;Oh, so this is how it feels. Having spent the better part of my liquored life coercing fidgety straights into obnoxious gay bars, buttering them up with assurances that "Nobody will even notice you" and "You won't have to worry about drunk guys/girls sticking their hands in places they shouldn't" (a lie), tonight somebody's holding a spoon with a taste of my own filthy medicine up against my tongue. That somebody is, predictably, Savannah.;
;"We goin' to da cluuuuub!" she chastises from my passenger seat.;
;And, literally, we are going to the Club, or Firestone for short, and under most circumstances that would be just fine; I've been pulled out from under ketamine clouds and crack rocks there with the best of them, thrown to curbs, rhinestones askew, one eye almost open. This shouldn't be a problem. Tonight, however, it is.
;;"You ever hear of Apple Bottoms?" Savannah schools me in the lingo, pointing at a rather large ass in jeans.;
;"No," I fidget.;
;"Dey s'posed to make your ass look like a apple.";
;OK, Savannah isn't even black, but sometimes, given the right soundtrack and surrounding props, the graffiti comes out and she is a ghettoized subdivision wall. Savannah is a bad neighborhood waiting to happen; she requires a larger police presence. Earlier today she pulled a radio spot with Jeezy, just one of the unfortunately named hip-hop grills here in town for a car show at the convention center, and two hours later she's halfway to Blige. Or would that be Compton?;
;"He kept looking me up and down like he didn't get it," she details as I don't wonder why. "Oh, and he told me to bring a friend.";
;Oooooh, OK. And I'm almost certain I'm exactly the friend he meant. Anyway, this is the "official" after-party for said car show, and the only thing I've actually done to prepare for it is to watch Pimp My Ride twice this morning and tear through my closet for the most invisibly neutral items of clothing I might have, the ones that don't actually say "gay" on them … or "pimp."
;;"Whatcha know about that?" is blaring repeatedly after we hassle our way through guest-list eye-rolls and gratuitous security frisking.;
;Nothing. Precisely nothing.;
;My fish is so out of water here that I'm instantly assuming the role of cultural anthropologist and pretending there's some kind of scientific window separating my observational eye from the shenanigans at hand. Not in a racist way (er, some of my best friends are black?) but in one that speaks mostly to my own inadequacies as a social being. I plead insecurity.
;;Booty girls in white hot pants and heels, heads topped with hibiscus flowers in their wet-and-woven updos, are in abundance, as are baseball-capped thugs in baggy jeans and oversized polo shirts. They don't even notice me. And I'm very much not worried about their hands going places they shouldn't. I scribble down outfit descriptions onto scraps of paper as a means of making myself look less conspicuous.;
;"Oh my god, what are you doing here?" a bartender recognizes me. "I saw your blond hair and I knew it was you!";
;Savannah's less inhibited and takes to creating a photo essay of herself and her presumed ghetto brothers and sisters, which I'm sure isn't offensive to them at all. She walks over to one tall girl on the dance floor in a white hot-pant bodysuit, gold grill swaying in the darkness to the beat, and snaps a self-shot.
;;"Her name was Rhonda," she tells me. "She wasn't nice, but she wasn't mean, either.";
;Ouch. Unmoved, she decides to school me some more on what I need not know.;
;"Do you know what a whip is?";
;"It's a car. I just thought you'd like to know.";
;Upstairs, Firestoner Mike Feinberg catches me pretending to almost dance (or possibly fall down) with a "We'll have none of that here." I don't know what he means. But at about the same time, Savannah introduces me as "media" to a curly weave, and I don't know what she means either.;
;"I've got 21 hair salons in one building, if you want to do a story," she matter-of-facts.;
;"I've got 21 hair salons in my bedroom," I grimace.;
;"Ooooooh, I want to pop my pussy right now!" Savannah pops in from out of nowhere to the tune of "My Neck, My Back.";
;I want to go home. Instead, we head to the outside patio area just in time to catch some ghetto-fabulous females demean themselves in front of airbrushed photo backdrops, one with the downtown Orlando skyline, the other with the old adage "Pimpin' ain't easy.";
;"It ain't," Savannah assures me.;
;Neither is leaving. It's almost 1:30 on Sunday night and Jeezy hasn't even shown up yet to fall in love with me and then beat me up. Savannah insists that we should linger, which only makes me feel more detached. The longer I'm here, the less likely I am to have a reason to be, says my returning scientist head.;
;"Do you know what ‘time to go' is?" I (old) school.;
;This is how it feels.; [email protected]