It’s as if the sky just cracked open, unleashing torrents of soul-cleansing, liver-licking top-shelf liquor; a figurative gullywasher of new beginnings, twinkling hopes and tiny cross-eyed birds chirping platitudinous affirmations of beauty into my nose! I smell a glorious Saturday, and I’m thirsty.

“Hey Lurlene, it’s me Lurlene!” I Lur telephonically. “I don’t know if you can hear me over all of the cross-eyed bird-chirps, but would you care to join me in a fantastical celebration of the Downtown Pour?”

“What, Lurlene?” Roy Lurs back. “Did you say poor? I don’t like poor people.”

One hiccupped correction later Roy and I are flitting about in the Thornton glory of a downtown Saturday, swirling around in tide pools of upward mobility while gasping at hair products. If I were a sundress, I’d be absolutely flowing right now.

“Omigod!” Roy flips his fop. “This is totally a flat-iron party!”

Long before flat irons were the vibrators of today, Roy used to be that girl at that party holding court in the corner, face akimbo, goading all the pretty girls into letting him brush their long, luxurious hair. It was a sort of gay amphetamine affectation and it always seemed to soothe him so. Today, amphetamine-free, the brush is unnecessary. Sort of like the Downtown Pour.

For a mere $35 a person, society aspirants are invited to queue repeatedly in front of folding tables to await splashes of wine in borrowed glasses. To me, it’s a ritualistic nightmare combed from the pages of pink-spined, trade-paperback mommy-lit – “Buck glanced over his pinot and through the back of my stroller, straight at a peek-a-boo of my landing strip. I giggled, wondering how long the strap on my slingbacks could possibly endure!” – but to Roy, it’s a class-hopping endeavor rife with strategy.

“We’ll stick to the pinot grigios and pinot gris,” his nose touches a cloud. “They’re really the same thing.”

“There are spots on my glass,” I spit Cascade.

Roy’s oenophile tendencies dilute into backwash soon enough, and within moments we’re traipsing around trying to figure out exactly who we are. A slug of a suspect margarita proffered back-table from the Wall Street Cantina booth only makes things less clear. The tidepool is pulling me under.

“You’re Billy Manes, right?” a bald daddy of punitive demeanor stops me. “You sometimes write half-decent things.”

“Where’s your crappy booth?” the ever-present apparition of Jim Faherty buzz-kills. “Have you seen the little geckos? The little geckos are chasing me!”

“We’re so going to be her next summer!” Roy clips a flat-ironed cooter cutter.

“I see through your persona. You’re actually very smart,” a nice woman dares to be sincere.

I need everybody to shut the fuck up right now. There are exactly four hot horse(hung)men with matching messy hair right in front of me, and I’m pretty certain they’ve eaten my cross-eyed birds and come to see me off to the other side. Omigod. I’m so ugly. This is not a new beginning, it’s an old end.

“Let’s go,” I grab Roy’s arm. “I’m downtown bored.”

Over on the other side, I’m feeling decidedly green. We’ve picked up my better Alan-half along the way in order to re-establish some kind of equilibrium, but I take just one step inside the crazy-head midway of Central Florida Earth Day over at Dandelion Communitea Café and the wafting patchouli totally trips me up. There is a man sitting inside a pyramid of twigs with his eyes closed, and he’s selling chi. That is all.

“Omigod!” Roy comes to my Zen rescue. “There’s a beer tent.”

And, it should be said, there are no flat irons. In fact, just about everybody’s scalp is coated in bed-matted pubicity, and all of the cautious crowd smiles of the previous scene have been replaced with cannabis guffaws that, if physically allowed, would probably wrap back around their hosting heads.

Don’t come near me. I’m wearing leather shoes.

Actually, it’s a pleasant surprise. Even though everybody looks like they’re sewn from hemp, even though there is an imminent drum circle coalescing in the corner, even though I’m drinking beer, I’d have to rate this level of pretense a mile higher than that of a few minutes ago. It’s all so … genuine.

Well, not all. Alan gets the idea that he needs to talk to the bald solar-panel guy about the solar business, an act that sends said bald solar-panel guy into a fit of bomb-shelter paranoia. But paranoia is probably to be expected at an event that caters to scented crystals. At least the kiosks here mean something, right?

“Hey,” a hot pair of blue eyes shakes me from my weed haze and hands me a postcard. “Have you ever heard of fair trade?”

“Yes,” I compost a little in a recyclable manner. “As a matter of fact I am.

What’s that? Are those cross-eyed birds I hear? Glorious.

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