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Search for Nightlife: reporter goes native

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Sister Liz, Reader and Advisor, 1644 N. Damen: The strangest thing happened to Filberta. Most of her life she had been a reporter with a brilliant future in nightlife writing. She would stand on the sidelines interpreting the complex behavior of the clubgoers, interested yet detached--the mark of a professional! Then one day, without warning, Filberta became one of them--living only for pleasure every night of the week. She sold her computer and began wearing a small leopard skin around her hips, a rag tied on top. She had affairs with everyone--the VIP hosts, the DJs, the coat-check people, the pizza-truck driver. She had to change her name to Numbnose. She began skipping meals. On more than one occasion her friend Stevie found her sprawled unconscious on a nightclub floor. When he lifted her head--she was choking from the smoke machine--she rasped, "I've turned into a party girl. There's no turning back."

"You can turn back," Stevie replied, though it was a great sacrifice for him to say so as he enjoyed the use of her VIP cards. "You need professional advice."

Filberta obeyed Stevie and went to see Sister Liz, who is the adviser with the best furniture. She had long yellow-silk provincial couches and lamp shades that looked like ball gowns. In an adjoining room a man slept on a bed, while other family members ate sandwiches and watched television in the kitchen.

Sister Liz was wearing gold earrings and a simple black sheath. "Put $25 in your hand and make two wishes," she said.

"No!" Filberta said. "I need three wishes--health, love, and fame."

"OK, OK." Sister Liz took the money and rocked back and forth, pointing at Filberta's forehead every time she had an insight.

"You are honest."

Filberta yawned.

"You are generous."

Filberta's eyelids grew heavy.

"You are friendly."

Filberta was about to snooze.

"You want to be your own boss. You are high tempered. No luck in marriage. People talk behind your back. You have three lucky days--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday."

Filberta stared at a package of diaper wipes on a glass shelf and thought: This woman thinks I am a friendly, bossy, crabby divorcee and people gossip about my honesty and generosity except on weekends. She must be mistaking me for someone else. She never said anything about my being the toast of Ka-Boom! Nor did she give me any advice.

Filberta went home and called Stevie. "That was a dumb idea. I've just blown $25." She screamed at Stevie for a long time then suddenly she saw a philodendron in the distance. She felt rice falling on her nose and the trembling of seal blubber, which was followed by a violent shaking as if from ague. Then all was quiet.

"What happened?" Stevie asked.

"I don't know, but where did I get this tattoo of all these jungle animals? My hair--I look like a ferret."

"Just as I thought," Stevie said. "You've been under a spell."

"It must be gone. Oh, I'm so happy. Thanks to Sister Liz, I want to be a nightlife writer again--the best nightlife writer in Illinois. I'm going to take more notes than anyone has ever taken--on the glassware, the limes, the speaker cords, the hairspray in the bathroom."

"Will you finish the book on how Marcie lost her headband?"

"Absolutely."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Bachtell.

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