Runway

I used to know a very wealthy, very blonde girl from St. Louis named Liesel. She used to talk about her horses and carried a $500 bag to work, breezily throwing it in the little filthy wait station with everyone else’s garbage. We were working at the restaurant of a country club in southeastern Massachusetts, where we both spent every summer, and despite my best attempts to hate her for the sheer fact of her blessed being, she was actually pretty nice. (Her sister was another story, if I remember correctly.)

One night toward the end of the summer all the staff — most of us 18, 19, 20 years old — had a party at our ringleader Michelle’s dad’s house. He was a bachelor with a hottub and lots of booze in the wet bar and we all felt pretty fancy whenever we’d go there, mixing acidly strong drinks and smoking Marlboro Ultra Light 100s, which were the cigarette of the summer for some reason. I don’t remember any of the details of this particular party except that Liesel was the one to give me a ride home. She got in her parents Volvo with a can of beer and put it in the center cup holder. I couldn’t hide my shock. “What if someone stops you?” I asked, probably not very coherently. “There’s no one here,” she said, turning off the car’s headlights briefly to prove how dark and empty the country road was, how alone we were, just the two of us, in this classy gold station wagon, the one a few models too old for the parents’ use, so tossed to the kids until it was worn out or totaled, I guess. She seemed really cool then, all relaxed and being friendly to me but not with any specificity — I could have been anyone, really. And I remember wondering if we would be friends if I lived in St. Louis and had horses too. 

As far as I remember that was the last time I saw her. Maybe she didn’t work Labor Day and then went back to Missouri, and it was my last year there because I got fired later that fall while working one of the weddings when a friend and I were caught taking the golf cart off of club property. I doubt she came back to work at the club the next summer anyway. She was off to college and then who knows where else. 

Anyway, I’m watching Project Runway All Stars and that blonde girl Laura, the rich one from St. Louis, is being awful and Liesel just sort of popped into my head, with her beer can, her cigarette dangling out the window, orange embers flying off into the dark. When she dropped me off and turned around and headed back down my driveway she beeped to say goodbye. It seemed classy to me. Or at least mature. Like people saying “take care.” It’s weird to think that she then drove the rest of the way home, went to bed, and had probably forgotten all about it by the next morning