The Story of “K” and How She Turned Me into a Stripper – Part 1
“Still in the dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair, she sits there so refined.”
~ Barry Manilow, Copacabana
I first saw K about a year ago. One glance and you knew it had been a long while since she had seen better days. She reminded me of a latter day Norma Desmond.
Dressed in gold and cream, she looked like she had stepped out of the ‘80s, and if they called, even they would no longer claim her. My glance lingered and I thought perhaps, swaddled in overkill and little recourse, she was hiding another more genteel past beneath all that flash.
I thought of those overmade-up ladies you sometimes see. Too much lipstick, heavy on the rouge, overdressed and over painted… that was K.
I sent a smile her way, but uncertain about how we’d ever connect, I passed her by and didn’t think about her again.
Until a year later.
I didn’t intend to go back to that place, but agreed to meet someone at an address I didn’t recognize, though in an area I knew well. And that’s how I found myself outside the white building for a second time.
Carrying little recollection of an uneventful prior visit, I walked up the sidewalk and again entered a huge room full of forgettable stories: some with hope for the future, some rough around the edges, some with little or no potential for optimism.
I was there for another purpose, but my eyes fell upon a darkened corner of the large room. That’s when I saw K for the second time. And though I had put her out of my head, I immediately recognized her uniquely faded glory.
Her presence was a distraction, so I politely concluded my conversation with the person I was there to meet and observed her for a little while. Her dated appearance masked delicate curves. Her oversized, mismatched accessories were out of place, as was her attire.
In my head, I named her K, not short for something lovely, like Katherine, but for a more insensitive, poorly constructed french phrase that a Francophone would tell you didn’t make sense… and they’d be right. But none of this made sense.
K stood for “Que” as in “Que Horrible.”
They say once you name something, it’s yours. So all at once, I knew why I was drawn back to that place… because it was my job to save her.