Dearest kittens, today I'm going to confess to you a very, very embarrassing story that led me to a pivotal, horrifying realization: I'm the crazy ex-girlfriend your parents warned you about.
It's not my most shining of stories, but sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom before you can come out the other side.
Cut to a random night out in Manhattan, winter, 2015.
It is 2 am, and I'm sitting in the back of a yellow cab in the West Village of Manhattan. I've spent the night partying with my Elite Daily editor, Kevin (He's officially edited over 200 of my LONG ASS articles and deserves a f*cking medal for it). We've spent the evening tossing back strong cocktails in Downtown Manhattan.
He's ready to go home, but I'm in this increasingly rare, wild, party-monster mode. I've been uncharacteristically prim as of late (though my definition of "prim" might be questionable), but tonight, I'm back in business, baby.
And for some reason, I'm still sober (high-tolerance alert!) and want to play in the cit-ay. But alas, this town is no place to party alone on a Saturday at 2 am. Even I know that. I slide into a taxi and call my friend Ava* to see if she's still out and about.
She doesn't pick up.
"F*ck it," I think, officially resigning myself to a night in. "I'm going back uptown. I'm going to eat an entire box of chocolate truffles and binge watch something pathetic, like, I don't know, 'The Real L Word' or some sh*t."
Then, the phone rings. It's Ava.
"AVA! BABES! What are you doing?!" I shout into my cell phone. I can tell she's somewhere rowdy and salacious.
"Heyyy Zara! I'm in your nightmare bar. I'm somewhere divey on Delancey. I would invite you, but I know you would hate it here," she shouts back. Her voice sounds raspy, like she's smoked 10 million joints in the past hour.
"F*ck that, I'm going to the Upper East Side." I sigh. What a bust.
"I'm a young woman living in the greatest city on Earth, and I'm wasting my life away watching reality shows about LA lesbians," I melodramatically say to myself, sinking into the faux leather backseat of the cab.
"Why can't we go to like a piano bar on the Upper West Side? Why do you guys always have to be so ratchet," I whine. And just as I'm about to CLICK the phone off and call it a night, she says a pivotal sentence, one that would trigger my dark side, pull out my "inner crazy girl" and let her run wild for the next several hours:
"It's probably for the best. That girl... what's her name? Maya*? She's here."
"See you in 15, bitch. Wait for me outside; that area creeps me the f*ck out," I tell her, hanging up the phone with a newfound purpose. And suddenly, I'm a woman on a mother f*cking mission.
"Taxi, I've changed my mind. Forget the Upper East Side. Take me downtown!" I boldly instruct, an unrecognizable bossiness overtaking my body. I pull my sacred $52 Tom Ford lipstick and gold-gilded compact out of my beat-up Balenciaga bag and begin to adorn my bare lips with the gorgeous magenta color that I always keep on me for emergencies like this. I even take out my mascara and add an extra coat to the ol' lashes for additional DRAMA. I scan my reflection in the tiny gold compact.
Maybe the four vodka sodas are finally kicking in, but I think I look pretty damn good. (Lipstick was smeared across my face, but I felt pretty, so who cares?)
Feelings of an animalistic craziness swelled in my fragile little bones as I exited the taxi, leaving an outrageous tip. (I always overtip in attempts to rid myself of the "bad lesbian tipper" stereotype).
Ava is waiting for me outside, freezing in her navy peacoat. "This is SO not your scene, and I totally know what you're up to," she says, smirking, as I trip over a piece of garbage in my four-inch heels. I pretend not to notice the dirty syringe lying smack in the center of the sidewalk and channel my inner Bambi. I look at her with soft, doe eyes.
"This is totally my scene! Come on Ava! Let's party."
We are ushered in by a large, sniveling bouncer who doesn't believe my British passport is valid identification. "Where's your accent?" he rudely sneers at me. Ugh, I hate this place.
But no amount of rudeness or ratchetry will stop me. I'm officially a woman on the verge, and a woman on the verge can never be stopped. I beeline to the bar.
"Two champagnes and two shots of Fireball!" I ask the bartender, handing over my credit card with the confident aloofness exclusive to trust-fund babies (hardly the case).
Just as I'm downing my Fireball shot with Ava (well, forcing her to take one with me), my lovely ex-girlfriend Layla* comes marching right up to the bar.
"Who the f*ck do you think you're fooling?" she demands. Her expression is both irritated and amused. She looks like a drunk meerkat in skinny jeans.
"What are you talking about?" I so sweetly ask, suddenly a southern belle, batting my spider lashes at her. "I came here to hang out with all of you!"
Ha. What a joke.
Let's cut to the chase: I love my friends. I love my ex (platonically), and we are best friends. But everyone knows that Lower East Side dirty dives full of drunken hipsters just aren't my thing. No matter how much I adore my crew, I notoriously skip out on these kinds of nights. I don't go south of Union Square.
We all knew why I was there: M-a-y-a.
Maya is Layla's ex. My ex's ex, a 20-something from Florida. She had flown north to visit Layla. We've never met face to face, but for some dumb inexplicable reason, we have "bad blood."
As far as I knew, it was her first time in my big, bad, city. I felt young, drunk and ready to mark my territory.
"Zara, stop f*cking around. God you're SUCH an instigator. You know exactly what you're doing. You're marking your territory, you crazy bitch," Layla responds, accurately reading my mind. She's smiling as she says this, because even though she's right, I AM acting like a CRAZY BITCH, she has a weakness for crazy bitches and secretly wants the show.
"Introduce me to her. Break the ice," I demand, my hot pink lips twisting into a wicked smile. All the while, a tiny, rational voice inside of me is saying, "Who are you, ZARA? Quit while you're ahead. GO HOME, GIRL. GO HOME."
But unfortunately, the crazy girl voice is louder.
"Really?" Layla asks, but it isn't a question. It's more of a "really..."
Shooting bullets from her large almond eyes, she drags me to the corner to meet MAYA. I take a sip of my cold champagne, basking in the glorious sensation of tiny little bubbles sifting down my throat. It tastes like ~heaven~.
Minutes later, I'm face-to-face with the famous Maya. I'm clutching my champagne like it's the last champagne on Earth. My nails are sharp and red. I tower over her in my sky-high mega heels. I have my new buttery leather jacket dramatically draped across my bare shoulders. I look at her with big crazy eyes and a massive psychopathic smile.
"So nice to meet you!" I say, with far too much enthusiasm. I probably look and sound like a serial killer. She takes in the sight of me. I can't tell if she's going to beat me up or shake my hand. I meet her eyes with the intensity of a wild animal in heat.
"Welcome to New York," I purr, my voice dropping several octaves. I say it with the underlying bitchiness of a drag queen. She doesn't say a word and gives Layla a long, hard death stare. I throw her some of my famous shade, swill my champagne in my glass and saunter off, my heels loudly clanking against the cement.
The rest of the night, I make a big show of making sure I'm in close vicinity to Maya and Layla. Ava gently attempts to steer me away, but I always make sure I'm close by.
They are on the dance floor -- and OOPZ there I am! I'm like a creepy shadow in a crop top and smudged liner. They are at the bar, and suddenly, OOPZ I need a refill! At this point, I'm pretty tossed myself and in full-blast "LOOK AT ME, BITCHES," drama-queen-from-hell mode. I'm fluffing my hair, and reapplying lipstick, and talking loudly about my wonderful LIFE, making sure I'm SEEN AND HEARD.
My vibe is all, "Bitch, I'm here. You can't get rid of me."
"We're going home, smoking a joint, and I'm putting you to bed. Plus, you need to f*cking eat something," Ava instructs, taking the reigns.
"Okayyyy," I slur. The champagne has clearly gone straight to my brain.
"BYYYYEEEEEE LAYLA!" I yelp, blowing her a totally unnecessary kiss.
The next morning, I wake up on Ava's couch in full eye makeup. There is an empty pizza box lying on her black lacquer coffee table. I feel what my best friend, Owen, refers to as "shame shudders." HUGE shame shudders.
On the Uber ride back uptown, I replay the night in my head. Why, oh dear, WHY did I do that? I'm completely over Layla that way. In fact, I'm knee-deep in a crush with someone else.
What the f*ck is my problem? I stare out the dirty window of the Honda Accord as the city flashes before my sore eyes. The sunlight burns through the window.
Suddenly, I'm hit with a terrifying epiphany of epic proportions. Sh*t. I did this because..... I'm the crazy ex-girlfriend.
Yes, that's right, Kittens. I am an angel. I am a girl's girl. I am giving and selfless. I'm NOT bitchy -- unless I'm your ex-girlfriend. Then, apparently, I can be one crazy whack job.
And that wasn't my first rodeo at being the crazy ex, either. Oh, the things I've done; my toes curl thinking of the manic text messages I've sent and drunken stunts I've pulled whilst in the throes of a jealous rage.
We all make fun of that crazy ex, until we are that crazy ex. I've seen almost all of my friends tap into their inner crazy ex. We will collectively roll our eyes and laugh at the stupidity of another crazy ex, until we find ourselves drunk at a club we hate, swishing champagne in a glass, blowing air kisses and starting trouble.
Once I was uptown, safe at home, I took a long, hard look in the mirror. "This isn't who you are, and it's time to grow the f*ck up," I told myself. I was dripping with the shame. My mother didn't raise me to behave this way.
In that moment, I decided to officially retire my role as the crazy ex-girlfriend and pass the hat off to another chick.
Look, I'm turning 30. Being the crazy ex might be cute or whatever in your 20s, but it's tragic in your 30s. My face crumples in pain as I imagine a future as the crazy 30-something ex. NO. IT. WILL. NOT. HAPPEN.
I'm curious: Now that the crazy ex-girlfriend has left my body, what, or who, will replace her? What will take residence in the empty space she has left behind? Maybe a stable girl who is even-keeled? Maybe karma will bite me in the ass, and I will have a girlfriend who has a crazy ex-girlfriend who torments me?
Maybe a chic French girl will replace her. One can only hope.
But who knows? I'm leaving it up to the stars, baby.
All I can say is, it feels GOOD to let the crazy ex-girlfriend stewing within me go. Bitch was bringing me down, and it's time to hop on the stable train.
*Name has been changed