfish and something called semga. When the waiter served us, I said to him, “What kind of fish is smegma?” I hadn’t intended to be vulgar, but it came out that way, a kind of momentary Tourettes. Luckily, he didn’t understand me; his English was limited. We never found out what semga is, but it looks like char.
After our feast, we went into the ocean. We didn’t bring our bathing suits because of the overcast sky, but now it was sunny out. I swam in my boxer shorts and my girlfriend wore her panties and bra. We felt self-conscious, but, of course, nobody looked at us. The water was delightful.
We dried off with a windbreaker I had in my backpack. Then I wrapped my jacket around my waist and slipped off my wet underwear and pulled on my dry shorts. I nearly exposed my own little Williamsburg Bank when the jacket slipped, but disaster was averted. Not that anybody would have noticed. I’m no Shaquille O’Neal, if you know what I mean.