Here in the gaping void between fame and infamy, talent and talk, notability and notoriety, tic and tock, is the spin of my own pink emotional funnel cloud pushing everything swiftly down. Not sure if it was the flu or divine morning sickness, but the prophetic crack-of-dawn nausea that splattered my morning vanity has left me strangely empty. What I could really use right now is some barometric pressure and a pick-me-up.
"What are you doing tonight?" drawls the distant cell-phone concern of my ever-loving, never-here husband.
"Scrubbing the last remains of my dignity from back behind the toilet," I grumble. "Or, picking up a gay award for my gay writing at Hamburger Mary's."
"Ah-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" my own phone seemingly slaps me across the face.
This is a low. Not only am I due to receive a prestigious Watermark WAVE award in the charming climes of deep-fried macaroni and cheese and mushroom balls, but I can't even find anybody to go with me and make it all feel like something more than self-digestion. So, as I perp-walk the distance from my car to Church Street, I'm stuck with the percolating waves of realization that typically occupy the hollow silence between my ears, the resounding chorus of 11 years splashing around in the poorly cut drugs and impotent sex that — when thrown against the wall and left there to cake and rot — spell out "My Life: The Orlando Years." It ain't much.
Fortunately, just outside the greasy yellow haze of gay hamburger personality explosion is my favorite doppelgänger in bleached self-obsession, BabyBlue, herself a little weary from years of throwing her own life against the wall just to see what sticks. She looks me in the eyes, then over my shoulder at the two short-haired women who breeze by me with elbow-touch name recognition, then starts to dictate my thoughts out loud.
"?‘And then two mature lesbians passed by and patted me on the arm,'?" she sighs. "?‘This is what my life has become.'?"
It isn't all quite as dire as my clammy cat-thrown-in-water charm would have you believe, naturally. Inside, the vanity bonfire is casting off some sparkly bits of diversion and, well, there is liquor. Miss Sammy and Carol Lee kick off the proceedings with their tested lounge-act finesse, which obviously means they're singing "Sisters," because they always do.
"We should do this song everywhere we play," Sammy vamps. "Like at the Elks Lodge."
Carol Lee, meanwhile, is about a millimeter away from full eye closure — something involving either diabetes or Hamburger Mary Jane — only occasionally perking up to holler a cocktail order.
"Oh, look! Carol Lee's still with us!" Sammy vamps some more.
The toothsome twosome are soon joined by the comedic stylings of Jeff Jones and his hat, and some joke involving Gallagher that I'll never remember — I immediately forget everything about Gallagher the minute I hear it — painfully follows. Then a Jew joke. Then a Charlie "Crisp" joke. And then everything mutates into a canned ham and is quickly thrown into a deep fryer.
A litany of awards follows, starting with a collection of favorite gay places that doesn't include bathhouses, drug basements, bathroom stalls or my bed. If you listen closely, you can get a pretty good idea of what gay people want to be like: people with plenty of fresh flowers (Lee James), muscles (Metro Muscle) and prohibitively expensive wine (Funky Monkey). Also, they like tight shirts with asymmetrical floral patterns on them. Who knew?
By the time I receive my award — sandwiched up front between a personal trainer and somebody who is clearly personally trained and wearing leather pants — it's starting to feel like all of my flu-fed antipathy was sorely misguided. These are nice people, after all, and they're doing nice things. Even if the award is a piece of blue glass curved into a frown shape, frowns can sometimes be useful, right?
"You know, this would be perfect for cutting lines that you clearly don't want!" I effuse boastingly to gay writer also-rans John Sullivan and Ronni Radner of Watermark, back at our table. "Like, ‘I'm doing coke and I'm sad.'?"
But my blissful narcotic euphoria is slapped back to the floor like so much coke behind so many toilets, when ball-of-pleasure Michael Wanzie takes the stage in full papal drag to accept his best spiritual advisor award for no reason whatsoever. Not because I don't agree with Wanzie's liquor-fueled atheism, or the wrench that he is inevitably always throwing into the machine, but because what was for a moment a pleasant-enough affair of self-congratulation has just turned into a full-on war. I'm scared.
"Get off! Get off!" screams an angered Catholic from the likes-nice-things table of Lady Patty Sheehan, an act that only makes Wanzie's diatribe on the separation of church and state that much louder. Within moments, Wanzie and Sheehan are comfortably nestled back into their personal feud, screaming at the top of their lungs over the futile arbitration of Watermark publisher Tom Dyer.
So what do I do? Well, as favorite gay writer I feel it my duty to interject.
Over in Wanzie's camp, I garble out something about Sheehan's professed anger toward religion during the Amendment 2 fracas, and why is she all of a sudden so pro-God? Over in Sheehan's camp, I try to explain that Wanzie's something of a performance artist and has every right to be angry, and just because you're working in the system doesn't mean that everybody is right now. Back in my head, I regret ever getting involved.
Hello, fame. Hello, infamy. I need to throw firstname.lastname@example.org
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