RETURN TO PARIS 


"My va-jay-jay itches," yeasts my friend Anna scratchily into her cell phone.

And after a few screams at the coining of a perfect euphemism, I'm convinced: She's coming with me. "Mine too!" I ingrow a hair. "Let's take our loose lips to Clu-jay-jay Pa-jay-jay!"

In addition to the fact that, thanks to Anna, I'm throwing a "jay-jay" on the end of everything dirty and considering it endlessly funny, there still exists the equal-and-opposite effect brought on by the task at hand: I have to return to Club Paris. Having already survived the pre-New Year's opening, and having thereafter run my giant pink pen over the brain-burnt images in the form of a subsequent column, the prospect of falling back into that bottomless nightlife vagina hurts like an unexpected electrical shock from a faulty vibrator. My va-jay-jay is getting sore just thinking about it.

Two months on and the double-processed, overextended hair that is Club Paris has gone limp, frizzing and matting down into the standard Orlando wash-and-go, and scrunchie-knotting far beneath the expectations of both its slut icon and her partner, owner Fred Khalilian. Nobody saw this coming.

"I don't see any scrunchies," squinches Anna, weathering her wobbly heels on the approach.

"Well, maybe that's a good thing," I reach for anything good. "No scru-jay-jays."

Despite Khalilian's reproaches otherwise – he insists that they have a "long-term plan" for at least "five years" to local newscasters, who are as suspicious as lobotomized cheerleaders – all signs point to imminent failure for the giant Church Street gash. They're banking on Paris' appearance (and that of her own gash) at her own super-fabulous birthday party to reignite the interest she peed upon by not showing up on time for the club's opening. Phew.

"Paris will be in town six hours early this time, rather than six hours late," Khalilian nervously effused in the "Paris' Ultimate Birthday Bash" press release, before snorting a line of humility.

But when I show up around midnight on Feb. 18, early by my own standards, the brush-off response from the door guy is a more expected, "No, Paris is not here. Heh, she's always late."

Nobody saw that coming either.

In fact, nobody sees much of anything, or anybody, on this particular Friday night. Early reports of a bloated cover charge (something like $25) have scared the local princesses away, for the most part, and Anna and I cruise through the small scattering of motionless people like ADD tweens at a wax museum.

"What is everybody waiting for?" Anna twitches.

"Everybody's waiting for Pa-jay-jay's va-jay-jay," I slurp at my liquid resolve.

And they are. So much so that everything prior to the actual entrance doesn't even seem to exist; horribly tracked rehashes of "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas and the obligatory Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson squirts are merely repeated when she walks in, as if nothing before mattered.

"Paris has entered the building!" booms the DJ overhead. "Let's get it started." And so he does, literally, as if this whole thing were a DJ-by-numbers re-enactment of a dress rehearsal of nothing in particular. I start thinking that a dog can only chase its own tail so closely before its back breaks, and for some reason the imaginary snap of a spine soothes my ache.

Now, to say I'm not moderately excited by the possibility of a personal Paris encounter would be to lie. There's always that odd plebeian/celebrity complex fighting the good fight in my head, juggling irony with idolatry and hiccupping with childish charmlessness. The problem here is that I don't know why. On the one hand, everybody else wants to see her or be her, and why shouldn't I? On the other, I'm pulling at a cigarette in skulking disenchantment, leering around for a train wreck or just another reason to roll my eyes. This, I surmise, is why US Weekly is killing me. And I'm not alone.

In a tragic display of low-res allegiance, the bulk of the crowd is turned toward Paris' every move, many holding up camera phones. Some are even placing themselves in the foreground, as if to imply a friendly party situation with Paris to everybody on their e-mail list. It couldn't really be more impotent or detached. And neither could I. Although I do eventually come within five feet of the handbag that is Paris Hilton, even pushing over a number of pitiful people, I feel nothing and immediately recoil.

"I'm having, like, the best time," I lie to Anna.

"Me too!" she lies back. "I'm ready to go when you are."

And ready to go back, too. On Saturday night, officially to be the BIG celebration basically because there's a cake promised, we decide to retrace our steps downtown and relive the little death that was the night before just in case a celebrity who actually does or has done something – anything – happens to show up. To our surprise, the line almost approaches the "around the block" status required for even moderate success, although the line is populated by the worst people you can imagine: drunk girls who trip over their own lower lips, tumbling into a giant somersault slur befitting their idol, and their boyfriends, who strut around like they might own automatic assault weapons. Nobody is gay. Sad, really.

But we squeeze our way through, if only to get another glimpse of the same thing: the camera phones, the blinding insignificance, Paris twirling like a broken toy on top of an expensive cake. The only difference tonight, besides the inexplicable crowd (the cover was dropped to $10, tellingly) is the presence of dark-haired sister Nicky, whose sullen stares seem to suck more life out of the proceedings, yet somehow make them more interesting.

And while Sunday will bring yet another ridiculous Hilton media circus – this time involving a hacked cell phone, some photos of Pa-jay-jay kissing a girl, Ashlee Simpson's phone number and Usher's too, depressingly enough – tonight is just another ingrown hair, another brush with existential doubt.

"Eh," nonplusses Anna, bumped up into my armpit by the rush of adoring cultural lemmings. "I'm ready to go when you are."

"Yeah," I scratch myself. "My va-jay-jay itches."

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