"Now honey, you can't blame her/for what her mama gave her/it ain't right to hate her/for shakin' that moneymaker."--Trace Adkins, "Honky Tonk Badoonkadunk"
L'Ailee lost a game of chess to the Dorkfish. She had bet that he couldn't beat her even once, which I think is a fairly conservative and safe bet, to be perfectly honest. (No, I am absolutely not being motivated to say that by strong desires for sex and/or self-preservation. If there's anything in this world my wife knows, it is chess.) Anyway, he'd told this story to his wife, my sister-in-law, and my SIL found it hilarious, and L'Ailee found it embarrassing. I have told it on e-mail lists, but not either of my blogs. The bet, therefore, was that if he won, I would tell it here. It may explain why L'Ailee is not attending Sinead O'Connor's concert at Webster Hall tonight--well, that and the exhaustion she's going to have crashing down on her from a meeting and five classes and the fact that she doesn't like reggae, which is all Sinead will be performing.
Okay. L'Ailee is a Cancer/Leo cusp. She has enough Cancerian insecurity and enough Leonine vanity to require that I consider her the most beautiful woman in the room at all times. This is ridiculously easy just about everywhere--I have been in rooms with L'Ailee and women who are paid to be beautiful, and known beyond a shadow of a doubt that mine was the hottest. Some people wonder if I'm less attracted to women than to men because most of my crushes are male, but the fact is, I met a blazingly brilliant and beautiful woman when I was 18, and there just aren't many other women worth looking at that way as far as I'm concerned. However, the one place where this is challenging is a concert hall where Sinead O'Connor, who after all has been my main female celebrity crush since I was 13, is performing.
In 1997, I was visiting L'Ailee in NYC, and she had surprised me by getting me tickets to the Guinness Fleadh festival, where Sinead was headlining. Wasn't that sweet? L'Ailee went with me. This was to be my first time seeing Sinead perform live, and I was so stoked, and L'Ailee was so stoked for me. She herself thought Sinead had a nice voice, and still does. She also liked that Sinead had let her hair grow to shoulder-length, so she could buzz her own head without anyone telling her, "Do you know who you look just like?" (L'Ailee believes there is a law mandating that all bald or buzzed white women must be told they resemble Sinead. I think there isn't that much of a resemblance, but if you find one attractive, you'll probably find the other attractive as well. Then again, I do find 'em both beyond attractive, so I'm biased.)
We had third-row tickets, and I was just entranced. Sinead's voice was even more beautiful and versatile in person, and oh, she looked so gorgeous despite the fact that bangs weren't really for her, and she gave off such a confident vibe. She made a roomful of people who had enjoyed large amounts of the sponsor's product quiet and respectful, which I still think says a lot for her power as a person and a performer. The songs from her new Gospel Oak EP were slow, but peaceful rather than draggy, and she performed some of her hits as well. She was *back*, and she was amazing. I'm afraid I sort of lost L'Ailee in the shuffle.
But after a while, even I could feel--not see, *feel*--one of L'Ailee's infamous slow burns coming on. I turned to her. "Are you okay, sweetness?"
"I'm fine. Watch the show."
"You're not liking it," I guessed.
"Look, we can talk about it later." Oh, there are no words that will send chills down my spine faster than "talk about it later." Hell no, the other person's gotta talk to me now and get it over with now, rather than leave me stewing in my own juices until *they're* ready! I felt doomed to be all nervous and antsy until the show was over, and suddenly, it wasn't so fun anymore.
Then it dawned on me why L'Ailee was acting like that. And I thought of a way to get out of it in a more timely fashion than she'd planned. I turned to her. "These are excellent tickets," I whispered, hoping Sinead or a band member wouldn't see or another fan wouldn't be disturbed. "I can see her crow's feet from here."
L'Ailee shook her head, but looked less pissy. I soldiered on. "Who did that to her hair?" L'Ailee smiled slightly.
"Blue eyes are nice, but not nearly as pretty as gray." (Guess which woman has which eye color?)
"Jaya, that is not necessary," L'Ailee replied with a bigger smile.
Sinead was wearing a sleeveless dress. She looked lovely in it, but inspired my piece de resistance. "And sweetness, her arms...are not *nearly*...as cut as yours."
This was when L'Ailee grinned, then doubled over with her mouth covered so nobody could hear her laugh. Another attendee was disturbed then--he wondered whether L'Ailee was crying. I whispered, "She's okay now." She really was, too. I enjoyed the rest of the concert in peace, and L'Ailee was sweet to me afterward.
That's the story. But I have an addendum.
This May, we saw Sinead play the Jammy Awards, performing with Burning Spear. How interesting it was to hear her explore another musical genre, one she really loved, and see her "battle" in true reggae style with Burning Spear, who was as much a hero to her as she ever was to me. It was worth going into a hippie-oriented event to hear it, plus I got to hear Ryan Adams, Travis Tritt, and Mavis Staples, too. L'Ailee was my date because our mutual friend who also loves Sinead couldn't make it. She was not happy having to go into "hippy hell," as she termed it in several bitchy text messages.
I was wearing a Big and Rich "Love Everybody" T-shirt that L'Ailee had taken in and cut the collar out of to make very sexy on me. But it was sedate next to her shirt--a Liberty University (yes, Jerry Falwell's college) T-shirt that Mom had mailed to us as a joke after visiting Lynchburg, Virginia. L'Ailee cut it the hell *off*--took in the arms, took most of the length off, chopped the back out of until nothing was left but cap sleeves, the Liberty logo, and a thin band tying it tight around her back. Oooh-wee, shut my mouth, slap yo’ grandma! How she loves explaining what Liberty is when people, usually openly gaping, ask her; I call this and a couple of others modified the same way her "love me for my mind" shirts. Ol' Jerry could base ten sermons on that shirt, even before realizing that no bra could be under it! I now realize that what L'Ailee wanted was to remind me who I was going home with, as if I needed it.
Sinead sounded fantastic! I'd thought the reggae--sorry, *Rasta* music, not the party jams a lot of people associate with the genre--was going to be disastrous, but it was an oddly natural fit with her voice and attitude. But she looked like she'd gained a bit of weight, perhaps by getting the munchies after enjoying Jamaican produce just a little too much. It wasn't a lot--maybe ten pounds on her itty-bitty fun-sized body. If it had been a lot, like enough to make her need to shop alongside me at Lane Bryant, L'Ailee would have developed a crush on Sinead because, thankfully, she prefers big girls. Missy Elliott is her idea of hot; so was Courtney Love before she lost the weight and her mind. As it was, L'Ailee stood there smirking. "She's gained weight."
"She's damn near 40, baby. She's had three kids."
"Still, she's gained weight." Big smile.
"Hush." L'Ailee told me later that this, the snarky text messages, and watching me dance were the only entertaining aspects of the evening for her. Sinead was almost the last act. As we left, L'Ailee's stubbled head was high and her taut white tummy was proudly displayed as she strutted out into the night. What could I do but let my ultra-competitive blood-and-guts girl have her "win", even if there was actually never any contest and the other woman had no clue whatsoever that either of us existed?