You would think that my cancer assassin wig is influenced by Louise Brooks or Pulp Fiction’s, Mia Wallace—it’s not—but I say it is. It’s Erika. It was Erika’s haircut that made her look like an aging Lolita—19—she already looked like Isabella Rossellini before she even looked like herself in Death Becomes Her three-years later. Erika had snow-white skin and I loved the way her collarbone was displayed perfectly in her strapless white dress with the aurora borealis rhinestones that she wore for an East L.A. party in 1989. Her finely drawn collarbone perfectly framed the fake diamond necklace she wore, which twinkled in my six-year-old’s eyes.
Watching her dress was always my favorite memory of her. She dressed in my room while Kim Carne’s Bettie Davis Eyes played on her portable AM/FM cassette player. I would help her zip up the part of the dress that a woman can never reached, I carefully studied her as she looked at her face in the mirror closet. Her eyes looked like golden holograms with sparks of green. Watching Erika apply her red lipstick was my favorite part. When the light shined her lips, it would look as if her red lips softly kissed gold dust. Her make up was done.
I remember jumping up and down the bed, as she’d slide the closet mirror and ask me which dress I wanted to wear. After I rejected the long-sleeved purple and white chiffon dress that made me itch, and the blue monstrosity of a sailor dress, I chose my red and white dress with tulle that gave a prismatic effect. The matching sash would match her lips and the iridescent tulle, her eyes. She picked out my matching ankle ruffled socks while she looked for her stockings in our shabby cheap dresser drawer. It was a pair of black fishnet stockings. I asked her why she wasn’t putting on a pair of white stockings in my broken Spanish. She told me that matching head-to-toe isn’t always a good thing as she slipped on her red pumps just like Cinderella.
The East L.A. wedding reception was held in a small park auditorium but I didn’t know any of the kids there. The bass coming from the DJ’s speakers were hurting my ears so I would spend most of the time sitting on Erika’s lap. I loved it when she hugged me and her hair would get in my face. She started rocking me to sleep because she knew I was bored and tired, but it didn’t stop her from bumping my head on the edge of the table as she would reach for her beer.
She was shaped like her favorite Giorgio Beverly Hills perfume bottle (she smelled like it too) and I think that’s why all boys wanted to dance with her. Especially, when the DJ miraculous played English music to appease all the teenagers and young adults. I think the DJ knew Erika’s favorite song was Bette Davis Eyes because as soon as she heard the bass vibrate off the disco ball light, she swayed onto the dance floor. All the boys followed her lead onto the dance floor forming a circle around her. She shined like a music video and you would think she really was the dancing shadow behind Kim Carnes. She’d tease the boys and unease them and even made some pros blush while she pretended to slap them. When the song was over, she threw them all like they were dice, it was a glamorous image for a sleepy six-year-old.