A Visual Feast by Jennifer Anthony

2 August 2008

Kyoko strode toward Peep with a serious, purposeful expression on her face. Inwardly, she was chuckling at herself for getting talked into yet another crazy event – this time an impromptu eye gazing party at the little Thai restaurant in SoHo, arranged by her friend Luz.

Luz had gasped at her ignorance about eye gazing parties. “They’re like speed dating, except you bypass all the small talk and just stare into each other’s eyes,” she explained. “They were started by a salsa dance teacher like, three years ago?”.

“So why now?” Kyoko had asked her, chuckling.
“Because we’ve cut out the middleman, scooped up fourteen willing and gorgeous lesbians, added food to the equation to make it even more ridiculous, and found the perfect place to host it,” Luz had explained.

Kyoko slipped into the narrow restaurant and toward the long line of tables that had been squeezed together for the party. It was the perfect venue for a visually themed event: the floor was polished aluminum, the ceiling was mirrored, and even the chandeliers were made of mirrored aluminum. Eyes were everywhere, it seemed.

After the rest of the group had filtered in, Luz materialized at the end of the table. “We’ll get started in two minutes, everyone! I’ve already ordered the prix fix so there will be no talking until we’re done, so if someone is crazy enough to not want the salmon with a macadamia nut crust, speak up now.”

As the group tittered nervously, Kyoko stole into the bathroom to check her hair and makeup. If she wasn’t allowed to speak, she had better make damn sure that she looked good. She dabbed on a little lipstick, turned around – and realized that she could spy on the dining room through the bathroom door.

On the other side of the door stood Nerissa, the bartender and performance artist from her apartment whom she had been crushing on for months. Kyoko smiled and waved tentatively to make sure it was one-way glass, but Nerissa continued to stare at herself and primp, oblivious to Kyoko’s voyeurism.

Nerissa’s long black hair flowed down around her bare, toned shoulders, and she had switched out her usual tattered Converse sneakers for a new pair of metallic rainbow-striped Chuck Taylors. She was stunning, despite a lack of makeup and the profoundly casual outfit.

Kyoko waited until Nerissa had wandered over to the table before leaving the bathroom. When Nerissa sat at the far end of the table, Kyoko scurried toward the opposite end, to make sure that her eyes would be the last ones that the hottie would see.

As the waiter brought small plates of scallop ceviche, crispy gingered calamari, and ebi and crab croquettes, the fourteen women settled into their chairs, preparing themselves for the event. They would gaze into each other’s eyes for five minutes, and then one side of the table would rotate, taking their plates with them.

Luz hadn’t lied: she had brought together what was possibly one of the finest groups of lesbians Kyoko had seen gathered in one place. The first woman was a petite redhead with twinkling green eyes that promised mischief. The second had cropped mahogany hair and enormous cobalt blue eyes filled with sweet innocence. The third had tied her long blond hair into a ponytail so tight that it gave her a look of constant bewilderment.

At first it had been difficult not to giggle or fidget, but Kyoko’s cocktail was helping her relax into the bizarre groove of the night. And yet, she couldn’t stop herself from stealing quick glances down the table toward Nerissa, and was sure that her looks were being volleyed back.

Two cocktails and half a macadamia nut-encrusted slab of salmon later, Kyoko was just two women away from Nerissa. She was having a difficult time concentrating on her new partner’s eyes, which had narrowed in a beady and slightly threatening way.

“Oh, brother,” the woman said finally. “Why don’t you just go over there and make out with her already?” She scowled and jabbed a thumb toward Nerissa.

The rest of the tablemates gasped.

“No talking!” Luz said.

The woman across from Kyoko stood and smiled for the first time. “Look, I think we all know who we’re interested in by now. My personal favorite is the blonde,” she said, pointing at the severely pony-tailed woman.

Laughter bubbled up from the table.

“Would people rather talk now?” Luz asked, her eyebrows knitted in worry.

“Yes!” the group cried, in unison. The women scrambled out of their chairs to sit with their preferred partners.

Not about to lose the seat she’d been coveting all night, Kyoko made a dash for the chair across from Nerissa. Her new tablemate’s smile was sly and provocative.

“I’m fine with just looking,” Nerissa said. Her gaze wandered over Kyoko’s mouth, chest and hands before returning to her eyes and staring, hard.

Kyoko nodded. She could stare all night.

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