We could have done so much better than this. All that promise of youth — the flecked shiny bits in polyurethane roller-skate wheels beaming reflections into personal Xanadus, the hairspray on the shoulder-pad stiffness of walking like a 1984 triangle, the bright-pinkness of the Big League Chew bubble that grew and grew until it threatened to take over the blond front of our hairdos and indeed our entire air-filled heads — it's all gone now. In its place, two late-30s bumps on a couch-shaped log staring back like it's the new forward.

"There is condensation on my hot case," Tony gazes emptily into the hovel dust of my dirty home.

"There is what?" I perk up at some shapeless significance. "Do you mean to tell me that you have undue wetness on your spit guard?"

The goal here, naturally, is to make grinding sex faces out of the most utilitarian mundanity, and seeing as Tony presently makes his living in the meat services industry (ha!), it makes sense that a protective piece of plastic covering his grocery fried chicken would become some twisted metaphor for mustached fellatio. I'm getting hot just thinking about it.

"You should probably do something about the throbbing dew clouding your steaming man-gristle," I place my hands between my thighs and stick my tongue out, unappealingly.

Tonight, you see, is all about overstatement. I've been invited to a marketing event at the new, mysterious Gibson Guitar VIP Showroom downtown intended to showcase the "off the rack" style of marketing upstart the Sigman Warlow Group. And, like everything else that tickles the Orlando nightlife scrotum into momentary action, the invitation comes with a reasonably tragic upsell. In this case, it's of the much-maligned "Party Like a Rockstar!" variety. Oh, no.

"So do I just walk up to the open bar and demand hookers and blow?" I quiz Tony as we approach our rockin' destination. "Or does that come later, like on the tour bus?"

"Yes," Tony Yngwies his Malmsteen. "And yes again."

In truth, this affair is about as rock & roll as an oily hairnet; there are suits and smiles shuffling through dresses and mild ankle tattoos, all aiming for the same dull "networking" tune of surface presentationalism that makes good somehow leap to best. How's work treating you? Great! And your finances? Never better! It's a crazy dance, one that doesn't come without a contact high.

"So how's work?" I play along into the face of gorgeous marketing-type Amanda.

"I hate it," she clearly isn't high enough yet. "I'm telling all my friends that I will give them $1,500 if they give me a job lead that turns into a job."

(Fun! You can e-mail me if you have a job for Amanda and I will in turn make you sort of rich for five seconds.)

Personal tragedy aside, there's a game to be played here and I think I know just what it is. See, when I'm uncomfortable and feeling a bit like an undeserving black sheep kicked out of my woolly comfort zone (or, say, on a pill), I tend toward unpleasant bawdiness. No, I'm serious. Like when Jeremy-in-flip-flops small-talks the presidential debates to me with an "I went to my sister's house because I like to get drunk while watching," I snap back with a less-than-savory "Well, I like to go to my sister's house because I like to fuck during the debates!" Instant crowd-pleaser.

In the elevator with Sentinel diva Mary Frances Emmons, my charm only deepens. "Don't kiss me, I'm sick," is all she has to say for me to conjure up, "Well, I've fucked people for crabs before. I like seafood!" Laughs all around.

When attorney-to-the-boy-band-stars Clay Townsend introduces me to his friends, he's careful to let them know that sometimes I'm a "reporter," and then on the back page …

"Well, there's no telling," I flub. "I just spread my ass cheeks across the page and wait to see what I had for dinner last night."

This, you see, is rock & roll, unlike the manicured, climate-controlled "good life" cellar I find myself tooling around in tonight. Not that it's a bad thing, really. I mean, it's interesting to wander through a guitar museum that's only available to wealthy social aspirants who entertain the whole "rock star" meme while rocking Tommy Bahama shirts. Hell, Sammy Hagar needs somewhere to hide, right?

"Well, it's a place for rock stars to come and chill out when they're in Orlando," explains the too-fabulous-for-words party hostess Carla Warlow only slightly down her nose. "You can just take a guitar off the wall, sit on a couch and play."

"So, there's a need for a quiet place to pluck out Guns N' Roses' ‘Patience' in between heated bouts at the Grand Bohemian pool?" I snark. "Well, there's a segment of the population I'm really concerned about."

And maybe that's the whole problem here: In the context of market crashes and foreclosures, rampant homelessness and unemployment, sad stars falling from a bleak sky, we're all clinging to something that we aren't. By the way, is it really necessary for Orlando to be promoting public arts through the giant, useless GuitarTown, the painted guitars-without-music premise showcased here tonight? Could we all be operating a little more from the ground up rather than the top down? Test. Test. Is this thing on?

"Uh, there is condensation in my hot case," Tony snaps me out of my panty wadding.

Well, wipe it off then.

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