Stephanie Valente: 'Baby, Look at All of These Schmucks'

Stephanie Valente: 'Baby, Look at All of These Schmucks'
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This is an editor special feature. 


For a while, you live in California. Neither of you truly like it, but you love each other. You both love going to parties. On Saturday, there is a Hollywood party: martinis, weird appetizers from the 1950s, your man in a tux, you in white feathers, and those silver shoes with clear heels. When you walk up the stairs to the party, he calls you his little Ziegfeld girl.

Jimmy comes to the party with his beautiful wife. You smile. You want to be her friend. The thought of doing each other's nails in a bright, bright blood red makes you smile. You hope Jimmy’s wife feels the same. It would be nice to have a girlfriend, someone else who understands what it means to be married. To laugh.

Your husband clutches your hand. He smells like musk mingled with Parliaments. You both still don't know cigarettes are bad for you. You teeter in the heels. It's a little embarrassing, but you hope he notices. It feels a little sexy. You want him to steady you.

Walter grabs two martinis and hands you one. Sip. Slowly. These damn glasses are always overfilled. He touches your left wrist, the spot where you always put perfume. Errol Flynn is hanging around. He’s been in the room for longer than you realize. He's probably staring at your ass. The perv. Press your red lips together. Everything is red these days. It's trendy. Your fake eyelashes pinch so slightly, but only when you blink. You know Walter likes it when you bat your lashes. So you do.

He places a hand on your lower back. Your chest flutters. Racy. Familiar. Good. You smell the cigarette cologne again. Part of you is waiting for Paul Newman, too.

"Baby, look at all of these schmucks," Walter says.

You laugh and laugh and laugh. It will be some party. You finish the martini. Kiss him.

Stephanie Valente lives in Brooklyn, NY. She has published Hotel Ghost (Bottlecap Press, 2015) and waiting for the end of the world (Bottlecap Press, 2017) and has work included in Susan, TL;DR, and Cosmonauts Avenue. Sometimes, she feels human.