My life is over 

Kissing and feeding at Two Urban Licks

Get this: Jesse just reached over, grabbed Kevin by the back of the head and planted one of those big, wet, warm, messy kind of kisses, the wonderful kind people need more of in their lives, right there on his mouth. One second she was looking at him with those big doe eyes through impossibly long lashes and the next she had her whole mouth wrapped around him like he was this big melting Popsicle and she's sitting there with her tongue, not wanting to miss a drop.

Now, Grant has been in love with Kevin for a hundred years, even longer than I have -- and not even from afar, really, because Kevin lives right here -- but neither of us has ever reached over and planted a fat one on Kevin's handsome face like Jesse did, and Jesse just got here! She and her roommate Mandoline have been living in the Telephone Factory less than two months, having moved in the same time I moved back in after a five-year absence -- and let me tell you, those two have already taken over the entire goddamn world.

Jesse is a professional photographer and Mandoline is a professional, I guess, gadfly. That was Mandoline who was voted "Degenerate of the Month" on the Degenerate Press website a few weeks ago, with a beer bottle hanging out of the fly of the men's underwear she was wearing on the dance floor at Trader Vic's. Those two plan parties and get-togethers -- they know your birthday, they invite you places, they figure out what you need and find it for you. In the short time they've been here, they've managed to ingrain themselves in all our lives to the point we don't know how we survived before they came.

"Your life is over," Big Daniel tells me, and not just because of the two she-tornadoes that moved into my building, but because of the beehive of activity adjacent to us in what used to be an old Turner production warehouse.

A fancy restaurant is opening there, all low-lit and sultry city-viewed with a big bar, which is the scene where Jesse swallowed Kevin's head the other day. The place is called Two Urban Licks, and like everyone, I'm perplexed about the name, which is just kind of confusingly sexual, you know what I mean? My brain just goes there, but then again I am only Southern by assignment, not by birth, and maybe I'm missing a Southern reason for a name like this. When I first moved to Georgia, I called all my friends in California and told them about the freeway exit in Lawrenceville called Broken Beaver Road, which I later learned was named after an Indian trail. It was about four years later before I passed it again and realized the name is actually Beaver Ruin Road, but that is almost just as astounding.

Big Daniel owns the Local, a conversely low-key tavern down the street, and I teased him that the new restaurant will steal all his customers. Big Daniel was here recently, looking at the line of valet parked cars out back.

"Your life is over," I laughed.

"No," Big Daniel smiled with certainty as he assessed the parade of Lexuses, Humvees and giant Ford fuck-you mobiles that completely encrusted the once wide-open expanse of asphalt that surrounded my building, "yours is."

My neighbors and I have been hanging out at Two Urban Licks a lot lately, mostly because the place is not officially open to the public yet. In preparation for its grand opening, there have been elegant parties every night in order to give the employees practice, which means free food. So Grant and I and the rest of the urchins that make up our neighbors constantly wander over like a pack of small feral hogs.

For a hoity-toity art-gallery restaurant that is practically secretly located along the train tracks, Two Urban Licks is incredibly undiscriminating. The only inclination I got that they might be getting sick of us happened when I told the maitre d' who I was. He is the notorious Atlanta actor Don Finny. "I'm so sorry for you," he responded dryly, which would have almost insulted me if I didn't remember I was crashing that party and had no business being there anyway.

Mandoline holds a kind of server, hostess, public-relations hybrid comet-of-energy position there, which means, I suspect, the owner really doesn't know what to do with her yet but is wisely hanging onto her until he figures out how to harness her power. I think I've already gained five pounds just by taste-testing all the menu items they were kind enough not to question whether I was entitled to have, and I'm going back tomorrow night for more. This time I actually have an invitation, I think. I don't know.

All I know is I'm having a hell of a lot of fun lately and it's not just because of a big blow-ass fancy restaurant, it's because of a lot of things that can probably be summed up pretty well by how Jesse kissed Kevin's face like she did. There is just something to be said for someone who isn't afraid to grab what she wants without asking permission, who won't take no for an answer because it doesn't occur to her to ask the question. I like having that around me, and if this means my life is over, then it's about goddamn time.

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood (Harper Collins). Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at www.atlanta.creativeloafing.com.

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