BLISTER 


;After a long, blurry week of Mama's Vicodin-'n'-vodka super toothache remedy, the last thing I'm feeling right now is pride. In fact, I'm lucky if I feel anything at all, save some delirium tremens and the haunting suspicion that my entire midsection — near and including my secret place of pride invitation — is caving in on itself. But pride won't wait (although it's been known to shift ahead four months for no apparent reason), and I'm here, queer and used to it.

;;"Here" is the swanky Veranda Bed and Breakfast in stanky Thornton Park, the site of Orlando Weekly's gay charade, the Come Out With Pride Cocktail Party. And because I'm exactly one-half of the paper's gay population, my presence is tacitly implicit and implicitly taciturn. What the hell? I take it up the ass.

;;Rainbow Dem Luis Grajales and an adjacent Ken Kazmerski of the gay history committee must sense it on my toothy face — or know me too well — as after an exchange of self-assured pleasantries, they politely bounce me in the direction of a lineless open bar. I relent and get on with the business of placid mingling, albeit with one eye open. Why? Mostly because I'm under the influence, but also because I'll need at least one eye to spy out the rumored presence of one Jim J. Bullock, he of the dubious trifecta of Hollywood Squares, Too Close for Comfort and Queer Duck. I know Jim won't come easy to me (barring a Tourette's fire-off of "Cocaine! Here!"), so I'll suffer some personal indignities as a kind of subversive rain dance.

;;The levels of said indignity will range from calling Scott Randolph a copycat for his floating head buttons to blurting at the Weekly publisher's floating head that "I am the Orlando Weekly." Basically, it's my standard Andy-Dick-in-a-china-shop routine, the one that has calloused my shame to such a degree that I don't even have regret on my speed dial anymore. When I'm handed a microphone with my more composed Weekly gay half, Graham, to welcome the kind, fey folks who shelled out $25 to be here, all I can muster is a drunken wife's "Heeeyyyyy! Youuuuuuuu!" over the sound of gay crickets giggling. A later attempt at drawing a raffle ticket will obviously result in my bending over and showing my ass for a photo. I hate me.

;;An odd highlight comes when Rick Claggett from Watermark introduces me to a superhot, besuited magician who clearly has more than parlor tricks in mind. I'm way put off, and even more confused, so I play it flirty because that's all I know how to do.

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; "Pick a card," he mentally licks my neck.

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; "OK," I lick something else.

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; "Now put it in your back pocket."

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; "No, you put ‘it' in my ‘back pocket,'" etc.

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; When he guesses by way of reasoning that I "seem like a warm person, and an odd person," and hits it on the head with the five of hearts, I'm almost inconsolably in love.

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;"He's straight and married," Nick smirks.

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;And I've been had. Pride, schmide. I'm out … of here.

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;But not so fast! Just as I'm leaving, I spot Bullock. He's here! So like any latchkey faggot who's ever intentionally sat on his remote control, I dart over and sit on him. Well, not really. I tell him I love him. He loves me, too. Then when somebody is taking our picture, I throatily whisper, "Hump me!" Which he does. Circle gets the square; I've been had by Monroe!

;;Two nights later, in spite of the never-ending existence of RuPaul, I agree to meet my "straight" friends Jeff (Billman!) and his girlfriend Alexis at Parliament House's Pride entry, presumably to drown in liquored irony. I give them the grand tour — Balconies! Bears! — then we lazily settle into stationary drinkers of the courtyard kind. Nothing to report here. Nothing, that is, if you don't consider that 15th-tier celebrity clouding the corner of my eye. I knock over exactly six queer ducks on my path to him, and when I reach him, nothing. He blank-stares and mutters something like, "Nice to see you, too." I've been had by Monroe again. Sniffle.

;;So when Savannah and I take our back-of-the-Weekly-convertible places the next day at the main event, the Come Out With Pride Parade, I'm officially avoiding him like a junkie ex-boyfriend. Savannah's bedazzled her "Billy Manes Mayor of Orlando" T-shirt and turned it into a comely dress, and I'm wearing mine too, because I shouldn't. She's sporting a tiara to match my "Drama Queen" sash, and we're just one Hollywood Square away from Wayland Flowers and Madame. Jim couldn't even touch us with a 10-foot joke about penises.

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;"Wouldn't it be great if we could do this every day?" Savannah pageants into my right ear as 15,000 onlookers occupy my right. "Or maybe this is why all famous people do drugs, because how the hell do you follow this?"

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;How? Well, you run into Jim J. Bullock at the History Center, allow him to smother you with flirtation, then run home and hit the Vicodin-'n'-vodka again. I ain't too proud.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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