After Regis and Kelly, everyone piled back into the large black van that had brought us to the studio. Howie leaned over and give the driver an address.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“We need to meet with the people overseeing our outfits for the video,” Howie explained.
“I can’t wait to see Baylee,” Leighanne said, smiling down at her blonde cherub.
“Grrr,” Baylee growled, holding up his “claws.”
The van inched along slowly in the New York traffic. I watched as people darted in front of cars left and right. I was horrified, but both drivers and pedestrians worked together in a language of hand gestures and honks; they took it all in stride.
Only in New York, I thought.
We hit a traffic snag. Even with the air conditioning blaring, the temperature in the van was rising as we crept along. To make matters worse, AJ began a rousing edition of 99 Bottles of Pop on the wall, which Baylee energetically joined. I was just contemplating jumping out of the car, traffic be damned, when Howie spoke up.
“The place is only two blocks away. Let’s just walk,” he said, flinging the door open and jumping out. Like me, I think he had heard about one bottle of pop too many.
After the short walk, we headed into a rather plain cinderblock building. The inside was anything but plain. The place was wall to wall costumes. I couldn’t even tell what color the walls were; clothes hung almost to the ceiling.
A woman with the most amazing shade of violet hair met us at the door.
“We’ve been waiting for you guys,” she said. “Guys, you’re going to go with Denise. Girls, you’re coming with me. I’m Bianca.”
I rummaged through my bag, pulling out my camera. Turning it on, I began to follow the guys.
“What are you doing?” Nick said, stopping outside of the room where the Boys’ costumes hung on a large rack.
“I want to get some film of you guys getting fitted in the costumes,” I explained, waving the camera back and forth across his face.
“You’ve got to go with the girls,” Nick said, turning me around. I looked over my shoulder at him.
“You’ve got to get fitted.”
I switched off the camera, frowning.
What are you talking about?”
“You’ve got to get fitted for your costumes for the video.”
“Whoa,” I held up my hand. “Back up.,” I laughed. “I thought I heard you just say I was wearing a costume.”
“Two costumes. The mummy costume and the gold dress.”
I backed away from him, shaking my head from side to side.
“Oh, no, no, no. That’s not going to happen.”
“What do you mean?” Nick said, closing the gap I had created between us. He gave me large puppy eyes. “Won’t you be my mummy?”
“NO!” I said.
“I told you this was going to happen,” I heard Brian say to the other guys.
“Please?” Nick said. “I already kinda sorta told everyone you’d do it,” he said.
I shook my finger at him.
“Don’t think you’re going to guilt trip me, Carter.”
“C’mon. It’ll be fun. “
“No.” I began to walk off. All of a sudden I felt his arms wrap around my left leg. I looked down to see him on his knees, clinging to me like a two year old.
“Nick, I don’t dance.”
"Look dude, he’s groveling,” AJ said from the doorway. Howie and Brian peered out around him, snickering. Nick glared in their direction, standing up. He tugged me out of view of the room.
“Livvy, it’ll be fun. It was your idea. I want you to fully experience your idea coming to life,” he said gently.
“But, Nick,” I argued. “I don’t dance.”
“Fatima will teach you. You think Leigh knows how to dance? Before she married Howie she sold real estate for a living. C’mon.”
I turned to look in the direction of the girl’s dressing room. I could see Leigh twirling in a corseted red dress. She looked so excited.
“I can’t believe this,” I muttered. I started to walk towards the room.
“Does that mean you’ll do it?” Nick called after me.
“I didn’t say yes, yet!”
“But you will,” Nick said.
Ignoring him, I entered the room. Leigh was still twirling; Rochelle looked stunning in an almost identical representation of the red off the shoulder Phantom dress.
“That’s beautiful,” I said. Rochelle grinned.
“Olivia?” Bianca asked, walking up to me with a bag slung over her arm.
“Yes,” I said reluctantly.
“Here’s your costume,” she said. “Let’s see how it fits.”
Fifteen minutes later I stood in absolute horror. The mummy outfit clung to me like a second skin.
“Oh, it fits perfect,” Bianca gushed, circling around me.
“Perfect? Perfect?” I looked at her like she was out of her mind. “This thing is too tight!”
“It’s supposed to be tight,” Bianca explained. “You’re a mummy. You’re wrapped.”
“You look great,” Leighanne said.
“Easy for you to say! You’re costume is pajamas.” I pointed to Leigh and Rochelle. “And you guys get to wear dresses. How is this fair?”
“Well,” Rochelle said, grabbing the production notes. “It says here that Nick sees your backside as you’re walking away. That’s not that bad. It’s not like you’re going full frontal.”
I rolled my eyes. “Do you see this backside?” I pointed. “You could land a plane on it.”
“Are you kidding me?” Leigh piped up. “You look great. Your ass looks great.”
“How much did Nick pay you?” I said. Leighanne laughed. “You know if you quit worrying, you might just have fun. A smart Kentucky boy told me that a long time ago.”
I knew in the deep recesses of my mind that she was right. I took off the mummy costume, switching it for the gold corset dress. The girls whistled.
“Wait until Nick gets a load of that.” Rochelle said, walking around me.
I stared into the full length mirror and slowly turned. I was in love.
With a dress.
“Well, this kind of makes up for the mummy,” I admitted.
“How are we doing ladies?” Howie said, poking his head in. I recognized the long black vintage shirt that opened to reveal his smooth chest. It was like rewinding time back thirteen years. He wolf whistled. “Love those dresses.” He looked at Leigh. “Can we keep that?” he said suggestively.
“We’ll see,” she answered back with a mischievous smile. Placing her hand gently on his face, she softly pushed him out of the room. “Now scoot.”
At that point, Bianca went around, putting a few pins and tucks in each of our dresses. Finally, she stepped back, clapping her hands.
“You guys made it easy. We’re all done; get dressed. I’ll have them at the location for you the day after tomorrow.”
I bagged up the two costumes, still eyeing the mummy suit with derision. For the next two days it looked like the only food in my future would be lettuce; hold the dressing, please.
We walked out of the dressing room to see the guys already assembled.
“All set?” AJ asked. We nodded.
“How’d your fitting go?” Rochelle asked, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“Oh fine,” AJ replied breezily.
“He’s having them add more material to his shirt,” Brian said, grinning. “His six pack has turned into a two
pack.” AJ scowled.
“How’s my mummy?” Nick said, turning his attention, and his grin, on me.
“Shut up,” I said with a laugh. Nick slipped my equipment bag off my shoulder and carried it to the van.
“Why thank you,” I said. “You are such a suck-up.”
“Alright, now we’re off to Ellen,” Howie said, glancing at his watch.
“56 bottles of pop on the wallll,” AJ began to sing.
“No!” Howie said. “No more. We better work on our harmonies on the way there, we’re cutting it close.”
“I love the Ellen show,” I gushed. “Does she have a green room?” I said as I buckled in.
“Yup,” Brian said, his blue eyes sparkling.
“I heard it’s orange.”