by JoAnna Novak
I was living with this other model, Cassie, in an infested apartment. Sometimes I took pills before going to sleep so I wouldn’t feel the bugs on my skin. Sometimes I saw them flitting around like black glitter. They lived in the cushions and the rug, but the agency wouldn’t order an exterminator and our landlord, Steve, said it was a fact of life, like, suck it up, babe. At first, I was calling my boyfriend and telling him a hundred things about the bugs and riding my bike everywhere and the new clubs and the way the sun practically melted the sky and how self-sufficient I was feeling and how I wanted to write a book about the whole scene and I even read him some of the pieces about our old friends who got me a little fucked up back when we were still in New York with the roofees and, long story short, now I black out after two drinks, but the more I stayed the less we spoke until, finally, he told me I was shallower than even he had expected. I wasn’t shallow. I was nothing but thankful. In the end, I got results from our relationship: He was a model, too, and he’d taught me the best ab exercises ever.
In Miami, my hair poured down my back and my skin thrived. I began to feel like all the talk in the world was toxic. During the day, I spied on crews filming pornos in abandoned luxury condos with a guy in a union, a pipe fitter I’d met at Bed, or I peeled through lemon water while reading Jane Austen on the elliptical machine.
One day I left the gym and my bike was gone. It was a cheap bike, but I’d decorated it with a white basket and a pink bell. The next day I bought a new bike: I still had to get to the gym and the grocery store and the salad place, where they’d build me a salad to my exact specifications for six bucks. I maxed out on mixed greens and spinach, apples and artichokes, red peppers, cucumber, and tomato doused in balsamic vinegar. Two weeks later, the second bike disappeared. Even with a lock, anything could be stolen. I cried all the way home and banged on Steve’s door. He was as good as an older brother to me, even though he did try to sleep with all the other models. He patted my head and held a tissue to my nose and told me to blow. He was six five.
“Steve,” I said, “what am I going to do?”
“Aw, baby,” he said, “we’re going to have the sweetest night.” On Steve’s television, girls in day-glo bikinis fawned over a team of surfers. “You’ve had my apple martinis, right?”
It was his friend’s birthday and Steve invited Cassie and me out with them. The four of us arrived at a fancy strip club already drunk. Steve paid me to drink more things and I did. He paid Cassie to let the strippers give her a lap dance and she said no problem—she even made out with the girls, there was tongue and sucking and really intense eye contact. There were tits and cunts covered in spangles. Everyone’s stomach looked ravaged up close. Steve paid me to let the girls kiss my face and my ears and my hair. It was a hundred dollars that I didn’t have to begin with. Everything smelled like honeysuckle and vodka.
In the middle of the night, Steve’s friend said, “Let’s go to Fisher Island.”
And then we ferried to Fisher Island where his friend’s other house was, with the wife and kids sleeping upstairs and a hot tub and a pool and a cabana. It never stopped sweltering. We drank tequila by the pool, saying no way, neither of us girls would skinny dip until eventually it seemed like it could be worth two hundred dollars to dive in and take our underwear off underwater. And then we were in the pool and the night sky fell around us like a partition and the moon bruised the water and we left our underpants at the bottom of the pool and we ran out and our bodies were incandescent, moonlit, and we slipped into the hot tub and then was it worth a few hundred dollars to make out? Yeah, totally, we were making out, Cassie and I, then Steve’s friend, the three of us, lots of tongue, sucking each other’s faces off and Steve just stood there watching and then and then and then it was the jets, and I’ve always been like, whatever, it’s no big deal. My family still has a hot tub in the basement. And these guys—guys just can’t stand it, they think getting a girl off is such a big deal—these guys couldn’t believe it and they were like show us, we want to see you girls come and Cassie and I whispered like it wasn’t going to happen, we “talked” about it and “decided” it was totally worth the money and I told her, look, we’ll fake it, these guys are trashed no one can tell, so we were like okay, fine and we each went to a jet and there was a lot of moaning and arching and bucking and hands over your head, ladies, Steve yelled, and Cassie couldn’t believe I faked, she said later, no way, and I told her, yeah, are you kidding me? No way I was going to derive any pleasure out of that situation with two guys there, and she was like: Fuck. Me. I totally came. And, yeah, my fake orgasm face was so much hotter than her actual orgasm face when the jets were getting her going and, whatever, it takes like three minutes, it’s not a big deal, it’s nothing special, it’s a hot tub, there’s jets, you could have like ten orgasms in an hour.