I wonder who is crazier; the person who comes up with a wild idea, or the people who agree to go along with it.
I'm hoping to find an answer in going back over what's happened this evening. The story really starts about two weeks ago, during the most terrifying thing that's ever happened to me. But, you'll hear about that in a minute.
Tonight's weirdness began with the broken elevator in my friend Emilia's apartment building. As a result of that, I found myself huffing my way up seven flights of stairs in my black, below-the-ankle boots with 3 inch heels. Clack, clack, clack... echoing all the way up in that nerve-racking way stairwells have. The second-loudest noise was the swish of my black, wet-look leggings, followed by the jangling of my metal bracelets, small silver earrings, and the contents of my purse. The only things on me that didn't make noise were my long, white tank and the neat blonde ponytail falling down my back. I'd spent at least an hour on my makeup alone, deep red lipstick and black eyeliner with a hint of glitter.
Yes, the plan was to go to a club. How'd you guess?
By the time I huffed my way up and through the door onto the second floor hallway, I was ready for the first of what would hopefully be many, many drinks that evening. Cursing Emilia's name before I even reached the door (Bitchbetterbereadybitchbetterbeready), I flipped open my compact and took one last look at my painstakingly-made-up face, and smiled.
Oh yeah, I'm a hottie. I rolled my eyes and knocked on the door.
I heard Emilia's voice from within the apartment; it was muffled and far away, but it definitely said "Come in!" So in I went, not thinking at that point that I'd have any reason to just turn around and leave. Yeeeah.
Emilia's apartment was a bit of a mess - it was normally immaculate, but things had been shaken up a bit. My place was kinda the same, to be honest. Rough couple of weeks, like I said.
The girl herself was down the hall; I heard water running in the bathroom, and a pop station playing on her phone.
"Hey lady, you almost ready?" I called.
Emilia's normally a motormouth, but she was obviously putting on lipstick or something. (Funny how we always assume "or something" means something normal). She sounded chipper enough, anyway. My heels clacked me into the kitchen, where I opened her fridge to see what I could rustle up for pre-gaming. I slid a beer out of a six pack, opened it, and stood up to take a swig. As the fridge door swung closed, I heard Emilia coming down the hallway, and went to meet her.
I came around the corner from the kitchen, singing "Hey, sexy thing, how are you - " and stopped dead. The beer nearly slipped out of my hand.
Now, Emilia usually IS stop-in-your-tracks-gorgeous. She towers over me at an even 6 feet, with a thin, snaky form and creamy pale skin. She has shining, almost grey eyes, set in a thin face with full lips that I would kill for. Her hair is straight and black with a dark blue bangs, and tonight she's got it up with the sharp strands of bangs falling down past her chin.
Oh, and she's got stretchy, shiny white tape over her fucking mouth.
"Emilia... who did this to you? Are they still here?"
She looked confused. She looked around the apartment with a mischievous glint in her eyes, and shrugged. Her tape gag crinkled a bit with a smile. It was completely form-fitting, covering her face from the bottom of her nose to just above the cliff of her chin, and stretching across both cheeks to end below the outside corner of each eye.
Now I was confused. "You... did this yourself?"
She nodded fast, excited. "Mmm-hmm!"
I looked around the room for a moment, before squeezing my eyes shut and almost whispering, "Why?"
She looked up, tapping her taped mouth with one finger and humming, as though indecisive: "Mmmmmm....wmll, M gmess M shmmld tmll ymm..."
"Can you please take the tape off of your mouth to explain?"
She rolled her eyes. "Mh, mkmy." She began picking at one corner, and slowly peeled the stuff away from her face. I watched it hold its grip, but she didn't seem to be in pain. When I finally saw her mouth emerge from its adhesive prison, she was smiling.
"Okay, crazy lady, what's going on here?"
"Good to see you, too," she said, in that smoky voice of hers. Her eyelids looked heavy under grey shadow. I took a moment to look at the rest of her outfit - black tube top with sequin adornments running in a few vertical strips off to either side of her torso, and a dark, satiny blue pencil skirt above hose and black pumps. A small black choker on her neck with a silvery rose offset to one side. Yep, gorgeous. The only weird accessory had been the tape.
"So, I was thinking about a couple weeks ago - you look freakin' hot, by the way!"
"Yeah yeah, thanks, get on with it," I said, crossing my arms.
"Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, when we got caught up in the stupid bank robbery. What with talking to the police and media and everything, I can't get it out of my mind."
"That's what tonight is supposed to be about, Emilia. Going out and having a good time and trying to forget about it for a while."
"I know, but I can't. I couldn't shake that feeling of being totally helpless when that guy tied us up. So, just as a way to kind of reclaim control over the experience, I decided to slap some tape on my mouth again. I got this microfoam stuff, it's pretty nice. I put some on, then looked at my face in the mirror, and I started doing makeup around it. Then my whole outfit. And it dawned on me that this was going to be perfect for going to the club!"
You could have heard a cricket drop a pin.
"Emilia, I think you need to talk to a therapist."
"Who do you think suggested I reclaim the experience?"
"Exactly what therapist have you been talking to? Do I really have to explain why you shouldn't go to the club with your mouth taped shut?"
"No. But I'll bet you're wondering about my reasons for why we should."
"Actually, I'm - WE?!" I almost shouted. "You expect me to put that stuff on my mouth?"
"No way," Emilia said, looking slightly confused. "I'll put it on you. It's hard to get it perfectly straight on your own, believe me."
"What is this? Do you WANT us to get captured again?"
"How would we get captured? We'll be in a room full of people!"
"With our freaking mouths taped shut, Emilia!" I said, scarcely able to believe I has having to persuade one of my best friends to not gift-wrap ourselves for the first weirdo who saw us on the street.
"Stacy, think about it," she said, putting her hands on my shoulders. "Clubs are full of young, smoking hot women bumping and grinding all over each other. That's us, but we'll be the only ones doing it with our mouths all taped up. There are going to be a LOT of people keeping an eye on us all night long!"
"That's kinda what I'm afraid of," I said, wearing the sort of smile you put on your face when talking with a person who has terminally lost it. "Aren't there enough creeps out there every night?"
"Yes, there are, and now you don't have to think of anything to say to them; you won't be able to say anything! And, as an added bonus, there's no point even buying a drink that someone could potentially drug."
I gave an exasperated laugh. "It's bad enough you want me to go out into the world with KIDNAP ME written on my face, but now you don't want me to drink either."
Her face screwed up in confusion. "I wasn't going to write anything on the tape. I did think about putting lipstick on it, though..."
"You have officially gone bonkers, Emilia. I have lipstick, thank you, and I spent quite a long time putting it and the rest of my makeup on. I don't intend to ruin it just to 'reclaim the experience.'"
"Look, I promise, once you get it on, and get a look at yourself in it, you'll change your mind."
"No, I definitely won't, because I'm not wearing a gag out to a club."
"Stace, come on, don't make me do this without you! The other girls will be here soon, I don't have time to start putting on any more makeup! Please? For me?"
Now she looked pitiful, like she had when we got caught up in the robbery. A twinge of sympathy - and possibly also some latent mental illness - made me turn the idea over. I tried to shake it from my head.
"What are the other girls going to say about this?"
"Not a thing," she said, with a wry smile. "I talked to them already. They're behind us 100%."
"No, they're not, because there is no 'us.' I'm not doing it. I'm sorry."
Now a different look came over her face. It was hard to read, but it seemed somehow distant, and cold. She said, "I think you're going to change your mind."
Emilia is the better part of a foot taller than I am, and very fit. Though I found it hard to imagine her doing it, I realized that, if she decided to force the issue, I would almost certainly wind up mumbling into that stretchy white tape in no time. Her pleas had also cracked the shell of my defenses; if I stuck around, signs were pointing toward my being unable to talk for the rest of the night.
"I think I need to go," I said. I turned toward the door, my legs quivering from the stress of climbing the stairs and the nerves of opposing my gag-happy friend. It turned out, I had no idea just how enthusiastic she'd gotten.
I heard a soft peeling noise, and sensed movement, but she was faster than I anticipated. I saw a flash of white come down in front of my eyes, then Emilia pulled the stretchy, sticky stuff TIGHT over the lower half of my face. There was no tearing noise - bitch must have had a piece ready for me, stuck to her butt or something where I couldn't see it!
I spun around, and she grabbed my wrists and held them before me. But not like an assailant - more like a friend who had just introduced her bestie to the perfect fashion accessory. I didn't fight; I froze, wide-eyed.
"Whffa fmck, Emmlim?"
"Well, sorry about your makeup. Like i said, there's no time to fix it now," she said, hopping with excitement. "But I have to say, you look even cuter than I expected!"
"M cmn't bmlmmve M - Rmmlly?" I heard myself mumble. That's right - in spite of myself, I was still intrigued.
"Yes, really!" she said, pulling me down the hallway to her bathroom, where the sink was cluttered with makeup and a big, wide roll of tape. "Take a look!"
I was stunned. I have a small, round face with prominent bone structure - my family is German, after all - and the huge strip of tape actually complimented me very well. I'm smaller than Emilia, as I've established, so the tape actually would have reached all the way to the underside of my chin, had it not bunched up from Emilia's surprise attack. It made my eyes look more expressive, somehow wider, and gave me the impression of having a pretty cute little button nose.
I turned my face this way and that, with a curious "Hmm!" and suddenly heard myself release a small squeal of satisfied delight. Remaining gagged suddenly didn't seem too unpleasant a prospect, other than being unable to talk. What the hell, I prefer texting anyway.
Was being taken hostage turning out to be a sort of blessing in disguise? To think of all the time women spend worrying over our lips, when we could just slap on a slip of tape and head out for the day! There certainly wouldn't be any point to our friends and co-workers asking for a coherent explanation, either.
Emilia was behind me, her hands over her face with excitement. "Oh my God. Do you like it, too?"
With a sigh through my nose, I had to admit it. "M gmess ymm wmrm rmght, mftmr mll!" I laughed a little when I heard myself.
"This is so cool! But we've gotta get a new piece on you. That one's all wrinkled, and it doesn't stick so well once it's been unstuck. The makeup you had on will make it less sticky, too."
She peeled it off, slowly, then started preparing a new one, even longer than before. It was going to swallow half of my face. I laughed, nervous.
"This is so crazy. I can't believe I'm doing this."
"I know, right?" she cut the strip free, then took it in both hands. "So, any last words for the night?"
"Yeah," I said. "I wonder which of us is crazier; you for coming up with this idea, or me for agreeing to it."
"Well, wonder away," she said, moving the strip toward my face. "You can let me know if you figure it out tomorrow, when you're allowed to talk again!"
With it going on slower this time, I discovered - to my fluttery-eyed surprise - that my warm lips and face felt the cold press of the adhesive strip to be something of a relief. As Emilia smoothed the tape out over my mouth, I realized she was right about me "not being allowed" to talk anymore - there was no backing out. My makeup was assuredly fucked, and there wouldn't be time to fix it. I figuratively, and literally, no longer had any say in how the evening went. Emilia was in control - until she got gagged again.
She confirmed this for me, too. "I'm not bringing any extra tape with us, by the way," she said, preparing another strip for herself. "And since this stuff doesn't stick so well a second time, if you want to stay looking good, I'm afraid you'll have to leave that one on."
I ran my hands over the delightful smoothness of my gag as I watched Emilia lean in close to her mirror and carefully apply her own again. No sooner had she done so, than the doorbell rang.
My heart jumped. Emilia grabbed my hand and led me out into the living room. Our entire circle of female friends was here - what were they going to say?
Oh well, I thought. At least I don't have to worry about explaining myself!
Emilia opened the door, and we were bowled over with an excited, singsong greeting. And I realized, Emilia hadn't been kidding. She had talked to them all before. And they weren't going to say a single thing about our perfect accessories.
One by one, our club companions for the night trod into the room in their slim, skimpy club outfits and clacking heels. One by one, they gave us hugs, and affectionate, giggling kisses. But we didn't exchange a word of pleasantries.
Because every single girl Emilia had invited had shown up to her door with her mouth sealed beneath a wide, white strip of stretchy tape.
With a triumphant mumble, Emilia pointed the way out - out into the night, and the unknown.