L.A. is burning again. The fire seems to be cascading down from the hills as though God just got a new flamethrower he’s excited about testing out. I’m on the street alone, but I’m not. And just as I think one of the flames might envelop me, I’m plucked up by Dalton Gomez leading me up another hill with Ariana Grande. Even throughout the commotion, I’m a bit shocked that they don’t have a car. Instead, we’re hiking up what now seems to be a San Francisco-style mountain of a road before getting to the end of it, where we climb up a ledge with an imposing automatic gate. I can only assume this is Ariana’s castle, and they’ve taken me here as one of the anointed to be hidden and spared from the Big Fire that might finally burn all of Los Angeles. The problem is, when Dalton and I climb under the small crack that’s been left opened by the gate (presumably at Ariana’s hand, using some remote control from the comfort of the bubble bath she’s now found herself in after her servant fairies got a hold of her the instant she set foot on the property), my head gets wedged in between it.
Meanwhile, Dalton is safely on the other side. He stares at me incredulously. He can’t believe my head is that big, I imagine. But it is, always has been. And as he briefly watches the flames start to overtake me, he runs inside, toward the fortress of protection that Ariana can provide until her private team of firefighters comes to mitigate the destruction. Of course, it’s too late for me, and I can feel my flesh being seared off. But while I wait for Mother Nature to have her way with me, I think of another time when my head was stuck. I was around five years old, sitting on some steps in front of a racquetball court at a gym called Club Svelte, and waiting for my mother to finish up with her regimen.
I was too young to know at the time, but she was busy on the elliptical trainer, apparently so obsessed with burning the fat from the chocolate mousse cake she had eaten the previous night at a client dinner that she got carried away with the amount of time she was spending on the machine, leaving me ample opportunity to grow bored and meander. Specifically walking up toward the back of the steps, carpeted in purple (the horror), which featured a backing that consisted of bars (painted green, another horror). Narrowly spaced bars, I soon found out, as I started treating it like my own personal jungle gym to muck about on and crawl in and out of.
Except, just as the case was with Ariana Grande’s gate, I couldn’t get my head all the way through when I tried to slip my body between a space in the bars. Sure, my carapace was the appropriate size to do it (thank god, for I don’t think I could have handled having a fat cuerpo and cabeza), but my head. My fucking head. I should have known then that it was foreshadowing for the fact that it would be the death of me. That’s why there’s that cliche warning, “Your head is too big.” But I never thought it was in terms of pride and a self-inflated ego. Otherwise, wouldn’t I have made it as a star? Oh well, I’ll never know now.
I was stuck in between those bars for what felt like hours, but was probably roughly twenty minutes. No one passed by until then. And when the attractive trainer who did happen upon me tried to ask me if I needed help, I was too embarrassed to admit that was, indeed, the situation, assuring him I was just “playing” and that everything was fine. Mercifully, he could see through my charade, and did his best to make me feel like I was doing him a favor by casually inquiring if he could test how much weight he could lift by pushing me back through the other side. I “coolly” consented, and he rescued me with as much dignity as he could bestow upon someone in such a state.
Unfortunately for him, my mother chose that moment to show up and look alive regarding her parental duties. “What the hell are you doing?” she screamed at him. “Get your hands off my daughter.” The humiliation was complete. Here this hot guy was saving me, the damsel in distress, and my mother had to swoop in and completely ruin the Lolita moment. I could feel myself turning red. And I don’t know if it was all the blood simultaneously rushing back to and then draining from my head again, but I passed out. When I came to, I was still on the steps, now surrounded by seemingly every employee at “the club.” I didn’t possibly think it could get more demeaning until I looked down and saw that I had pissed myself. So that was what the strange, gross wet sensation was.
I felt frozen in place. As though moving would bring on a worse fate than simply lying there and letting people gawk at me. Why wasn’t someone doing something? Why had I indulged myself in the belief that I could play freely like the other children with a head my size? Finally, unable to bear their stares any longer, I started to get up, at which point my mother seemed to shake herself out of her trance in order to guide me away from the throng and into the women’s locker room, where she instructed me to splash cold water on my face while she supervised. The icy temperature did nothing to numb the residual shame that was now like a film all over my body.
In the car, I told my mother I never wanted to go to Club Svelte again. Yet here and now, on the outside looking in of Ariana Grande’s sequestered mansion, it was as though I was right back there all over again. Condemned to burn in effigy between the bars with no one to help me before it was too late. In Club Svelte’s case, the “too late” came in the form of preventing the trauma. In Grande’s mansion’s case, it was in the form of preventing death. Either way, it would appear my head is constantly getting me in compromising positions. That’s an Ari allusion, if you couldn’t pick up on it.