Contributor: David Macpherson

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She used to work at a high end dress boutique called Tsunami. Well, high end for a store in a mall. I didn’t know her. This was the only time I ever met her. She was the girlfriend of a guy who was kind of a friend of the circle I hung with. For New Year’s Eve 2004 we all met to drink in 2005 at the Olde Village Pub. It was dark wooded like an Irish Bar, but the only food you could get from the kitchen was burritos.

She was in this short black dress that I guess was stylish. I told her it was nice. She whispered the designer’s name to me as if she was giving me insider info on a stock. She said, “I haven’t worn this thing since the store I worked in closed up, like 5 years ago. Can you believe it still fits so good?” This was not a question you would want to answer with her boyfriend leaning into her. I drank my beer.

She said, “It was a second job, to cover my bills. Part of the deal of working at Tsunami was you had to wear clothes that were sold there. So I had to buy one. My first 4 paychecks went just for this dress. For a month I was working for free. Every day I was there I was in this. I would let it go pretty ripe before I’d dry clean it. It was a pain in the ass. That life at Tsunami, really boring and very stylish. Do you know what the death toll is?” she asked.

I stared at her. “Death toll,” I asked, “Is that a band?”

“No,” she said, “The Death toll in Asia. With the tidal wave. With all the flooding. The one in the news.”

I looked at the group of friends and shrugged. Pete said, “Last I heard it was a hundred thousand but it's too early to say. “ With Regis Philbin on the TV at Times Square, it was the first time in days we hadn’t seen the footage, watched the wreckage.

The girl said, “I haven’t worn this dress since the store closed. I was supposed to look good, make the customers want to look like me. Buy dresses like this. It still looks good.”

After midnight, we hugged and sang the 7 or 8 words we knew of Auld Lang Syne. We decided to go to Jay C’s for some serious drinking. We danced into our coats and hit the cold air. The girl put her hand on the neck of her dress and said, “This thing is so hot and awful.” She pulled down and the fabric ripped halfway down her front. She pushed it off her and was naked. Without another word she ran up the street towards Franklin Ave.

Her boyfriend raced to catch her, taking his coat off as he ran so he could put it around her when he intercepted her. It seemed like a well rehearsed motion, as if he had practice doing it. After a second, the rest of us silently headed towards our next bar. I looked back once towards the broken dress crumpled on the sidewalk and turned again, leaving it behind us like the rest of last year’s bad news.

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