Super fragile 

She may be scrappy, but not so tough

I must say, I'm pretty proud of Lary's girlfriend. She dragged him to a salon, got him a gay haircut, and then dumped him that very day, left him sitting there looking like a fuck-ass fool, with highlights and everything. I don't know if she had it planned or if it was just spontaneous brilliance, but what a move. Grant and I were falling all over each other laughing when we heard. "That's perfect," I howled. "Jesus God, that is genius!"

I hope you understand I genuinely like Kung Fu Kitty, and so does Grant. In fact, we are seriously entertaining the thought of letting her take Lary's place in our circle of friends. She's half his age, for one, and genuinely loony but without the drugs, and we're not just saying that because she's a tough little martial artist and scares the crap out of us. Two, she can do anything Lary can but probably better. For example, whenever I asked Lary to help me move -- which, granted, over the years has been a lot -- he'd always make sure to break something so I'd think twice about asking him again. Once I caught him trying to bend a floor lamp in half, and twice I saw him dropkick a box marked "SUPER FRAGILE" into his truck, but luckily it was stuff that belonged to my sister, who had unwisely left it in my possession for safekeeping.

"Do you not know I move every other weekend?" I warned her. I really have no idea why my sister thought her stuff would be better off with me. She herself had just moved to Las Vegas from Steamboat Springs, where she'd only lived long enough to piss off a small crowd of people, as opposed to the normal throng who was usually glad to see her leave. I thought she'd stay in Vegas a few months, tops, especially since the only job she could find was waiting tables at the Imperial Hotel's lame-ass buffet. They did not even have chocolate mousse at that buffet. That was a huge grievance on both our parts. Everyone knows a Las Vegas buffet isn't worth its weight in musty cigarette butts if there isn't a pyramid of chocolate mousse in the middle of it.

Our first experience with the entire bovines-at-the-trough buffet concept had been at Ceasar's Palace in the '70s, when buffets were still a big deal. They offered it only on Sundays, and people "dressed up" to go, like church. My parents made us anticipate it like Christmas morning, especially the "dessert display," which was supposed to be a cattle car-sized presentation of cakes, pies, cookies and this stuff called "mousse." It was supposed to be like whipped cream, and the love of whipped cream is so inherent in my bones that later I got my first job at a Baskin-Robbins simply so I could spend my shift snorking the stuff straight from the canister.

The buffet was in a room that, at that time, housed the "world's largest chandelier," or so I was told. I was a little disappointed with it because I thought it should have had more girth, like the size and shape of a massive upside-down Christmas tree, but instead it was more spread out all over the hugeness overhead, with legs fanning out from an anemic knot at the middle like a giant crystal tarantula stuck to the ceiling. "Oh, big whoop," I huffed, but my mother snuffed out her Salem menthol and eyed me keenly before lighting another one. "That chandelier is made of thousands and thousands of super-fragile crystals all strung together by hand," she said. "That's nothing to sneeze at."

She had done her part to get us excited about the buffet, but her enticement had been the chandelier, while my dad's had been the desserts, and I must say he knew how to strike at the heart of an 8-year-old's desire. The dessert display was like a wonderland, and I ate so much mousse I began to burp it back up, so you could say I was literally foaming at the mouth. I spent the rest of the day in our roadside motel, clutching my gut and wailing. My sister had it much easier. She hurled her brunch as easily as a bulimic, then immediately taunted me with the potato chips she bought at the dispensing machine down by the pool.

But still that day went down in my childhood memory as one of my most magical experiences. I can still remember the six-tiered rotating centerpiece showcasing every confection possible, all illuminated by thousands upon thousands of crystals from the biggest chandelier in the world. My mother spent most of the time looking at it, contemplating its fragility, probably, though looking less than fragile herself, smoking her 10th menthol of the morning. We were due to move again soon, this time to Florida so she could work on rockets for NASA. She had to quit her night classes in cosmetology at the local community college to take the job, giving up her hope of becoming a beautician. She was tough, but she still was not so tough, I realize now, looking back.

That's why I'm proud of Kung Fu Kitty. She dumped Lary, but he had it coming. "Stop dropkicking the poor girl, goddammit," I'd bitch to him in her defense. "You're lucky she even looks at you." Yes, don't dropkick Kung Fu Kitty, you fool, she's beautiful and young and scrappy and tough, but still she's not so tough.

Meet Hollis Gillespie and her cohort, Grant Henry, in a combined book signing and Sister Louisa art exhibit Tues., March 7, 7-10 p.m., at Octane Coffee Bar located at 1009 Marietta St. 404-815-9886.

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