Blister 


"It's not going to stop. It's not going to stop. It's not going to stop 'til you wise up," wilts severity case Aimee Mann as my worn-out Magnolia DVD comes to its frog-falling crescendo.

And here at the corner of Edgewater and Vassar (clearly nowhere near Magnolia), I'm not sure where it's all supposed to even start. Having weathered my own series of amphibian droppings throughout a week of bad moods and bad food, I'd be content to wobble my Julianne Moore ass into a pharmacy just to yell at a junior pharmacist for not knocking me out with morphine.

Fortunately, I've commandeered my friend Jessica for a night of emotional editing and difficult word choice. We're headed to K for dinner, ostensibly to raise our brows and lower our savings as some kind of preparation for the dark hum of an Aimee Mann concert.

"My man's out of town," I shakily explain. "So I guess an Aimee Mann will have to do."

As any astute reader of this hideous decoder-ring serial might discern, this may not be a good idea. Last time Aimee Mann was in town, yours truly took a drunken turn for the worse and girl-drunk-tripped over a front porch chair, only to impale his five-head upon a coat hook, an act that resulted in a scar-still-there and a ridiculous ambulance bill to match a ridiculous ambulance trip.

"I'm sooooo ugly … now," I blithered in the back to Alan, paramedics akimbo.

"No you're not. You're beautiful!" he lied brilliantly, etc.

So it's with a caretaker's gaze that Jessica is holding up my right side as I shuffle through College Park. As black humor would have it, I'm wearing the same yellow jacket that I wore that night, only now it features telltale bloodstains, and as for the rest of the omens? They're not so hot either. We breeze past one storefront only to catch a nasty, out-of-context gaze from an ominous older figure that can best be described as Tim Gunn from Project Runway. I'm out. Two stores down, in the same menacing position, a frightening likeness of Damien from The Omen seems to be pulling my own self-destruction metaphor down into the nether regions of hell. I'm dead. This is going to be a wonderful night.

Finally at our table, Jessica pulls her best Florence Nightingale.

"You're a Lincolnshire Poacher!" she charms from the other side of a cheese list. "Spritzy, acidic and fruity at the end. That should be the name of your column: Fruity at the End."

I'm instantly thrown into a vanity tizzy of my own, caused in no small part by a $10 glass of "buttery" wine. "How about Bottom Feeder, or Fruit at the Bottom, or simply The Bitter End?"

This is depressing, and I am officially depressed. Anyway, she orders something like red meat on burnt toast, and I opt for an eggplant roll concoction. We dip unwisely into the heavy territory of careers and relationships (the cocaine of conversations) and chew the chew of the morbidly content. Denial, quite often, is the only option, and love, well, it's hard. Sixty dollars later, we're so ready for the Mann.

"I'm totally excited," I burp buttery cheese.

"Me, too!" Jessica pushes the cheese back in and snaps me out of it.

At the Hard Rock Live, following the humiliating blistered-heel trek from King Kong 311, we've actually got a bounce in our gait, a self-satisfied, almost intellectual "event" feeling about us. Unfortunately, few others do. Sure, it's fair attendance for a concert by somebody whom a small number care about that's been rescheduled from an October hurricane cancellation, but for the cavernous venue, it's almost as insulting to us as it must be to Mann herself. Well, not insulting so much as darkly funny.

"Where have you been? Did you really get fired?" quizzes the will call attendant as I claim my tickets.

"Everywhere and no," I squirm in my own refuse.

"You've been hanging out with Savannah too much."

Whatever (oooh, that's an Aimee Mann album title, too!). And speaking of Aimee Mann, her show goes off perfectly: difficult word choices rhyming out of severe bone structure to the droop of a low-hanging minor key. The small crowd is nothing if not appreciative, bobbing their heads and mouthing along to the soundtracks of their own personal tragedies, their own face wounds. Onstage, there are 30 instruments and three people, lending the sense of communal resignation in a vacuous space. And everything is sparse, moving and brilliant.

Except for one heckler, one lone soul raging against the dying of the light or something. His outbursts become notorious, and are just charmless enough to make Aimee cruelly play along. When she explains that her latest album is a concept album, he barks "True!" It all makes for an awkward uneasiness, which, I suppose, is fitting.

But when somebody else yells "Freebird" and another yells "What About Love?" Aimee just gives up.

"How about I just play ‘Hungry Like the Wolf,'" she spits dismissively.

And at this point, I turn around to face the (small) crowd, spinning around in my own glory, like I'm fucking Duran Duran or something. Alas, I've had my moment.

It is going to stop. And I'm not going to need an ambulance.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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