Far be it from me to equate the regularly scheduled swirls of my own marinated mind with anything that actually kills people, but for some reason this week I'm churning up a storm surge of salty vodka that threatens to wipe me out entirely. Somewhere between the botched aftermath of New Orleans' devastation and the potential (at deadline time) destruction of the Texas coast, there exists a fey blonde twerp with melodramatic tendencies capable of manipulating his own descending misery checklist with extreme drops in barometric pressure.
And baby looks an awful lot like me.
In the interest of crying out loud, I've decided to attend a Hurricane Katrina benefit downtown at the Lodge, tears and shakes included and completely inappropriate comparisons intended. Somehow I'm going to link my white-trash, silently disturbing upbringing with a bar that irons on its irony and has more than a little appreciation for taxidermy and the turmoil of people who don't just get miserable when there's nothing to do. How grand of me. I'm an asshole.
In order to understand the depth of my thrice-dug ditch, you would probably have to know what I'm talking about, but since I'm a cavalier gadabout with little time for fact-checking or more family drama, we'll just call it that: family drama. The husband is out of town, yanking the rug out from under my not-matching drapes, and I'm in full Melody Beattie codependent-some-more mode. I'm making my own hurricane, and I know it. Personally, I blame Anderson Cooper's windblown hair, but then I always do.
I love Anderson Cooper.
So, traveling further into the affliction known as an addiction to televised hurricane porn, I'm here to help pick up the pieces, or, more likely, to ineffectively drink away the drama to benefit the American Red Cross. My worried friend Savannah is in tow, and I'm pretty sure the context of a natural disaster and a good friend should do something to shake me out of myself. Or at least the compounded depressants should, right? Well, wrong.
But maybe I could win something real nice.
Everything from hotel stays to teeth whitening to limo rides is up for raffle tonight, which all sounds oddly frivolous in tragedy juxtaposition, but I'm all for lemonade from my lemons. Actually, I prefer the harsh rind for myself, but for other people I suppose it's OK. Other people like the standard downtown wash of awkward hipsters with WPRK on perma-play.
"I feel like I'm on 'Laguna Beach,'" I have my breasts done while conjuring afternoon MTV.
"Yeah, like a broke-ass 'Laguna Beach,'" Savannah counts my pennies. "Like Destin. Like Satellite Beach."
Still, it's a good time, random indecipherable gibberish swirling over duct-taped booth seats. My friends John and Greg decide to come by and join us, and what seems like a potential intervention I mistake for general conviviality. Little bits of conversation occasionally hit my ears, revealing things about Jayne Mansfield's daughter, Anton LaVey and the televised misery of Special Victims Unit, but I pay little mind. I'm just happy to have my head temporarily out of my ass.
A bartender approaches the table to tell me that "Jason Lambert is on the way and he wanted me to tell you not to step on his toes."
Lambert and I briefly competed for the Woolf-ian title of "Orlando" some years back when he was at The Globe, but since he's now financially involved in this whole block of Orange Avenue, not to mention politically vital in several worthwhile movements, I'm pretty sure that I've lost. I barely have a business card.
"Tell him he can suck my ass," I reach into my bag of fag wit, clearly finding nothing.
Oddly, the bartender actually does make the call back to Jason with my lovely message, and then looks up at me, smiling, thumbs up … my ass. This is my life: poop without a toilet.
Meanwhile, at the urinal, I squint to read what must be professionally designed products of obscenity y'know, blow jobs (like hurricanes, maybe?) and stuff while relieving myself. I don't trust bathroom graffiti anymore. It's just something that people write while sweating and never follow through on. Hmm, like this column.
Back at the booth, for some reason I feel like being a brat, and flip myself headfirst into the next booth to talk to my friend Jen, leaving Jayne Mansfield and Anton LaVey to smell the awkward special-victims-unit toppling of my lower half. Jen listens dutifully as I detail my latest dirtbag Dynasty inflammation, smiles, hugs and fills my sympathy card with yet another superfluous signature.
So, this is my 30s.
And, apparently, my teens.
With only a small cue via a DJ playing "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers, I stand up in my booth, in the face of God and man, and perform boy-drag in such a way that even a coked-up Courtney Love would be jealous.
"When everything's lost, the battle is won," I croon, but not really. "With all these things that I've done."
And while for most it's just another downtown annoyance, for me, in this moment, it is nothing short of a gold-plated epiphany. My storm has passed. My levee is sandbagged. Naturally, I hope that everyone else is OK. And, yes, I would like to have my teeth whitened in a limo on the way to a hotel. Is that so wrong?