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“Will you finger me for a dollar? I’ll let you finger me for a dollar.”

It’s been a week of adrenaline cocktails and self-righteous chest-pounding at the Weekly fallout shelter, with all sorts of pudgy men in uniform (or undercover NASCAR
T-shirts and jean shorts) using sex as a weapon in ridiculously unattractive, possibly unconstitutional ways. Floppy-haired newsmen on slow-news-day patrol have done their throwing of impolite invectives, obviously threatening ad sales folk have heard the clink of the slammer or the slamming of the clink, Sentinel grump Mike Thomas has called me “delightful,” and – you won’t believe this – the sun has risen, it’s set, and it’s risen again several times. Me, I just want to get fingered.

“So, I’m supposed to pay you a dollar to finger you?” super-hot activist Matt De Vlieger cracks his knuckles.

“You can do me for two!” chirps Tony from atop his SpongeBob shirt. “Two fingers, I mean.”

Ah, injustice. It brings out the best in all of us. And sometimes the best means lovable zombie George Crossley and “Orlando’s favorite anarchist” Ben Markeson. The two have arranged something of a protest in honor of the Weekly’s undue shame, hoping to rattle those who are rattled by First Amendment goings-on into a placard-waving frenzy right outside our newsy headquarters. So it’s kind of like a surprise party that you already knew about but you had nothing to do with so shut the fuck up, but without cake and with sweaty, impossibly unfuckable men who have polemical fish to fry. A finger is the best option.

By 5:30 on this glorious Tuesday afternoon, some 30 people have assembled into a ragtag protest formation, trying to muster some sort of public outcry from the rush hour I’m-tired-and-I want-to-go-home set, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. There are squints in the direction of the MBI acronym, which means very little to very many, and there are a few honks, but for the most part there’s just that standard distraction annoyance peculiar to words blotting peripheral views.

“I think it’s a little too cerebral,” I lobotomy from beneath my “FREE PRESS!” sign.

“Aren’t that guy’s shorts a little low?” Tony leers at the pubic mound popping up from one shaggy participant’s indie low-riders. Brainy!

As it stands, there are only about four fingers in attendance to which I would offer my sacred dirty space – which means only four dollars, MBI – but given that I’m not very large, four fingers will have to do. Unfortunately there are girls (ladyfingers?), too, and they don’t count.

“Have you heard the latest gay-rights news?” one panders.

“No,” I fidget.

Dumbledore is gay!”

Ugh. Anyway, after about 15 minutes of static rabble-rousing, Crossley gets it in his head and therefore his mouth that we should mobilize in some kind of marching formation down to the actual MBI headquarters at the Old Southern Bank on Orange Avenue. Dumble-girl remarks that he would make a “great first-grade teacher” out of nowhere, and the procession trickles its way in that direction not unlike a short-bus crowd of 7-year-olds on an off-hours museum field trip.

“We’re way too pretty for this,” I nudge my beautiful friend Karen.

“I know!

Something has to give.

“Will you finger me for a dollar?” I wince in Crossley’s ambling direction, humbly.

“Oh, Billy,” he first-grade First Amendments. “We love you and all, but uh ….”

Fine. Over at the bank building, Markeson exercises his own finger – or rather, hand – thrusting it and his arm up at a 45-degree angle toward the MBI’s fourth-floor offices. “Sieg Heil!” he screams while the world frowns.

“I don’t think it’s that kind of protest,” Karen’s eyes roll.

But given that there are some loud-voiced lawyers of the witty, chant-inducing variety present – one in particular – it is this kind: “All we are saying! Is give Swedish massage a chance!”

And I’m numb and not at all tingly. I need a drink.

Over at the Peacock Room, where giant zombies with giant fingers are the spooktacular norm this time of year, Tony, Karen and I do our civic duty of trying to drink away worldly concerns and filter ourselves into the din of other people’s casual conversations. Rather unpleasantly, one schlub beckons me over to complain on a professional level about the Weekly’s coverage of the homeless. Well, at least it’s a different story, but the fact that he’s drunkenly regaling me with details of his Cracker-dom, his family history, the fact that his name is on a water tower somewhere and his proud ownership of affordable apartments for single mothers, all while holding his finger-full hand on my shoulder, is a little disconcerting.

“I’ve actually had to scrape human feces off the side of my building,” he shits. Gross.

“Well, I’ll take that into consideration,” I pucker.

Thankfully, the prince of all princes, Scott Maxwell, is looming in the corner next to a giant zombie with giant fingers, and he is not covered in human feces … yet. Tonight could finally work out for me!

“Scott, will you finger me for a dollar?” I cat-butt.

“I think that’s a job best left to your buddy Mr. Thomas,” his fists clench.


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