Sunday, June 19, 2011

The End of a Hipster

By Chris Belyea, Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Angie LeFou was speechless when the hospital called. "I'll be right there." Three years after his accident, Lee's cerebral cortex had fully recovered, he blinked, and the nurses came rushing in. Angie brought Lee flowers often, and visited his family on holidays. Always hoping for this day without believing that it was ever coming. Like a widow she grieved, found God, and as soon as the pain stopped forgot all about Him.


It may not have been love that they felt, but they knew at first sight it wouldn't be long until their raw flesh was soaked in each other. Still naked, he would light a cigarette for her. Staring into crater sized leak stains painted across the ceiling, he listened for her heartbeat in the silence, jumpy and mad like a Ginsberg rant in its truest form, and she would wonder if he ever cried. 
Sunrise engulfed Brooklyn like burning pastels and cast shadows that shook like toothless marionette dolls. Lee listened as the silence was strangled by the rumble of a J Express train. He was tired of pedaling and dreamt impatiently about sleep. But with twenty yards left before Broadway hits Flushing Avenue he watched the traffic light turn from green to yellow. Suddenly the challenge of beating the red seemed to be a worthy one. 
Turning right onto Broadway as the green light mixed with the sunrise and flooded across the street behind him, he felt for his iPhone. I should have stayed in Williamsburg, he thought, seeing the time. In four short hours he was scheduled to open a posh cafe that serves over priced macchiatos to bone-thin girls who buy beat up cardigans in dust covered East Village thrift-shops, and who wouldn't dare wear one until it's washed at least twice. The cafe was a sea of obscure t-shirts, mostly one-hit-wonder bands from the eighties and movies that would be better left forgotten. Every faction of facial hair was well represented, and customers were fluent in sarcasm. On a rainy day you'd see uglier sweaters than Christmas morning in a Russian orphanage. But Lee could not hear the cab coming; he thought about his bike, a golden Guerciotti named Senor that survived the eighties, and for some terrible reason, the fixed-gear road bike much like his sloppy attire and shitty air of superiority had become incredibly fashionable. By the time the cab driver slowed down he was back in Queens, and Lee was an unconscious heap of bruised bone and bent bicycle frame.
Doctors always warn the friends and family of coma survivors about the shock; disbelief should be expected. Tears poured down his face, each drop an avalanche crushing his scruffy cheeks. "Your…Angie?" He stammered. He thought about the trendy grad student that had a copy vinyl of Village Green Preservation Society in her handbag. Twenty-twelve came and went, and fashonistas worldwide collectively migrated toward shiny and stiff. By the time Angie picked Lee up from the coma rehabilitation center in Manhattan for his first day visit into the real world, most dresses were infused with strips of stainless steel and odd shapes of colored plastic. Her sunflower eyes pleaded to comfort him, but right where his favorite horn-rimmed glasses had once been, Angie wore a thin strip of frosted glass that smelt like heavy-duty antibacterial cleaning products. It blinked occasionally and Lee, finally fed up with curiosity, asked why.
"Oh, Lee, they've done in a lot in three years," taking off the glasses. Angie couldn't look him straight in the eyes. "It's called an iSight." It blinks, rings, or buzzes when you get an email, it plays music.  She was waiting for the contact lenses in the mail.
She went on explaining and Lee didn't care. He was lost behind the times, wishing that he had never woken up, that the sweet ignorance of his coma could swallow the pain of his fall from grace. Here was Lee, once on top, self-proclaimed or not, he had indeed been king of the hipsters, now without kingdom or crown, stuck in a world he knew nothing of, where music was now synchronized bleeps, blips, and pitch corrected crooning. He craved for the crunch of a beat-up tube amp or a Coltrane riff bumping and bubbling from a musty old record player. This is all a cruel joke made by a sick God, he thought. Had style been a growing tree, he had stepped away for just long enough for the branches to become foreign and intangible, forever out of reach. A lifetime of intense dedication to fashion - a closet full of v-neck sweaters, extra-large single pattern tank-tops, and Levi jean shorts, now useless, and Lee felt broken. 
He had been released from the hospital; James Blake had become a God, but all the auto-tune made Lee's ears bleed. Books had become completely obsolete and irony was no longer considered a legitimate form of comedy. He stared out into the darkness of the fully-lit Manhattan skyline, knowing its absolute loneliness like the smile of a stillborn son. They said three months was a generous estimate before he felt comfortable around people again, and got those real self-forgetting belly laughs. Yet he was now caught in a staring contest with the neon colored wax, running little liquid bullets down a birthday candle, while Angie, spinning around like a dyslexic cyclone, anxiously prepared for the perpetually late in-laws. Lee's thirty-first birthday party was two weeks before his first wedding anniversary and one year after the doctors gave him the green light to start working again, and the party was supposed to be his big celebration. Angie seems happy, he thought to himself, I'm supposed to be happy. He clung onto her like an eternally entertained kitten with its helpless paw stuck deep in a strand of yarn. Letting her shop for him, hoping she could restore him to his distant throne. Balconies were the next big thing. Everybody had one. Lee and Angie's overlooked the Williamsburg Bridge, a giant spider of hazy concrete and fuzzy lights off to the left.

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