It’s been raining most of the day. I’ve been sick with a cold and haven’t left the apartment since Saturday night when I went to Baby’s All Right and saw Castle Rat.
They were great.
I only went out that night because I had a sore throat and I knew sickness was coming down the pike. The past few days I’ve been living off food I got last week from Trader Joe’s. I’m broke from having just bought plane tickets to Paris in November. And I’ve been seriously considering doing something marginally legal for money. Just one of those things NYC writers go through, I’m sure.
So I wasn’t going to go out tonight in the rain. Only I had something to do tonight. I’ve been feeling out storytelling in the city. It’s intimidating. This is the city where people do this on a professional level. Stand up comics and people with MFAs in creative non-fiction. These people are up on stage on a regular basis with things to say in creative ways. Coming from Tucson, I really question whether I have the chops.
I heard about One Up! last month when I was at an open mic storytelling event at Duplex on Christopher in the Village (just blocks away from a certain apartment I used to frequent). It’s held at the Red Room at KGB Bar on the LES. The hostess tells a story and then everyone tries to one up the last story with a five minute story of their own. The winner gets $200. That’s a lot in storytelling. Intimidating AF.
I went last month. The theme was Naked and I told a story about finding out I’d accidentally slept with someone last August who happened to be the then boyfriend of a girl I met this July while dancing at C’mon Everybody. How coincidences like that happen, I don’t know. It was a good story but I went first because I was scared. I did not win.
This month’s theme was Dressed Up. The hostess asked people to dress in costume. I dressed as Parker Posey in The House Of Yes.
Pink pillbox hat, red lipstick, South Sea pearls and a black dress.
And I came with a story. I almost didn’t because of the rain, but when I don’t have the confidence to do something, Michael manages to imbue me with it with words of encouragement. Always.
Last month there were lots of people. But this month, I guess because of the rain, there weren’t. The hostess was worried. I was worried for her. I really like her and I want her to do well. So I went up to her at the bar before the show and offered to do a second story if she needed to fill time. I didn’t have a second story prepared for a five minute competition, but I did have another story about the dress I’d worn in the first story.
She was cool with the idea. It had come from a place of being useful and she understood that.
Show starts, she goes up and tells a story. Oh, nobody really wore a costume other than the two of us. I go up first and tell the story of the night I lost my virginity after a dress up dance in high school. I get one upped. Five storytellers go. And then nothing. The guy who’s currently in contention to win has won before. Not because he’s good, he’s just kind of starved for attention. Fat boy who grew up and lost the weight but not the complex. I’m the opposite. I grew up beautiful and still act like I am.
So I go up again. I tell the story about living in Puerto Vallarta and having my dress come off on my 15th birthday.
He asked if he could top it. He didn’t. I won. $200.
He got butthurt. So did another storyteller. They tried to ice me out. But I dried my tears with $1 bills. Two hundred of them to be exact.
The funniest thing happened to me on the way out. This older guy who’d come to the show with the butthurt girl complimented me on my costume. He said he was “in the theater.” And he liked my style. We talked about Terrence McNally. I told him I was new to the city. And he looked blown away. The next thing he said was cryptic at the time. He told me I’d need a Ph.D in “this.” “This” was a him motioning with his hand to shield his eyes. “This” was him telling me not to give a shit about other people’s damage. “This” was an angel delivering a message I badly needed to hear.
By the end of the night, I had heard from friends who believed in me from here to Timbuktu. I don’t get that often, but tonight I did. And now I’m not just Veneranda Aguirre, writer and storyteller. Now I am Veneranda Aguirre, writer and prize winning storyteller. In NYC, baby. I’m holding my own.
Dentist again on the UES. Goddamn it’s cold and windy. I got an asthma attack from the cold and couldn’t complete my dental work because I was coughing. And my feet hurt so much that I could barely walk. I walked to the dentist with 200 $1 bills that were supposed to tide me over until Monday. Suddenly that marginally legal work is starting to look a lot more appealing when you can’t afford an Uber. The indignities of being poor will do that you. I keep envisioning having a massive anxiety attack in an inappropriate place.
Class was ok. I wrote a parody sketch of Say Yes To The Dress-Divorce Edition in which the “bride” wants a dream divorce outfit to channel Alexis Colby Carrington. It was ok. Can you tell how I feel about my comedy writing?
I’m dirt poor but I have priorities. I spent $50 on edibles from a food truck on Eighth. They didn’t do shit, so I learned my lesson. But they were cute.
And now I’m here at Union Pool, taking a quick break from dancing with my boy Alfie. Talk about angels. He’s the real deal. It’s 2:15 a.m. and it might as well be 10 a.m. Foot pain be damned. Poverty be damned. Unfunny comedy writing be damned. I’m Veneranda Aguirre, prize motherfucking winning storyteller. And I have some dancing to do…at Metropolitan Bar just down the street…and then The Rosemont.