Luxury is a hard–almost impossible–thing to come by in the city of New York. In order to get it, one must be willing to pay. And oh how Jolie was willing to pay. Anything to get out of her apartment for just one night, where the Dominicanos nightly karaoke’d and/or seemed to be rolling bowling balls across the floor. There was no price that could be paid for peace. Unless, that is, she was willing to use her latest lottery winnings to pay for a hotel. Jolie was always playing the lottery, and often won enough random smatterings of amounts to pull together quite a nice bank account for herself. As one of the few people with money actually willing to share it, Jolie decided to plan her escape from her own apartment on the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which strangely, fell on a Tuesday rather than a Monday. That being said, most people still had to work and therefore couldn’t truly enjoy L’Hotel Bourgeois with her the way she wanted. That is, except her friend, Cammy. No one could ever figure out what Cammy was supposed to be a diminutive of, but eventually the nickname that stemmed from it was Cameo, as Cammy’s appearances in public were usually short-lived due to her drunkenness. She was good to have around when your heart was set on being entertained for an evening–anything else tended to turn too dark. However, for a night at a hotel with a rooftop pool, twenty-four hour access to a Tesla and spa services, Cameo was your girl–no better companion.
So it was that Jolie extended the offer to her to delight in a bit of staycation luxury, while most other New York denizens were still confined to their desks or had already trickled out to their respective vacation nexuses. Cameo had no ties to anyone other than herself, Jolie one of her few non-acquaintance friends. Acquaintances that revolved through her life as gleefully and carefreely as Kevin McCallister through the doors of the Plaza Hotel. She only permitted Jolie to get a little closer than others because, well, everyone needs at least one friend in her life, lest she turn completely batshit.
Plus, Jolie didn’t ever seem to judge her as harshly as others for being an unemployed fuck-up. She held down random jobs here and there (bar back, cleaning woman, etc.), but was always ultimately fired. No one really got her “sense of humor,” she would always claim. But Jolie was twisted enough to appreciate it. After all, she had just ended a relationship with a Peruvian who openly admitted to enjoying consuming chicken heart soup.
To jumpstart the feeling of being decadent, Jolie ordered them a car to take them from her apartment (which Cameo didn’t live very far from) to the hotel, located directly in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, with other sweeping views of the city including the Freedom Tower or whatever they’re calling it these days.
The driver, plainly stoned, was having trouble navigating the best way to get there, torn between the sight of the traffic on the BQE and the daunting prospect of taking the side streets. “Which way do you want to take?” he finally asked, deferring to the backseat.
“Don’t listen to me, I’m bad luck,” Jolie replied. And with that, the entire tone of the rest of their journey was set, starting from their arrival at the check-in desk, at which time the attendant struggled to find Jolie’s reservation, spelling her last name, Riordan, multiple different ways until he got just the right permutation. Jolie, trying to take it in stride, was immediately forced to let any sense of good-naturedness wash away upon being informed that the rooftop–and the pool it contained–was currently closed for renovations. “There’s a pop-up pool just down the way though,” the attendant added without shame or any sense of true remorse.
“A pop-up pool? What the fuck is a pop-up pool?” Jolie turned in askance of Cameo.
She shrugged. “It’s just like a public pool with a lot of ghettotos milling around and visible piss in it because no amount of chlorine can ever cleanse what goes on in there.”
Jolie rolled her eyes. “This isn’t happening.” With that, she wheeled her suitcase (which she had spent about an hour packing in spite of the short stay–“I wanted to have options”) in a huff toward the elevator, Cameo following behind with her oversized purse serving as her sole piece of luggage.
In the room, which was merely adequate, Jolie’s anger escalated. “The only reason to come here for Fourth of July was to take a fucking dip. Now what? We just sit in this hotel watching bad cable?”
Cameo dropped her bag on the ground and gazed out the window, a seeming soundproof glass pane blocking out all the noise of the city below them. “At least you’ll be able to sleep,” she attempted, brushing away an eyelash from one of dark circles.
“This was a huge waste of money. This is what I get for trying to live ‘beyond my class.’ The universe just wants me to be stuck down at heel with the rest of the dregs for some reason.”
Cameo turned back toward her. “Why don’t we get a facial from the spa or something?”
Jolie looked mildly placated by this prospect. “Well, I guess there’s nothing else to do.” So she picked up the menu from the tabletop, briefly relished the prospect of being given an hour deep tissue massage and then caught the fine print at the bottom: *****Spa opening December 2017******
“Seriously, what hotel is this?”
“L’Hotel Bourgeois,” Cameo responded, hopelessly literal.
Jolie sighed. “I feel like I should just ask for a refund.”
“No. We’re committing to this. There’s fuck-all else to do at this point anyway.”
Jolie ceded, “True.”
“Maybe we should try the pop-up pool after all,” Cameo suggested.
Within minutes, Jolie was dressed in cutoff shorts and a bright red one-piece that read: BAE WATCH. Cameo, instead, took the Wednesday Addams approach with some sort of striped getup that covered most of her body. Side by side in the elevator, they looked admittedly incongruous next to a family and an errant businessman.
The looks they got while walking toward the pop-up pool weren’t much more inviting either, especially when, upon infiltrating the scene, a black woman wrangling her five-year-old son bulldozed into Jolie while so doing. The shrieks and screams of children only intensified the feelings of rage mounting inside of Jolie, Cameo all the while remaining nonplussed. She must have taken a fuck ton of Xanax before meeting me, Jolie realized. Where was Jolie’s Xanax to get her through this non-stop barrage of irritating events all conspiring to take away the one thing she wanted?: hedonism.
Drinking in the scene of poverty and desperation as it can pertain only to public pools in New York during the summer, Jolie announced, “Let’s find a bar.”
Back in their room, both had changed out of their bathing suits and into something more “camera-ready.” For Jolie, this meant a black crushed velvet dress with spaghetti straps. For Cameo, it meant a shimmering green tube top and pink Day-Glo leggings. It was only when they had finished dressing that they suddenly realized they still had nowhere to go.
“Well what’s around here?” queried Jolie, ever the type to ask questions without wanting to find the answers herself. In this way, Cameo was again a theoretically ideal friend match for this “trip,” always eager to find information and dive into the abyss of the internet. In the meantime, Jolie was looking forward to at least using the promised Tesla service that would ferry them to any destination of their choosing within a five-mile radius. It was, apart from the alleged pool, one of the draws of her booking the room.
And so, once Cameo had decided upon an Italian restaurant for their unwittingly romantic getaway together (so often, female friendship tends to offer more romance than any rapport a woman can try to sustain with a man), they were down in the lobby once more. Alas, upon requesting use of the Tesla, the concierge informed them that the driver had just stepped out to take his hour break. Decadence, foiled again.
At this point convinced that the universe had no one else to target today, Jolie commented, “I’m afraid to go to this restaurant. I don’t know if I can handle the inevitable letdown.”
Cameo assured, “Come on, it’s Italian food, we can’t go wrong.” Consistently, the famous last words.
So it was that they once again took a “normal” car to get to Lo Schiaffo, an establishment that, as was soon made evident, turned out to be more sports bar than fine Italian dining experience. Tragically, there were few other enticing options on the block, a gas station, a Modell’s and a P.C. Richard & Son surrounding them like some sort of commercially blasé landlocking. The markedly short bartender greeted them with a smile, the female wrestling tableau on the screen behind him a slight distraction from his obligatory courtesy.
“Well, I need a drink,” Jolie expressed with resignation in her voice.
“Are you sure? We can try going somewhere else?”
“There will be nowhere else, this whole attempt is cancelled. Let me just get blackout wasted to forget how much money I’ve wasted.”
Feeling a similar temptation–albeit not quite as pronounced considering she didn’t spend the same amount of money to achieve sumptuousness–Cameo consented to planting themselves at the bar. Neither could remember getting back to the hotel, one of life’s many unexplained mysteries being the drunkard on autopilot.
Gathering up their possessions before the noon checkout time, Cameo took one final appraising look around the room and remarked, “I think we had a good time here all in all.”
Jolie guffawed. She would not be requesting Cameo’s presence on her next “sojourn,” her oblivion almost more annoying than the absurd lack of amenities. As they disembarked from the elevator, a basket of fruit, mainly consisting of crisp green apples (with green bananas peppered in) beckoned to them.
“So this is the fuckin’ continental breakfast, huh? Isn’t that just the cherry on top?” Jolie laughed to herself more out of anguish than delight as she grabbed one and bit with gusto into it.
“I think you mean the apple on top,” Cameo concluded.