It really was too humiliating. Normally, insults affected Diana about as much as foam rubber battering a marble statue. It wasn't even anything they said--Diana was well aware that she didn't have a voice like Chaka Khan, and she could certainly care less if her looks weren't in the same league as Suzy's. It was the fact that they said it. Diana was used to being fawned over in the local music scene; as music editor at Cutting Edges, she had clout. If she wanted to, she could make or break a band. At the moment she felt like breaking one.

Instead, she swung herself on her bike and headed for the second band of the evening, pushing the pedals with a passion. Crossing the bridge, she easily kept up with the flow of traffic. Admittedly, they were Oregon drivers, not the most aggressive of the species, but she must have been pushing thirty in more than just years. On a level stretch. Next she'd have to get a speedometer so she'd know and could brag about it.

By the time Diana had eaten up a couple of miles and arrived sweaty and exhilarated at the next pseudo audition, she had recovered enough to face anything. She thought. As she entered yet another room covered with egg cartons, she was stunned into speechlessness. She wished there had been nothing but egg cartons covering those walls.

Instead of the standard practice room fare of inspirational bands and musicians, the walls between the egg cartons were plastered with pornographic posters. Centerfolds. Wherever she turned, the room was populated by naked women in postures of blatant invitation, tongues touching moist red lips, unnaturally huge breasts proffered for approval. Diana had nothing against eroticism but she could see no relationship between that and this. Of course, she too had peered into discarded Playboys with pubescent curiosity as a kid, but she felt like this was her first confrontation with girlie pictures.

Peter, the guitar player she'd talked to on the phone, introduced her to the other band members while she frantically tried to rationalize her reaction out of existence. She was tolerant--morally at least. She wasn't a prude. The guys in the band weren't perverts, whatever that might be. They all seemed quite normal. They looked like mailmen. Just a couple of older, respectable, middle-class hobby musicians who'd given up any musical ambitions long ago. A wise decision, judging from the song they played for her.

Diana could hardly look them in the eyes. She felt shocked and shamed, as if she herself were hanging there on the walls. Absurd, of course. The voluptuous vamps had so little resemblance to Diana that they hardly looked as if they belonged to the same gender. Diana devoutly wished that had been the case. The genre at least was decidedly different; the women on the walls were parodies of the female, distorting proportions to exaggerate everything that provided sexual titillation to the male. Balloon breasts. In the middle of the song, Diana began to giggle uncontrollably.

"Sorry guys, but I gotta go," Diana said and fled.

Peter followed her out. "Were we that bad?"

"Not that bad. But it just wasn't my thing."

"Can I give you a ride home?"

"What would I do with my bike?" Diana replied, bending down to unlock it.

"Maybe we should have taken the pictures off the walls, huh?"

Diana looked at him, disbelief settling in her eyes. "That might have been a good idea."


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