BLISTER 


;I'm running again.

;;"Are you running again?" grills the reasonably cute goatee vacuuming his car next to my Chevron diesel pump, before adhering to the adhesive of his anti-Bush "01-20-09" bumper sticker, which he totally knows that I should appreciate. "I totally tried to vote for you last time."

;;Aww. No, I'm running late again.

;;Having already chipped my political heel at an unscheduled post-work, post-gay happy hour and afterward flossed with the veins of chicken wings at home with my husband — spitting out the plaque and poultry at his every glance away, like Hillary might — I seem to have momentarily erased my evening's Daytimer plans right along with my appetite. Now what was it I was supposed to do? Eat? No, never. Whitewater?

;;"Speakeasy?" I blistered-thumb-button into my old campaign manager Dave Plotkin's aerospace like he might still care.

;

;"Oh, shit!" he thumbs back. "I didn't realize it was so late!"

;

;The Young (Drunk) Democrats are gathering over at the Antique Row gay hole Lava Lounge, for a very special episode of their Speakeasy monthly drinking — something to do with who was the best at being both young and liberal this year while maintaining an enviable bar tab — and as per a phone call from Christine Aleknavich earlier this week, my presence is expected.

;;"Scott Randolph will be there!" she hardballed.

;

;"Then so shall I," I magnanimoused.

;

;But now, with chicken on my breath and booze in my soul, I'm not feeling that kind of wonky. Sure, I was drunk the whole time that I ran for mayor two years ago — a fete that found me sinus-infecting my short political career shenanigans at this very affair to rapturous, if incredulous, applause — but these days I prefer to leave my politics at the office and save my drinking for small-town bar blackouts. I like to think that I've achieved a healthy balance.

;;"Do you get to expense that?" quizzes a concerned citizen as I stumble up to the bar and order my elixir from a tender named Tadpole.

;;"It depends," I instantly divert to incontinence. "I mean, on what I do with it."

;;Said citizen then skips past me to the man standing directly to my left, Darren Soto, who — in a suit — happens to be running for state representative to fill the District 49 seat that was recently vacated by the person who beat him for the same seat last fall. My politics, at this point, are very blurry.

;

;"What makes you get out there and run?"

;

;"Well, I'm a lawyer," Soto's suit speaks (and pays) for itself. "I've always enjoyed helping people."

;

;Wow, I don't miss that part.

;

;"But would you ever agree to taking off all of your clothes for some sort of charitable ‘Hot Guys of the State House' calendar?" I interject in an attempt to excuse expensing my drink and see Soto naked (totally hot).

;

;"No," he blushes. "But I'm sure you would."

;

;Outside, a small mass of forward-thinking, heavy-drinking liberals are chattering around a table to the booming beat of something by Bananarama. Someone who doesn't look like John Edwards, sadly, is holding a bag full of John Edwards stickers, while I'm waffling not only on my issues, but also on my feet. I close in on wily watchdog Doug Head and slur out an attempt at responsible reporting.

;

;"What's the dirt?" I dirt. "I mean, what's the scoop?" I scoop.

;

;And he proceeds to deliver a long-winded monologue about traveling through opera houses around Europe, his eyes bulging farther and farther out with each detail: "They were naked!" and so forth.

;

;"Great," I stick my drink receipt back into the accounts payable flap of my wallet. "Glad you had fun."

;

;Plotkin and the Randolphs arrive just in time for the awards distribution, and everything is starting to feel a bit like an honors lunch for the high school AV club, except now the gifted kids can drink. Plotkin tries to explain the Darren Soto mailer I'm now holding in my hand (when did I get that?), which he designed, explaining that beyond the "fighting for us" rhetoric of "property taxes" and "special interests," there is a super-double-special, hidden-decoder meaning: a D. Soto code, if you will.

;

;"What, the green tree frog?" I perplex.

;

;"It's a quiet way of confirming that he's Puerto Rican, not Cuban," Dave goes on like I would know the difference. Apparently, that's supposed to work in his favor (like Randolph, only with four legs). When Soto gets up to stump into the microphone, he even references the frog in a roundabout way that almost resembles a joke.

;

;"Haaaaaah!" I blurt above any reasonable decibel level.

;

;You've had a few, haven't you?" another Young Democrat named Nicole (which she has to retell me because I've characteristically forgotten … bad politician!).

;

;"Nope, this is my first," I sway from foot to foot, hoping not to fall over. "Why?"

;

;"Because it wasn't that funny."

;;Frogs, my dear, are always funny. And so are microphones, naturally. By the end of the evening, I've somehow ended up front and center with said amplification device waving in my face at the behest of Christine, who — over the din of people who know that the show is already over — tries to introduce me as the drunken mayor that never was, or something. And with the political poultry fuming up in my throat, my body bouncing up and down in unlikely (and quite likely unattractive) convulsions, I blather out, "I'm running again!"

;

;Clink, talk, clink, laugh … nothing. Just bar noise that would happen if I weren't even here at all.

;

;"Thank you. Thank you. Thank YOU!"

; bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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