by Barbara Quinn
Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she's stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish


Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she's stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish cop, Tressa also has a giant grandfather clock strapped to her back, a bushel of eggs in her arms, and her mother cracking a Pampers whip over her head.

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I never should have let Carmen talk me into joining her for another Blow Job, but she promised we would leave the bar if I did. Carmen said, "Tressa, you're such a goddamn wimp. I need you to do this with me. What the hell are friends for?" She motioned to the good-looking bartender to set us up.

I chewed my lip. "I get talky after three. I should definitely stop."

"You'll feel great. I already do and one more should make things perfect." She hiccupped.

The bartender pushed the shots forward, their tall whipped cream tops covering generous portions of Kahlua and Bailey's Irish Crème.

Carmen giggled. "Look Ma, no hands." She brought her face down to her shot and licked some cream off the side of the glass. "Yum." She nudged me. "Come on, Tressa. Stop stalling. Get those hands behind that back."

I groaned and assumed the proper shot-shooting pose. I bent over, took the glass between my teeth and steeled myself to toss the alcohol to the back of my throat. With the first taste, I saw my fiancée Steven walk into Uptown Lounge. The instant of joy I felt immediately turned to shock, then anger. Steven's arm was wrapped around the shoulders of a girl whose back was to me. I stood up straight and knocked over the glass. My head whirled and I stepped away from the mess.

"Hey, you're going to have to pay for that anyway." The bartender mopped up the spill.

Carmen's eyes followed my open-mouthed gaze. "Shit," she said backing away from her drink. "Didn't you tell me he was home in bed recovering from a root canal?"

Steven leaned over and kissed the girl on the neck, in the same spot he'd kissed my own neck countless times the past eighteenmonths. My temples throbbed with rage. I threw some bills on the bar and Carmen grabbed me by the elbow. "Maybe we should leave."

"That bastard. That two-timing, lying bastard. How could he!" The room was spinning.

Carmen moved toward me and wiped away the last of the cream the shots had left on my face. "I'm sorry, chica." She shook her head, a hint of green spreading across her face. "I really mean it. Men can be such animals." She emptied then slammed her shot-glass on the bar. That made four for Carmen.

I strode across the lounge to where Steven was locking lips with Little-Miss-Interloper. Carmen wobbled behind me. Steven glanced up. His face went white and his eyes widened. I tore my ring from my finger and threw it at him, bouncing it off his forehead.

"Tressa, I can explain."

"I don't want to hear it. There's nothing you could possibly say that can explain why you'd be kissing someone else!"

The young thing Steven had been hugging backed away from us.

"Oh man, chica. Do you see her?" Carmen pointed at the girl and tried to steady herself. "Doesn't she look a lot like you? What the hell is going on?" She blinked a couple of times and shook her head violently.

A shock passed through me. The girl was tall like me and about my weight, though she did appear a few years younger. She had the same color light brown hair, with gold highlights, and my brown eyes flecked with amber. Her T-shirt stretched across her chest the same way mine did. Steven had told me more than once he was a boob man. I held onto the table for support. "What kind of sick game are you playing?"

My now ex-fiancée hung his head.

The girl said, "Wow, Steve told me he'd found someone like me." She stared at me and I thought I was looking into a mirror.

"Funny, he didn't tell me about finding you."

She said, "We dated in high school and college."

"You're that Tina? Tina from his high school days?" I kicked Steven in the shins. "You're a lying creep. You said you never wanted to see her again. That she was the worst thing that ever happened to you!"

I turned to Tina. "How long have you two been together?"

She looked at her nails then at me. "We've been back for a few months, haven't we Stevie?"

Stevie! He had begged me to call him that in bed!

"She's the original and I'm some substitute copy. What the hell were you thinking?" I threw a leather-covered wine list at him and followed it with a napkin holder. He deflected them and placed his palms over his groin.

Carmen moaned and held her hands to her stomach. "Maybe I should have eaten something for lunch." She retched violently, the vomit splattering over Steven's slacks and onto Tina's shoes. A chorus of "Ewwwws" and "Gross!" erupted as patrons moved away from us.

"It's over," I yelled. "How could I have been so stupid?" I locked arms with Carmen and we left the bar, walking with difficulty.

"Where are we going, chica?" Carmen asked.

"To my apartment so we can both sober up." I wiped hot tears from my eyes. "I can't believe I was supposed to start looking at places to have the reception next week."

Carmen moaned. "You were right about that last shot. I should have listened. I don't know why I think I can drink those crummy things." She sent me a silly grin. "You're gonna have to lead the way 'cause I don't know where we are."

"I should have had that last one and then I could have vomited on them too."

"There's one good thing, chica."

"What's that?"

"We don't have to go to work in the morning." She pumped a hand in the air and leaned heavily on me. "No bruja Bianca for one more day. No folding and fluffing bras and panties. No kissing Bianca butt." Carmen gulped air. "I'm so sick of that store."

An NYPD car pulled alongside us and the window rolled down. I groaned. The officer inside said, "Is everything under control, ladies?"

I propped Carmen up as best I could. "We're great. My miserable fiancé, make that ex-fiancé, just turned up with a girl who looked just like me at a bar and my friend here threw up all over them. Everything is terrific."

The cop pushed his hat back on his head. He had gorgeous blue eyes and they infuriated me. So did the dimples in his cheeks.

"Maybe you'd like a lift home. How's that sound? I'm finishing up my shift."

Carmen said, "Will you put on the siren?"

I poked her in the ribs. "No thanks, officer. I don't live that far from here. We can cab it if necessary."

"Come on. Let's take a spin in the cop car," said Carmen pulling at the door handle.

The next thing I knew Carmen was inside the car sticking her studded-tongue out at me. I joined her in the back, my head spinning as I sank onto the black seat.

"Where do you live?" the cop asked.

"340 East Ninety-third, between First and Second."

Carmen's eyes closed and she began to snore loudly. I called to her trying to wake her. The cop said, "Let her sleep it off."

"You're not going to arrest us? That would be the perfect end to the perfect day."

"Should I arrest you for something?" His eyes crinkled in the rear view mirror and I felt rage rise in my chest.

"What is it with men? You all look so good, and you act so nice till you've got us exactly where you want us and then, wham, you turn into horrid beasts that might as well still be dragging their knuckles on the ground."

"Excuse me?"

"Sometimes, life really sucks, you know?"


"I have the absolute worst piece of crap job in the world. If I go to the john my boss bitches about it. $9 an hour for what? I can't even shop on the sale rack most of the time even with the lousy discount she gives me."

The car stopped at a red light. A cab playing loud Arab music slowed beside us. I slapped myself in the chest. "It's these stupid things. I'm a 36C. Know what that means? Trouble." Ohmigod! I told this cop my bra size! You're not this rude. And certainly not to a cop! "Men are fools for these things. They blind you." I flexed and threw my arms back. "It's like having some sort of freakish power over a guy that lasts only until the next set of boobs pops up on his radar screen and he hones in on those."

You have to stop! Right now!

But I couldn't.

The cop said, "Your building should be on this side of the block."

I hiccupped. "I've gotten to hate lingerie. But there's this one Fantino set that I absolutely adore." Would you shut up! "My boss ... she doesn't like to carry stuff in my size. She has a special line of L'Amour! Lovelies that stops at 34B. You should see the way she looks at me when I bounce around the store. She wears awful perfume." I waved my hand in front of my face. "And she sucks her teeth like this." I made a loud sucking noise.

The cop chuckled.

"Do you know what else I hate? She always says my name as a question, as though she's never sure what it is. Tressssaaaaaaa? A lot of good a graphics art degree from Syracuse and eight years of painting lessons are doing me." I sat back exhausted and feeling queasy. I ran my hand over my face.

The member of NY's finest coughed. "This look familiar to you?"

I hadn't realized the car had stopped in front of my building. I nudged Carmen awake and opened the door with difficulty. The cop was smiling at me. I knew my cheeks were flushing. At least he wasn't someone I'd have to see again.

"Can you manage with your friend?" he asked.

"Do you have some kind of Sir Galahad fetish? There must be dozens of other damsels in distress awaiting you!" I slammed the door shut and wrapped my arm around Carmen.


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