salon noir, part two

song that is currently stuck in my head: ‘Homecoming’ by The Teenagers (Gentleman Driver’s Rave Mix)

The idea behind the ‘salon noir’ held at artist Lia Halloran’s craftsman bungalow in Pasadena was that you had to present to the group something either noir or nouveau. There also turned out to be a New Orleans theme, which I was oblivious about until I got there in my ‘noir’ outfit of black skinny jeans and silk ruffled shirt and velvet jacket. The alcoholic beverage of the night was a New Orleans cocktail that starts with an S — I can’t remember the actual name but trust a reader will clue me in — and I was impressed by the research involved: the woman who took on this noble duty went from restaurant to restaurant until she found the best version of the drink, then homed in on the chef to learn how to make it. She also provided the room with some kind of voodoo candle meant to protect mothers and children.

After we drank and dined and milled, we got to business: giving our presentations. What I remember now: a man read a poem addressed to an ex-lover that was delightfully dark and bitter. As if in keeping with that particular theme, another man played us a song about a woman who leaves her husband. After he gave his little intro about how “demented” it was, the song kicked off with a bouncy, Broadway beginning — didn’t sound very ‘noir’ to me, sounded downright cheery — but then the lyrics unfolded, the woman singing about the marriage that trapped her and how the years ticked by and she got out and now, if she had to go back to him, she would “rather die….I’d rather die!…” until finally she was belting out “I’D RATHER DIE!!!!” and I was pretty much cracking up*.

A nice counterpoint to that was a woman’s talk about her marriage, which by all accounts sounded happy and successful, partly because of the effort they were making to stay playful and “keep it fresh”. She passed around a book of erotic photographs. “Because he loves me so much…” the woman said, whipping out a pair of elegant black handcuffs trailing a silken cord. She went on to say something about knots, but I was oddly hypnotized by the handcuffs and maybe not paying attention.

I read a passage from my novel LORD OF BONES, which seemed to go over well, and then somehow found myself the volunteer for another woman’s presentation of the ‘new’, which turned out to be some kind of hair-tooling instrument that can both curl and straighten. I sat in the chair while she moved this thing around my head. It made a drilling sound that reminded me of a scene in Scarface — and if you’ve seen the movie, you know the one I’m talking about — but I have to say, I wanted one.

*Not that I can relate to that song in any way whatsoever, you understand. Because I can’t. I really really can’t.


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