Life is so strange 


Here I am, going about my standard Thursday business of making sure that my boyfriend breaks up with me by Saturday for being a fabulous drunk, when a raging banshee of squeak-pop perfection stumbles out of the Hard Rock Hotel green room and into my steady decline.

Who says there's no such thing as fate? Well, me, unless of course fate can hurt.

For now, though, everything is perfect when Dale Bozzio, she of Missing Persons '80s fame, pours onto my lap.

"Oh ... my ... gawd!" she totally flips out. "I can't believe it!"

You see, Dale and I have history. Not the kind of history she has with sundry other pop stars now on Geritol ("I'm a whoooore," she'll later reveal, only increasing my love for her), but history nonetheless.

Over 10 years, I've met her exactly four times, which makes her totally my best friend. From that distance, I figure she can't see the spots. So seeing her temporarily makes me feel like there is absolutely nothing wrong with my life.

"You're the journalist?"

Well, that's a strong word. Have another drink, Dale, and let's pretend we're married.

"Listen, you know what?" she gets all serious. "Only for you today would God send me here. Because, I guarantee you, about two or three months ago, I told the band that we're going nowhere."

Understandable when Dale starts to unravel her fairly intense recent history, the most painful part being the giant shard of glass that wedged itself two inches into her arm. She shows me the scar, I take another sip, and begin to realize that my job isn't a job after all. What I really do for money is make friends with really dangerous, fucked-up people. People like me.

Not surprisingly, she's recently been dumped (as I will be in about five hours), and is as raw and beautiful as I could never be, all wigged-up and leopard-hatted, telling me that I should eat more. I wish Dale Bozzio was my mom. Hmmm, maybe she is.

"I let him go," she starts to lie. "OK, no, I never let anybody go. I was keeping him there with a noose around his neck, but he was leaving."

Parallels? Scary.

"You flatter yourself, that's what you do," she teaches me.

"Yeah, I'm independent!"

"Whatever. I still got a broken heart."

Thanks a lot. To what do we really owe this honor 20 years after either of us really mattered?

"I just found out that I was coming. 'Cuz I'm tellin' you, my cat, Mrs. Hoochie, was keeled over and was dying."

She loves cats, apparently. Names them "Hoochie" even. Go figure.

"So I rushed her to the hospital. I was supposed to leave on the tour, but I canceled the tour, she got better. A window fell on my arm, almost cut my arm off. Cut the artery in my arm, and I had to get the whole thing back."

Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Dale's playing the single-mom role to her two tweens, who are currently cracking each other's teeth upstairs. And she still has to put on a greatest hits show for the bourgeois dimwits mingling at the Velvet Sessions.

How does she do it?

In sympathy, I find myself carrying her makeup bag, slowly morphing into her personal assistant. What the hell, right? I won't have anybody in just four more hours. I could be Dale's husband. Yeah, that's a good idea.

For those who don't remember the miracle that was 1982, Missing Persons were the American answer to the British shiny-shiny. Born out of Frank Zappa's twisted mind, the band tempered serious musicianship with admittedly ridiculous posturing. Guitarist Warren Cuccarullo would go on to carry a flaccid Duran Duran through the '90s, turn all wacky L.A., and date a shemale. That's how good they were.

Dale, however, would go on to almost lose her life (the first time) when a rapist forced her out of Holiday Inn window; she fell 50 feet to the ground, bouncing off the lit sign for good measure.

God love rock & roll. God love Dale Bozzio.

Meanwhile, hits like "Destination Unknown," "Words" and "Walking in L.A." (um, nobody walks in L.A.) continue to litter the nostalgia soundscape, driving goth-like 30-somethings into fits of dancefloor ecstasy and soccer moms into some good-natured steering wheel-tapping.

Later, up in Dale's room, while recounting the hotel window story and sitting next to a hotel window (spooky!), a bottle of champagne is delivered unannounced to the door.

"They call these amenities," she reveals, checking the card for any origin beyond the "rock & roll" signature too often proffered in the metaphoric overstatement of the Hard Rock premise. "But I think it's just so I don't commit suicide. You see, rock stars always commit suicide in hotel rooms, so I get the feeling that it's just kind of a way of them coming up to check on you. Like, 'you're still alive, right?'"

All of this, while my roommate is gluing rainbow tresses of hair onto her head. ("Halloween," she winks, thinking I might understand.)

After a few champagnes, we're all contemplating suicide just to see if room service will hear our brainwaves, or maybe our screams.

The next day, I'll spend two hours crying on the phone to Dale about my romance gone sour, and she'll really understand me; she'll even tell me not to contemplate suicide, as my apartment has no room service.

In a hokey moment, I'll start to believe that maybe God did bring her here just to see me, even to save me. Such is the power of the '80s pop pantheon. You don't ever have to grow old, or even die when you fall out of a window at gunpoint. And you don't have to stay with someone who just doesn't get it.

Life is so strange.


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