It used to be that by the time the palpable effervescence of a Saturday sundown rolled past my nose, I was already 10 feet into the closet and buried in the cupcake sprinkles of rhinestones, sequins, tight crotches and shoulder pads, spinning frantically — but somehow rhythmically in time — with the thump-thump of last week's British No. 1 while only slightly under the influence of precisely three fruity drinks. "Thiiiiings can only get BETTTTAHHH!" I would D:Ream along as the prospects of powders and such lit up my pager. Inevitably, they would only get worse.

These days, a more sensible, more married me typically finds his Saturday-night self holding onto his third bite of takeout TooJays while waiting for old-lady Britcoms of the Judi Dench variety to lull me to sleep and quietly whisk away my bedpan. On tonight's As Time Goes By, time literally goes by. To fade.

"Billy?" my phone amplifies a local female hairdressing voice decidedly devoid of a British accent. "I don't know if you know, but Chris and I are having a party tonight for Joel at our house."

"Details, please," my teeth start to chatter.

"Well, it's Joel's birthday and it's also the night of the Miss America pageant, so since Joel's our own Miss America at the salon — besides you, of course — we thought we'd combine the two. There will be a special champagne punch."

"I'm there," I hang up.

Except I'm not.

"Wait a minute," I redial Jen while simultaneously diving into my cupcake closet. "Is this more of an evening-gown segment, or should I aim for swimsuit?"

"Somewhere in between," she cryptically responds, obviously trying to ruin my chances. That bitch.

Sure, going to a party at somebody's house to watch a giant flat-screen television isn't exactly like tripping over Nick Rhodes' wayward lipstick and falling on Andy Warhol at the Palladium, but if I remember correctly, the last time I went to Chris and Jen's — the married proprietors of the scientific lab that miraculously produces the illusion of hair on my head, Copperhead Salon — I ended up raving in a living room and, well, tripping. So, it'll do.

Also, there's an implied Showgirls bitchiness to the proceedings. Chris, it turns out, is responsible for Miss Florida, Sierra Minott's, pageant hair, which means we can all vicariously live through him as we throw marbles down the stairs at the girls who walk in front of her. Yes, this is what it's come to.

Having thrown on some hodgepodge of "these old rags?" labels — Marc Jacobs red-and-black pants with an H&M paisley-embossed black velvet jacket, and a playful splash of Ben Sherman, for those keeping score — I tumble my way into their plantation-style foyer like Scarlett ready to cut a bitch. Of course, everybody else is wearing jeans.

"Oh, I must have misread the invitation …" I feign a fainting spell.

Chirps all around.

Before long, I'm wrapped up in the uneven bobs and color splashes of a hairdresser party, because there really is nowhere better for me to actually fit in.

"How are things with Alan?" Jen bats her false eyelashes at last week's Georgia inferno that was my husband's business. "Chris and I were going to send you a fire extinguisher, but we never got around to it!"

A few drinks later, it's Chris with the repeat: "Did Jen tell you we were going to send you a fire extinguisher?"

I get it! I'm a flaming fag with a flaming future based on a flaming past or something! Now, on with the pageant.

There are painful Broadway numbers followed by hushed judgments from the room that "the singers always win," some pedestrian global-interest questions involving Sarah Palin ("She never even won Miss Alaska! Disqualified!") and whether or not college should be free (no, but it should be affordable, squeaks a probable stripper in competition for a scholarship). And then there's Miss Hawaii, who can best be described as a peacock with double-jointed hips. Our Sierra comes out smiling (and with perfect hair!) to belt some women's lib anthem while ripping her bodice to reveal white beneath her red (?) and waving around a frying pan. The room, clearly, is dazzled. She is so going to win and we are all going to be rich for it.

But that fire is extinguished when Sierra places fourth runner-up, and some squinting eyeshadow hazard from Indiana, Katie Stam, gets the crown, cries and dies inside of one of Mario Lopez's dimples. The end.

At least it should have been. Instead, the party takes on different shapes and sizes involving a YouTube dance-off between Lady GaGa (boo!) and Robyn (yeah!) accompanied by the standard inebriated party stutters of what to do next. Everybody else, apparently still alive, decides to follow their hearts to Pulse. I, perhaps mistakenly, take a cue from Miss Hawaii and disjoint my hips into Peacock Room, where I can be heard troubling a number of ears with unintelligible bleats of "bleeurgh" and "bleeeeh!" before taking my tailfeathers home to an unhappy husband.

"You're drunk," he grumbles over Dame Dench on the TV. "Are you on drugs?"

"No, I'm just a loser," I wipe a rhinestone from my eye. Things always get worse.

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