Not to be overly dramatic because that would be inappropriate in this piece of real estate betwixt the theater listings and phone-sex lube but I have the feeling that the end is nigh. I say this because I'm starting to notice something extremely dire in my day-to-day swish through life, equal parts fabulous and scary, and therefore necessarily apocalyptic: I'm turning into Liz Taylor.
Roll stirring violins here. Oh, and fix your mama a drink.
It all started when I was a little girl, suckling at the teat of modest existence. Well, no, that's not exactly true. It actually started when I decided to go on vacation last week to the Big Sleazy, aka New Orleans. Seeing as I don't really get a vacation, I decided to pack my peculiar literary decadence in my carry-on for a self-mandated column assignment. New Orleans is a real city, after all, as evidenced by the sulfur and urinescents rising from the pavement (mmmm, the sweet smell of sewer failure). I supposed, perhaps wrongly, that the nightlife beat would make for a nice verbal stink. I might even get drunk and do something funny.
But a quiet pall fell over the whole thing when I began to put the imaginary pieces of my brain together. At just about that moment, I realized that no matter what I decide to do with my partner, I'm always Liz, and he's always, well, the other half: your Paul Newman, your Montgomery Clift, your Richard Burton. Suffice it to say there is always drama, and, more importantly, there is always liquor.
So, yeah, we cruised up Bourbon Street to its gayer heights, landing in a place obviously called Oz, because Dorothy wouldn't have it any other way, but mostly that just involved that standard resigned feeling of going through the motions, sweating, grinning and blaring it.
"I'll have a double," I shook like a leaf.
"Well, I'd be more than happy to oblige," a shirtless bartender swiftly bent over.
It was like canned meat, really, and not all that much to write home about. So we walked around Canal Street, Alan bought an LBJ cowboy hat, and we quickly fell into our roles of opposing passive aggression.
Alan: "I made out with a girl to get back at you," (for last week's column), etc.
The next morning, while waiting for a streetcar that I certainly did not desire, we were approached by two little brothers seeking 20 cents each. Me, I only had 2 cents, so Alan ran inside to get them each a fiver. Which was all nice, until my Liz Taylor violet eyes started to roll back into my feverish head, rescripting the frightening masterpiece that was Suddenly Last Summer. It was based in New Orleans, even. And gay-pal Sebastian got eaten at the end by little children begging for fineries.
"So is that your brother?" one kid quizzed.
"No, that's my boyfriend," I pulled out my Oscar best. I was not going to go down the Taylor path to Katharine Hepburn's penis fly trap, screaming my way to a lobotomy in a loony bin. Oh, no. Not me.
"What?" the other opened his eyes wider than my head. "You mean you're gay? Momma says that's nasty."
"It's not nasty," I sat up straight, but not that straight. "It's just life. You know life, don't you?" I sneered at the begging brats.
And then I knew the transformation had indeed taken place. I was reborn as Liz.
Confident of my newly minted role as the original melodramatic waist-free beauty, I began drinking like a very pretty fish and making eyes at everybody.
That evening, at a charming cabaret version of the white-trash Olivia Newton-John vehicle Sordid Lives, we met up with my former editor from a former life, one where I actually used to be edited. One drink led to another, and my eyes met up with a stage manager's.
"You made your goo-goo eyes at him," Alan slurred.
"I don't have goo-goo eyes." I have very pretty violet eyes.
Anyway, the Cat met the Hot Tin Roof in a series of barbs throughout the show which was quite fantastic, actually, in that gay redneck kind of way and Liz came back out stumbling. This time, Alan was Paul Newman (right down to getting a call about his father's health), and we crumbled cleanly into our Tennessee Williams best. There was St. Charles Street, there were two angry people walking a mile home on either side of it, and they were screaming at each other. Priceless, really, if you're into that sort of thing. Annoying, probably, if you're anyone else anywhere near St. Charles. I'm not certain, but I think Alan was waiting to hear that click. You know, that click that goes off in your head that makes everything all right. Me, I was waiting for the click of a trigger. But I'm a little over the top like that.
By Sunday morning, having spent the entire weekend aging into our roles and watching every episode of I Love the '90s while not talking to each other, we had reached the barren Edward Albee territory of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: drunken resignation to a marriage that involves a "little bugger" all its own (that would be our dog).
At brunch that morning with said previous editor and his gaggle of 30-something friends, we started acting out again.
"Let's play 'get the guest!'" I blurred.
"OK!" He ended up paying everybody's check. And on an assistant professor's salary!
By Sunday evening I was about to fracture a hip and fall into complacent charity/perfume mode. I needed a change.
We opted to stay an extra day mostly because we had lost our minds to our black-and-white film roles and switch hotels. The Columns was the obvious choice, because that's where they filmed Pretty Baby. And by that point, I was ready to turn into a child-prostitutin' Brooke Shields. What comes between me and my Old Navys? Nothing.
So now I'm Brooke. And, if I'm not mistaken, I think I just heard the click.
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