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On any given Monday afternoon, there exists within my aching connective tissue a divine, unique cocktail, the likes of which would likely burn the tongues off a rabid flock of alcoholic attack Chihuahuas: some steaming alchemy of stress hormones, the pharmaceuticals to numb stress hormones, pain, the pharmaceuticals to counter pain, booze, a fingernail, an amoeba, some unnamed pink pill from the bottom of the closet and some sugar. A tap in my side would seriously cure cancer. I just know it.

But too often it’s just a Monday, and I have to keep my internal mystery elixir to myself while spitting off word-like fumes in the manner of a washing machine set off balance by a particularly lumpy blanket: clank, clank, clank, rumble, clank. You should see me type!

Anyway, today is a different kind of Monday, as downtown condo-life confection Graze has personally invited me to learn about something they’ve termed “mixology” – basically a not-so-big word for pouring Red Bull into anything alcoholic – at the drunk-friendly hour of 4:30 p.m., and I’m all about it.

“What are you doing at 4:30?” I drool a little bit at hot Weekly ad girl Lara.

“Are you hitting on me?” She wiggles in her stilettos and wipes her desk.

“Uh, no. I’m just thirsty.” Pant, pant.

While it might seem like an odd hour to bathe the delirium tremens in liquor salve, there’s a method to this promotion, apparently. The idea is that since Graze (according to its own press release) “has solidified its reputation as the destination for creative cocktails with the announcement of a new partnership with Red Bull,” the high-end Thornton Park eatery/drinkery will share its toxic intelligence with the other bartenders who don’t have to work until 8 p.m. So it’s like school, only a school that you might enjoy.

Lara and I arrive – neither of us in sexy Catholic-school skirts, unfortunately – at exactly 4:33 p.m. and quickly begin to survey just what it is that’s going on amid the tousled, hot-guy bartender types and the emaciated,
siliconed models with which they pick their whitened teeth. My washing machine churns a little. “We should probably start drinking,” I clank. So we do.

First stop: “Outta Time,” which features Red Bull, Bacardi, sugarcane, muddled oranges and lemons, grapefruit juice, mint and a dash of sparkling water.

“Mmm, too much in there.”

“I want to touch your hair,” echoes back over from a conversation I’m not even having. Why does this always happen? What if it were a wig? Wouldn’t I be embarrassed?

“OK!”

She doesn’t, but Maria from Clear Channel does lay into me with all sorts of happy-hour-mom aplomb, screeching here and there about how funny my writing is, or how silly everything is, or how whatever else anything is that can be overstated. She’s a raspy radio gal who is quick to profess that she got into the whole broadcast racket not so much for the frequency of modulation as the frequency of intoxication. I think I love her. She once left a child she was baby-sitting to get into a car full of longhairs, she says. Awesome. I hate kids.

Lara and I scooch over to another table, this one featuring the “Bull Split”: Red Bull (natch), Stoli vanilla, banana liquor and pineapple juice, all served with a chocolate rim (ahem) plus whipped cream with a cherry on top. The gorgeous bartendress mannequin screws up my whipped cream ring, and it unfortunately crosses over.

“I’ll take the one with the AIDS ribbon,” I wink … and shiver a little. “For my peeps.”

What follows is an impromptu photo session orchestrated by Maria that involves an event photographer, myself, my tongue and a tea-bagging demonstration with a cream-coated cherry.

“There’s not enough cream on your FACE!” Maria squawks.

“That’s OK,” I vomit a little. “I keep a little extra back here in my cheek for emergencies.”

Lara jumps in and we attempt to re-create a 9   Weeks/Body Heat moment, to the uncomfortable pleasure of those surrounding, and even manage to pull it off with me licking her cleavage. Lara’s blouse is stained again.

The only problem is, nothing (save Lara’s cleavage) tastes all that good. Like, even though Red Bull is supposed to “give you wings,” cocktails would be better served with a bit of Sprite and perhaps a bump of blow, wouldn’t they?

“Do you have wings yet?” Lara winces.

“No, but it may have stained the wings on my super-secret incontinence panty shields, given that it tastes like the candy of a dirty pedophile just prior to Impala butt-sex,” I make no sense back.

Still, it’s free and it’s full of hot people with rabid attack Chihuahuas probably locked in their condos. Josh Wilson, man-hunk of Channel 9’s old investigative reports, actually invited me here, and now he’s investigatively standing right here in front of me! His friend Steve owns Graze, so that makes sense and I love them both so nothing with cream can happen (plus, there’s the tiny factor that I’m on the cover of THIS VERY Orlando Weekly sealing my own nuptials with a kiss). It doesn’t stop me from re-enacting old Gary Siplin’s “I love you Josh!” scene from the WFTV archives. He is not amused. So I rub his chest.

By the time I’m coughing up a conch fritter that I’ve pretended was a hush puppy, my alchemy is threatening to turn toxic. I don’t know if I’m up or I’m down, but I’m fairly certain that we’re out.

“I like the color of your hair,” comes from an elderly parking garage attendant at the valet station.

It’s a wig. Don’t even start.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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