AND WE BOUNCE 


As is standard on days bordering overuse of L-tryptophan and travel, I'm sipping hard at the plastic tumbler of melancholy coffee-tabled before me tonight. Not sure what it is really, just perhaps the dandruff-like explosion of artificial dry heat and rising barometric pressure colliding, or maybe the fact that alcohol is indeed a depressant. Either way, I'm feeling independent (meaning lonely, not strong) tonight, and I'm pretty sure I could either crawl into a bar or crawl under the bed and not know the difference. Woe is me.

At some point while measuring the distance between codependent and independent (similar to the length of the inseam between a ragged crotch and an expensive shoe, I presume), the idea hits me. Didn't I hear that Southern Nights has an "Indie Tuesday" and didn't I subsequently scoff, roll my eyes and say something like, "They wouldn't know indie if it tore them apart … again"? Because if you think about it, an indie night at a gay bar these days sounds more like a lube-free singles party for people who don't like to talk. And, at least tonight, that sounds fun. Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1995.

Characteristically, I'm overdressing the situation, throwing on baggy jeans, a baggy jacket and baggy eyes (sadly, no other baggies), skulking around my bedroom to Pulp's "Common People," etc. A panty check reveals little or no (train)spotting, and I'm as Happy as a Monday. As of yet, I've found nobody to share in my 10-year reunion with my coke-addled self (minus the coke), but independence is the theme of the evening anyway. I can do it on my own.

No, I can't.

Instead, I round up a gaggle of misshapes and hop in the Jetta for a deluded night on the town in the burbs. Nobody in the car is over 30, so nobody knows I'm playing some obscurity by '90s ambient airheads One Dove and really, nobody cares. It's a free-cover-$2-drink night out; the sales pitch is drowned beneath an aural airplane hangar of "la, la, la, la."

I'm carded at the door, which to me means I'm totally 23, and the evening begins to unfold swimmingly. Except there may be a shark in the pool. A few months ago I wrote a nasty bit about an unnamed faux-hawk and his wandering tongue, prompting said tongue to grow fingers and e-mail me a diatribe about how awful a person I was and how nothing I said was true, adding that Hurricane Katrina had destroyed his family's lives and now I had destroyed his. I felt bad, but not that bad … after all, I didn't use his name and he did violate my space, yell at my friends and get carried out of the bar. Anyway, bygones being bygone, I think I catch a glimpse of him at the back bar.

"I think faux-hawk's here!" I faux-hawk into my cell phone at my accomplice from the evening in question, Tony.

"I'm so there," Tony throws on a ripped shirt. Because that's what friends do. They show up to point and laugh with you.

Meanwhile, my satirical ambivalence is giving way to genuine excitement. The music (provided by I-Bar's Smilin' Dan) is fantastic, riding that zeitgeist that somehow connects John Hughes' bedroom-scene posters and the Killers, and I feel both young and old at the very same time. Me!

Tony shows up and confirms that seen faux-hawk is not said faux-hawk, but just one of many faux-hawks faux-hawking their way through faux-nights at faux-bars in a faux-city.

"My faux pas!" I think I'm funny, only out loud. Nobody laughs.

My gal pal, who insists tonight on being called Penulta ("like penultimate"), surveys the situation at shaking hand.

"I was thinking if there was one straight guy in this place," she gazes through goggles of beer, "what exactly are my chances?"

Another girlfriend points out to me what she thinks is a full-on Jordan Catalano sitting across the bar. I explain to her that he is much more likely a Jesse McCartney, or worse, a post-pubescent Aaron Carter; she cringes. And amidst numerous references to Laguna Beach and the Escalade it rode in on, we're so having a good time.

"Why's that skinny fag got such a big gut?" I have no tact. "Is it distended?"

"Is it diseased?" my darker-skinned friend plays along.

"Is it a bee?" I'm Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous and welcome to my gracious drawing room.

Anyway, any indie pretense has given way to a celebratory cultural mash-up, peaking with a number of us incorporating Madonna's Jazzercise routine from "Hung Up" into just about every song. "I wanna take you to a gay bar!" seethes from the blurred woofers, and we bounce. "Feel Good, Inc." by the Gorillaz fills the floor (with, say, 10 people), and we bounce.

"I'm totally going postal!" I misguidedly effuse as the tinny beginnings of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" is serviced, postally. And we bounce.

"This is like the high-school dance that all the gay kids wanted," Tony throws his arms in the air and backs up, hunched over in a way that might make Robert Smith proud.

And although "indie" never seems to end – constantly reinventing itself as the next kid at the back of the class – tonight, like 1995, apparently needs to.

Penulta is monitoring my facial expressions and surmises that the ratio between "fun" and "jaded" poses is becoming alarmingly close, prompting her to initiate our exit. Which is wise.

I'm better off taking my independent ass to bed.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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