ONE FAKE QUEEN 


If there's anything I adore, it's artifice: artificial insemination, prosthetic limbs, bridgework, preservatives in fruity-pink lip-gloss. They all give my plastic heart pause. Hell, if I could I would lip-synch this freakin' column, opting instead to dance an impromptu typing jig of nothing but asterisks and ampersands. I suspect you know that I would. And I would blame my editors, because that's what you do when you're the queen of fake. Cue Altered Images: I could be happy.

And for the moment I am. It's a perfectly placid Saturday, the proposed day of celebration for my best friend Taylor's birthday, and I couldn't even begin to scrape a juicy morsel of sleep from the corners of my eyes. That is if I had eyes, and not the crystalline fixtures of optimism currently holding court in the cavities of my head. I buzz up Taylor from the not-so-distant ether, and at the snap of a cell phone we're both painfully excited about the Faint show later on tonight. Collectively, our "Retro Career Has Melted" about 10 times over, so we're sure to be perfectly in tune with the proceedings. But what to wear? And while "falsies" comes too quickly to mind, I decide to make my first extremely stupid comment of the day instead.

"I have, like, five outfits," I genius. "And, um, I wanna look cute! Let's go shopping."

Five minutes of dead air follows, and I decide to footnote my over-the-top monologue with a bit of reality. "Wow … that's the dumbest thing I've ever said!"

So, we're off to go shopping following a quick meet-up-at-my-house cocktail, and the world couldn't seem any sweeter. Several stops of varying hipness and shopping success ratios – an Army-Navy store, Orlando Vintage and Static – and I've dropped a couple hundred dollars on everything but pants, meaning I only have shirts. "I will not be pantsed tonight," I mouth my mantra into the echoing emptiness of my wallet. And, as usual, funny changes everything.

On the way to our early birthday engagement at the Cactus Club, I squeeze into the nonironic iron-on irony of my new Culture Club "Kissing To Be Clever" T-shirt and make believe, like I always do, that it's 1984.

"Does this look cute?" I twist my hair.

"Totally."

Awesome. Seems that local gadabout Jeff Carver has crafted a dual birthday celebration for both Taylor and Ian, somebody I don't really know. The latter greets us at the door, at first looking right through my translucent plasticity, until something gets caught in the light.

"You're Billy Manes," he deflates without a hint of either pleasure or pain.

"Um, yeah."

OK. Jeff's assembled gift bags from the dollar store with your typical array of blowy things, plus confetti, plus plastic soldiers, plus rub-on nail décor.

"One of them has a severed tongue in it!" Jeff pretends to be joking.

Soon the severed tongue is discovered and thrown onto the mirrored walls for a downward slime-climb, and a pile of fake poo is tossed onto the floor beneath it.

"You can put that in your column!" he glees.

Ever get the feeling that everything everyone is doing around you is for some published effect? No? I do.

Jeff has wrapped Ian's present – a mud-covered dildo – in my column, with my own precious mug wrapping around the tip … with a cigarette. A laugh track goes off inside of me, but, little by way of breath exists to support it.

By the time we're heading downtown for the Faint – shortly after a wardrobe malfunction reveals the security tag to be still protruding from one of my collars, and we have to drive back to Static to remedy it – we're plenty pissed and, quite possibly, sorted. Because we're falsely British like that. Taylor's sporting a Skinny Puppy shirt, and I'm about as easy as a nuclear war in my Duran-tard best, a navy jacket and a faux-tuxedo shirt. Did I mention that I'm wearing mascara? No, because I shouldn't.

Fortunately, the blurring of eyelashes being glued together for the sake of fashion past gives way to a thoroughfare – a midway, even – of outdoor high-school delight: Wallflowers and a wall, that's all you need. A girl walks by in a pink tutu with a pink stuffed animal. Really.

The Social Pavilion, as it's called, is a fairly good idea, but only on nights as almost-temperate as this. "Wachovia" beams overhead. "Watch-ova-ya," we giggle ever so wrongly. Missing every possible step, we immediately engage in some odd conversation about Adam Ant's sanity with old acquaintances and anybody else who will listen, until duty calls, and we make way to the porta-potties like hookers at a truck stop.

In order to make the proceedings more interesting than a pasty pale appendage in a plastic poop-chute, Taylor and I devise a game of false identity that might help lubricate the passing of indie-rock time.

"OK, so every 15 minutes we'll have to each find a new indie-rock boyfriend," Taylor roleplays. "Whoever finds the cuter one …"

We spend about an hour standing next to hot boys in ironic T-shirts, pretending to be ignored girlfriends, when not waiting in the adjoining lines for cocktails and bathroomy cock-releases. It's fun, but not that fun. Because, um, the yellow-shirted one is totally pretending he doesn't even know me. And I've already had his baby, need a drink and totally have to go.

The Faint, it turns out, are faking their performance at just about the same time Ashlee Simpson is discovering line dancing on SNL, and everything feels botched. At first, it's a Malcolm McLaren laugh: Hey, the joke is on you, trucker hats and goth-fucks. Then, it all goes EMF: overwrought dancing and occasional brushes against instruments pressing up to an apocalyptic projection-screen situation.

So, we'll go somewhere else (Independent Bar) and fake-dance to adjoining Morrissey tracks. I'll possibly grope my future ex-wife (a petite tattoo of a girl named Anna) and nothing will add up correctly.

A smile, a flip, a broken heel – all eclipsed by the fact that it never does add up correctly. Not when you're the queen of fake.

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