"I hate her for this."
Taylor's wheezing limbs, glued together by divine phlegmatic cohesion, crop up on a corner of the bar at Revolution, while my disintegrating personage floats somewhere in the ether nearby, just hovering there like a burnout mark on film with moving color pictures acting and reacting all around. There's a certain numbness to the festivities, a fuzzed-out sound field of white noise that doesn't so much cushion the clumsy choreography of life's bitch pageant as it does suspend it. It's been a shit year on top of a shit lifetime, and just about the last thing either of us need right now is a revisit to the talk and talk of 1984 by way of some 2003 karaoke from Gwen Stefani and the doubtless band that brung her. But there it is, playing out on the flat-screen distraction just above the melee: "It's my life, don't you forget."
"It's my death," I glare at Gwen's dated fashion show. "It never ends."
Dead-dog glumness intentionally pushed aside — Taylor is wearing a bright blue T-shirt with the eyes and mouth of Cookie Monster on it, after all — tonight is intended to achieve something close to the opposite of a tear. There's best-friend mercy to the madness of parading my bereft corpse into the dull glow of Tuesday-night queer-bar shenanigans, the kind of mercy that feels like a "snap out of it" slap across the frown, and that's probably a good thing. It just doesn't feel like it yet.
"There's plenty of mess to just spin around in and point and laugh at," Taylor coughs, laughs, coughs. "Like that over there. I can assure you that that has been brought to you by Xanax, coke, liquor, coke and Xanax."
"That's what we call ‘spackle' in the business," I smudge a void. Oh, look, it's already working!
Appropriately enough, this evening's themed enterprise is called TurnAbout, a vague bit of queer bar parlance that somehow finds the bartending staff (usually, but not always, men) pancaking their faces into plasticine pouts while the drag queens (again, usually, but not always still men) slick back their real hair and slip on a tie. It's fun with gender role reversals amped up on poppers to the point that there is no real reversal, just some musical-chairs act to find any gender that will seat you. Over here is Revolution stalwart Dan Fraser tented and tarted up in a muumuu with giant Reba hair to match; over there is glamorous lip warbler Danielle Hunter dressed down to some approximation of Annie Lennox trying to look like a man. A musclebound, bewigged bartender shuffles by barefoot (but for the leggings) with all of the chain-link sparkle of a Cher nightmare. And here we stand virtually unmoved. Well, I am anyway.
"I can't believe you said that. I'm going to have to give you a stern talking-to when we get home." Taylor seems to be chasing his own tail. "Oh my god, I can't believe I just had an argument with myself. You know how some people have imaginary friends? My imaginary friend is myself," he clears everything up.
The crowd starts to swell to the point that we're actually in conversations and not just avoiding them. Tracey, a bartendress who happens to sometimes work here, inadvertently breaks her bosoms into our emotional vacuum and squirts out something like, "I threw this together in just 20 minutes," meaning her revealing evening gown, beaded bits and stapled-on auburn tresses. "I mean, I just left the salon, then I'm coming here to do a number, they said I could go first, so then I'm out. I've got to go from here to Rain and work a beer tub. Speaking of the salon, you guys should get facials."
"Spa day!" Taylor's pores scream.
"I don't do microdermabrasion out of my house, but I do do facials, so if you come over we can cook dinner and have wine! Here's my card, gotta go, bye!"
"You do realize what just happened there," my powers of useless association return for a moment. "We have just witnessed the rebirth of Demi Moore in her pivotal raspy role as stepmonster catsuit Jules in St. Elmo's Fire."
But while that would typically be enough to light up my internal neon Billy Idol wall mural and toss my troubles into a room with Rob Lowe, who is losing his hair in clumps because we're all going through this, it just leaves me feeling cold and old. Also, it doesn't help that bar manager Cindy Barbalock is in the wings with advice like, "There's a whole new generation of kids around here; they don't give a shit about anything" — anything meaning me (at least to me). Sigh.
"You know," Taylor's crazy Cookie Monster eyes cross a little, "while I was sick in bed I watched a whole season of True Blood, which is awful, but there was this line in there that stuck with me, something like, ‘Don't think of it as everything being taken away from you, think of it as everything that was keeping you from starting your new life being removed.' Does that help?"
Not really. Nor does the actual TurnAbout show consisting of clumsy men in heels serenading bottles of vodka with Pink's "Please Don't Leave Me" or doing a medley of hand-themed songs — Jewel's "Hands," Alanis' "Hand in My Pocket," etc. — with Kristen Wiig baby hands a-waving. It seems that nothing can truly yank me from this bed of irony filings that I've made.
Nothing, maybe, but Taylor.
Back at my house, while my new puppies whimper their new needs from their new kennel, Taylor makes a rather desperate move.
"I'm throwing away your white lighter," he says without a hint of crazy. "You know, the white lighter conspiracy? Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix: They all had white lighters on them when they died. I'm dead serious." He laughs.
"No, you're not." I pluck the Bic from the garbage can. "It's my death."email@example.com
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