;"I guess this is the part where I ask you," I tilt my head shyly towards my bent knees. "Will you marry me?"


;;"I guess this is the part where you bring out the tinfoil ring," Jessica plays freezer-friendly.

;;It's a gorgeous Thursday night and we are just initiating the melodrama that is set to roll out before us at the Fringe Festival kick-off gala. Like most of the Fringe shows themselves, we're making do with a reasonable facsimile of something sincere — we're in a parking-lot pedicab, not a horse-drawn carriage — and we're feeding our relative insignificance with pretentious conversation and a pretend proposal. The fact that it's warm outside could at any moment send us into soaked-brow professions that we're totally on death's bed, and that we don't want to go on. Drama, my dearest friends, is in the air.

;;So is androgyny. At the check-in line, something resembling a woman in a leopard-print fuzzy situation is stammering and stalling right in front of us while a drum corps pounds out a deafening rhythm to match this apparent drag queen dénouement. When asked for her guest-list name, she offers a deep, clipped "Julianna." Any attempts at retrieving a last name by the clipboarded attendant are met with dewy consternation. Jessica suggests a Victor/Victoria joke, and decides to refer to it as Julian. I just bite my lip and wait for it to realize that it's a performer and not meant to be "here" but "over there." Whatever the case, it's a bitch.

;;I'm so lost in Julianna's personal meltdown that I don't even realize that I've entered the party and that, yes, commissioner Patty Sheehan is darting across the room to greet me. Nothing snaps you out of yourself like a little slap of Patty.


;"I'm down on one knee for you," she indeed is, instantly. "I know you prefer two, but one will have to do."


;"I can work with one," is all I can muster, now in the middle of my own meltdown at the collision of oral sex and marriage metaphors … with a lesbian. I swear to God I'm dying.


;Or already dead. Last year, when I attended this very same party in this very same domed room, I was in the middle of my post-partum, post-political sinus infection, ruing my very existence beneath the vertigo-inspiring roundness of this forever-descending ceiling.


;This year, nose clear, I'm still just as mortified.


;"I feel like I'm in a mausoleum," I sniff formaldehyde, or whatever sort of decaying lettuce is emanating through the room. "With bad art."


;"What time's the viewing?" Jessica slits my jugular, 6 feet under.


;I wish it was now, then maybe I could just get out of here and back underground. A keyboardist sits in the middle of the mess, dumbing down several tracks from Prince's "Purple Rain" to a sexless '80s prom.

;;And then something terrible happens. No sooner am I talking to former Weekly editor Jeff Truesdell ("I knew you when you were nothing!") about, well, nothing, when a vaguely familiar matron enters the fray sporting a prom dress and two arms held directly perpendicular to her slight frame.

;;"Oh my God! Last time I talked to you, it must have been three years ago," she tries to jog my memory, but fails. "We were comparing wrist scars!"

;;WHAT! There are several rules of polite conversation, most of which I don't even know or utilize, but to approach a near-stranger in the already-awkward mingle position with a morbid factoid probably produced in a narcotic stupor just isn't cool. Frankly, I'm repulsed, like Emily Post at plastic silverware.

;;So we compare scars, she talks about her medication and everybody in the periphery pretends that discussion of wrist scars with suicide smiles is commonplace, de rigueur. Jessica and I acquire collective social hives and quickly exit the room.

;;Outside, a parade is forming and I'm trying to recover. Or die. Michael Wanzie breezes by, mouthing something about recording me for a "podcast," but all I hear is the blood in my wrists. I run into my old lesbo-a-go-go twin (with a more salacious wardrobe), Blue, and we take a quick meeting to decide on our professional futures.


;"We should throw parties and pass out!" we wheeze in unison.


;We already do. Jessica and I decide to leave the party and get out, but not before somebody named Wilson with gauze wrapped around his face approaches with a Fringe sales pitch. "You should come to my show. It's mime and dancing, and I talk a little about what's going on in the world today." Mimes, clearly, should not talk.

;;And we, clearly, need to get out of here. Patty's set up a birthday party for my friend Jason over at Lava, and it loosely involves the depressing finale of Will & Grace being projected on a cement wall (cue "You're My Best Friend" by Queen), which doesn't sound like any fun at all. At some point, Jason tells Jessica that she looks like a cuter Sandra Bullock and she tells him that he looks like a cuter Carson Daly, and they decide they need to make a movie called Drag Bus 3.

;;"You mean Speed?" I Keanu.


;Shortly thereafter, Jessica and I go back to her place to watch ABBA divorce on an Ovation documentary. How dramatic. We'll never marry.

; [email protected]
Scroll to read more Arts Stories + Interviews articles
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.