From the pages of Snowbound, the zine with ice in its veins ¥ Issue number 1 (3023 N. Clark #708, Chicago, IL 60657-5205; $4.75)

Excerpts from:

Escape From Las Vegas

By Maritess Zurbano

I moved away from Chicago in 1992. I was going crazy from being a sixth-year student in art school, and I was bored of the art scene and artists. One hot July weekend, I took a vacation with my cousins to Las Vegas and decided to stay. Vegas’ lack of morals, 1950s architecture, and maverick population made the idea of living there seductive.

I now realize that culture is a precious and rare thing. I’m writing this in one of Las Vegas’ ten Starbucks locations since there are few other non-casino cafes in town. This particular Star-bucks is artsy and homey because they have chairs and tables made from flimsy dark wood that dents and scratches easily for the lived in feel although this cafe is only a few months old. I like it because I can create and wallow in depression and agony in a comfortable setting.

I just finished talking to an attractive 31-year-old white skinhead guy at my favorite table. He was very pleasant company. I had a decaf tall coffee with nonfat milk and he had a regular venti triple vanilla latte. I found out that he works as a pirate at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. He has lived here for most of his life and his name is Eric. I especially liked looking at him in his black leather jacket and snug pants. As he talked I concentrated on his tongue piercing with the little shiny metal ball in the middle. I tried not to hear what he was saying and just watched his mouth and lips and tongue flicker up and down while he talked, like a silent movie. I fantasized how that little silver ball stud piercing could be used in a practical situation.

As he talked, he inched closer, leaning in further, tilting his head in traditional conversation position. He looked into my eyes deeply, yet politely, still flirting while absentmindedly making little clicking sounds with his tongue stud. I involuntarily crossed my legs. I started to really like this guy. We talked about piercing and tattoos and other things we like, so I told him I really liked humus. Then something terrible happened.

He politely asked, “What’s humus?”

My face collapsed. He looked back at me with a blank stare. I suddenly remembered where I was. I was not in some big city where folks knew what humus was. I couldn’t believe he asked me that. Maybe I heard him wrong. I asked him over and over again if he was kidding. Maybe my reaction was out of line. I patiently explained that humus was a Mediterranean dish made basically of garbanzo beans, oil, and tabuleh and he swore up and down that he never heard of or tasted humus in his life. Later, he looked confused when I told him my phone was disconnected and therefore he couldn’t call me. He would have been so perfect if he was quieter.

I can’t say this is the first time this has happened. I should have known better. Last week I was talking to a 38-year-old stripper about a lovely Christmas manger that I saw in another Starbucks the other day.

She asked, “What’s a manger?”

Send zines to the Zine-o-File, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): zine cover.