Saturday, June 2, 2012


Girls giggling: perfectly normal, perfectly natural. They had boarded the Max inbound near Lincoln High School around 5 p.m. and sat together across from me. Three nice, middle-class girls, all apparently with an extracurricular interest in shoes and eyeshadow. They were comparing birthdays – they were all 17, one was soon to turn 18 – and boyfriends, and boyfriends' birthdays.

“Jeremy is 27,” bragged one with huge, Dora the Explorer eyes and raven hair.
Her friends were silently impressed. “He had to make $400 yesterday.”

I strained discreetly to hear what this could possibly mean, picking up that his occupation was “returns.” She told of him returning a $300 leather jacket to Buffalo Exchange.

“When the employees got all suspicious and huddled up in the back, Jeremy just left.”

The other two girls radiated coolness. Fascinated but not asking any stupid questions, like “Who does he work for?” One of them, a fair-haired gamine whose cherry red lipstick overpowered her face, confided that she keeps her stuff at her boyfriend's place. “Shampoo, hairbrush, cosmetic kit. I've got access 24/7.”

The third girl's boyfriend had taken her to a cool party house.

“It's totally soundproofed, with lights and cameras all over the place. There are little secret nooks for hanging out, a kitchen anybody can use, and a runway.”

“A runway?”

“Yeah, like for fashion shoots.”

“Who's the owner?”

“Some forty or fifty year old guy.”

Being a forty or fifty year old guy myself – with a daughter – I was alarmed. How about putting these girls and their parents all on house arrest? Was I jumping to a wrong conclusion in smelling criminal activity?

One said she sold “four, five, six, seven a day at school.” What she sold, I didn't hear. Somehow I don't think she was talking about handmade wristbands or zines. Jeremy's girlfriend said she didn't like to drink “much.” (Bless your good judgment, I thought, while her friends giggled.)
They made calls and set up a meeting in front of a hotel at the Convention Center. At the Convention Center, they got off and I had a chance to look at them more closely as they walked by. Yes, they were all pretty. They wore more makeup than the average schoolgirl but so what? This was all overheard in public. They could have been exaggerating to impress. Jeremy could be a casual friend and the “return” business his own hyped-up exploit to impress her.

And the Convention Center hotel?

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