Perhaps because it's Thursday, or more likely because I always am, tonight I'm swimming around in a cauldron of narcotic metaphor that if properly stewed could result in a celebrity-style relapse. Yay! Even the sizzle-clank-scream of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana," as interpreted by my front right car speaker, has me digging for a deeper meaning (or a baggie in my pocket): one that frazzles beyond something involving the deceased Princess of Wales snorting lines off the back of a toilet drizzled with piss and into the territory of the colloquial drug-naming games of Cindy (coke!) and Tina (meth!). Is (s)he singing about diazepam? Mmmm, sleepy.

Unfortunately, tonight is not going to be that kind of party.

"Don't have any fun!" snarks Jessica's cleaner half as she rabbits out the door.

"How can I?" she snarks back in obvious hearing distance. "I'm going out with Billy."

Such implications of repute would mean so much more if this were another decade in another city housing both of our 20-something delusions of invincibility in a Valley of the Dolls pill-heavy beach crawl, but instead it's just irony twice over. There will be no fun tonight.

But — again with the irony — there will be mushrooms. Bearing in mind that both the Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake used to live in mushrooms, each subsequently going on to be reinvented as the "brands" on certain tablets of ecstasy responsible for my skin's greening in the mid-to-late '90s, and that I once imbibed something reputedly comprised of mushrooms from a stewing cauldron to little or no effect, this could be a good thing. But given its current context — crazyhead Doug Rhodehamel's latest Spore Project stunt of fund-raising philanthropy for "art" in "schools" by means of wrinkling brown paper lunch bags over sticks — it isn't likely.

"I'm so tripping," I fade in Jessica's direction while miraculously managing to parallel park.

"Erm," she is either uncomfortable or uninterested (she does both well).

Inside Taste Restaurant (the scene of the infestation), everybody is tripping, only literally, over the raised-step entrance into the restaurant, which might be funny if it weren't.

Doug's "Fungus of the Stars" benefit is in full bloom, with mingle-ites circumnavigating a central table installation lined with 40 or so embellished bags-on-sticks. My own fungal contribution — a Bedazzled 'shroom with blood spattered on it that I've not very cleverly named "beautypain" — sits among those of other bits of notable Orlando fungus who have consistently eschewed the anti-bacterials and never gone away. There's Patty Sheehan (a potential third-term fungus who's raised the stakes by covering hers in similarly fungal paisley), the Sexy Savannah (a radio-wave fungus who seems be making a statement about butterflies in her stomach by incorporating both butterflies and stomachs into the shaft and head respectively), Liz Langley (a two-paper traitor fungus … kidding!) and Jeff Truesdell (similar, but paper-to-magazine, as represented by his People magazine decoupage mushroom of tragi-famous faces that aren't my own). Both Katie Ball (NPR-hoping fungus) and Katie Reynolds (Etoile Boutique, very special French fungus) sport 3-D birds on their 'shroom heads, drawing concerns about a Katie conspiracy. This town, apparently, is in desperate need of an ointment. Or perhaps some culture.

"Hello," my best fungus Taylor shows up virtually unannounced, like most itching ailments. "I've come to bring a little culture to the affair."

Which is only funny because he's literally bringing a little petri dish—type culture to the affair, as he's just arrived from the apothecary, having suffered a bout with an eye infection all his own; I can't make this pus up.

Jessica and I finally sit down to shove a few delectable morsel-sized tapas into our collective catheter of alcohol and bile, and she gets down to the business of turning an unpleasant itch into an impressive burn. I love her.

"You know the ohhhs?" she phoneticizes out of nowhere.

"The oughts?" I millennially interject.

"Right! The '00s. No one wants to choose a name. I was the first to use ‘the ohs' at the Weekly," she clarifies while watching my pen doodle. "Everybody's waiting for the teens. Everybody else is scared!"


Spotting another very Orlando fungus in the milieu, one with Asian-culture derivations maligning her accessories, Jess casts another poison net of pop-cultural sensibility, this time with a directive.

"I really think there's a time to let Hello Kitty go," she paws. "Goodbye kitty."

"I'm gonna go smoke," I meow.

"Oh, sure. Go ahead."

Outside, the conversation is only about four deadly spores less exciting. I get in a ribbing with my favorite tattooed, queefing scenester about climbing up inside her to tap her organs or something, and then fall into another tête with the ever-disappearing Aaron Dexter about fellatio ("It's good for your dicktion," etc.) mostly because he always turns gay when he's around me, or it's Thursday. You can get the fungus that way, you know.

Back inside, a few people have actually bid on my festering "beautypain," raising its value up to a tremendous $30 (half of what it cost to make), which is good because Jessica and I are just about spored out from all the portobello excitement. The pain has overtaken the beauty, and it is time to go.

"We need somebody good to challenge Buddy," a young Democrat blocks the doorway with the sandbags of politics' age-old drag.

"Well …" I demur, suitably provoked by this scratching of my itch.

"And not you," he laughs.

I'll take those diazepam now. I'm feeling dirty.

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