Maybe Lorna had been cursed from the outset in the looks department with a name like Lorna. Maybe it was to be in the cards that her aesthetic had to match her moniker. And that aesthetic consisted of light brown hair that hit just below the shoulders, bangs that tended to accent her jowel-like cheeks and a sartorial style that, in spite of being all black everything, was never slimming. If you asked her mother, Mildred, she would have shrugged and said she had no idea what you were talking about, that Lorna was a perfectly normal name. Look at Lorna Hopper. Maybe one of the best Playmates of the Year. In any case, most were not of the same belief as Lorna’s mother in thinking the name was, well, “flattering.”
It didn’t help that, in elementary school, Lorna had to get glasses for her near-sightedness. She was already too bookish for her own good, and her steady diet of Nick at Nite’s Block Party Summer had prompted her to choose cat-eye frames inspired by some nominal character on an episode of Bewitched. Her mother, already out of touch with what would prompt kids to make fun of a girl as she was 41 years old at the time Lorna entered fifth grade, sanctioned her decision to get the frames, only to find Lorna storming through the door the next day with the glasses off to say, “I don’t want to wear glasses anymore!” And with that, she stormed up the stairs to her room, never to put the specs on again no matter how much Mildred tried to persuade her to, that she was only causing further damage to her eyes this way. But Lorna, precocious as she was, used the opposing logic, “I’d rather have damaged eyes than a damaged reputation.” And with that, there was nothing more to be said.
It wasn’t until Lorna was coming to the end of her high school career that she decided to pick up the glasses again, which had been collecting dust on her dresser ever since that traumatic elementary school experience of being made fun of for wearing them. But something had happened to her in the years between. She had learned how to stop letting the external opinions of others affect the internal. She had learned to disappear into the melody of a song and the alternate world the lyrics provided. She had built up a record collection so large and esoteric, it would almost impress Paul Mawhinney. And she had spent so much time practicing transitions, flips and tailor-made segues that she had secured a DJ residency at one of the few bars in Amherst that saw the value of paying for music of a custom nature to be played.
It was there and only there that she felt attractive, got her first taste of what it was like to be desired. No one viewed her as the “scholarly” type or the “shy girl.” She was a god, respected and lauded. Her talent for culling from the 60s the crème de la crème of every genre–garage, Motown, British Invasion, folk–had guys from all corners of Massachusetts lined up to enjoy her selections. And once she knew how to draw in a crowd, she used her power of mysteriousness and ingenious curation to cherry pick whoever she wanted from the lot of them to go home with. Usually, they were music aficionados who secretly wanted to one-up her with their own knowledge pre- and post-coitus. They never did. And oh how that made them want her all the more. But she never allowed herself to repeat the same dick. Just like you don’t repeat the same song.
When the time came for Lorna to graduate from high school, she had already secured multiple offers from other DJs and bartenders based in New York City to take up a residency elsewhere. And, well, since she needed all the extra cash and free drinks she could finagle if she was going to get through college with the douche bags at NYU, she took on multiple of said job opportunities.
If she thought her vag was getting a workout in Amherst, she was suddenly faced with the realization that it was only getting a light stretching at best compared to what was to befall her in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, where all the boys went crazy for a girl who knew how to speak to their souls with a song. Ugly or not, no one noticed. And behind those cat-eye glasses, Lorna was stronger and more self-assured than ever. She would hardly be able to recognize the gawky, apologetic version of herself from those elementary and junior high school days if they were to be introduced again. Her mother, on the other hand, seemed to yearn for those days to return. For ever since Lorna had retreated into music, they had grown apart. Or was that the natural way it was supposed to go? Once your child reaches adolescence she’s required to detach from you, forever let go of the hold you tried to sustain on her. Mildred had to tell herself this was the case, for she couldn’t deal with the persistent emotional letdowns of trying to break through the fortress Lorna had created around herself through those monstrous stacks of records. Sometimes, it was all she could do not to go into her room while she was out at gigs and sideswipe at everything to make all those stacks tumble to the ground, hopefully shattering some vinyl in the process. Mildred was too soft-spoken for that though, and knew that part of the reason Lorna was so damaged–and so physically unkempt–was her doing. She hadn’t ever fully recovered from the absconding of Lorna’s father, Ansel, who found it most convenient to leave her just months after Lorna was born, ostensibly comprehending that having a child was a lifelong commitment more shackling even than marriage (which they never got around to). And since they never bothered to make their love legal, it was all the easier for Ansel to flee. She never heard from him again, nor did she try to find him after discovering his body gone from the bed one morning and his things removed from the bureau. It only took a split second to process what had happened, as you’ll probably find out for yourself if such a thing ever happens to you.
From that day on, all Mildred could do was focus on the bare minimum when it came to raising Lorna, thoughts of her abandonment and rejection taking up all the other free space in her mind apart from keeping Lorna clothed, sheltered and fed. So maybe she was to blame for Lorna’s added dowdiness. Maybe had she taught her some fundamentals of beauty and carriage, she wouldn’t have lost Lorna to the turntables. But lost to them she was. And one night, in one of the peak examples of being unable to beat off music-loving men with a stick, she ended up having sex on the equipment and ruining it. That was the last time she had sex, come to think of it. Without her siren songs, she had no allure. It was just as well. She was wrapping up her degree in Dramatic Writing and would soon sell a play called The Unattractive Female DJ Who Got A Lot of Dick, with each scene featuring a song she had sex with one of her conquests to (she DJ’d in the bedroom most especially). Her personal favorite recollection was banging a stockbroker who had given up on his dream of being a painter to The Dimensions’ “She’s Boss.” Doubtlessly, the overall tone of the play was one of garage rock, that’s what the boys liked best, after all.
Thinking of it now, from her vantage point of newfound celibacy, Lorna wondered if she would ever pour all of her money into such an enterprise as hollow as attracting men. To her chagrin, she found herself opening a nightclub years later on the miraculous financial boon of her Dramatic Writing degree. It was in Ibiza Town, just at that point in between Heart and Pacha. Because she found that male interest was more important to her than intellectualizing on the page how hideous she was on the outside. Convincing herself otherwise by accruing as many one-night stands as possible. If you had this much sex, surely you couldn’t be ugly. It would defy all logic.