As hard as it might be to believe, I used to be something of a romantic hazard. Prior to this older-by-the-minute stint as a marinated raconteur with a heart of crushed ice, I made a tragic career of searching commitment-phobic ribcages for tiny, poetic pulses of hope, scattering irony-free ashes of, "Will he call me in the morning, because my soul will die if he doesn't!" around any number of lost causes, burnt logs and sorta straight men in bands. I have seen the dark side of the ankle while holding tight to a hairy leg walking out the door. I have been that girl.
But like most "that girls" with emotional calluses, I've tiptoed across the age-30 line, misting most of my flammable sexual responses down to a sort of implied humility, an invisible heart-shaped pine box splintering my back. There's no need to make a scene anymore, mostly because scenes take twice as long to clean up as they do to craft. Turns out that most of the drug-fueled histrionics of vampiric trysts were less romance than infection, anyway. Funny, that.
Antibiotically, I've reached tonight's destination a video shoot at Will's Pub for local glam-stompers Zoa a little too little and a little too late. By the time we walk in the door, the whole fandango has already run its course, and the most rock-&-roll abandon I can see is a pair of hairless legs with pumps on them poking up from a circle of Aqua Net aficionados.
"So I've missed everything?" I lick at lead singer Todd's hair.
"Oh, you didn't miss anything, Billy Manes," he deadpans. "We're total crap."
But I love crap!
By all accounts the affair has been a complete success, makeup running down fishnets fast enough to make the New York Dolls feel like pansy frauds. Like me! I miss everything.
I'm with Anna, my friend from last week's column, who is likewise antibiotically charged, insisting that I might have taken her "completely out of context" last week by turning the noun "yeast" into a verb in close proximity to her name. Her "va-jay-jay" was actually itching due to depilatory issues and not the froth of death, she clarifies. Oh, sorry.
But just being at Will's is making my va-jay-jay flare up into puffy, Rolling Stones hot lips, what with all of the regrettable memories the place perpetually smacks into my hollow head. This is, after all, the place where I fell for a suicidal junkie while dancing through my own suicide attempt. "This is what it will look like in three years," the junkie said, eyeing my bandaged wrists, then his. "See? No big deal."
The (no) big deal was sealed with a blow job that he would pretend not to remember, and three months of one-sided speedball (his chocolate, my peanut butter) courtship that found me consonant-impaired. The whole thing culminated in an overdose in front of Will's Pub on a heavy metal night. The river Phoenixed, drowning me in regret and hospital bills. Heh.
Seven years later it still isn't funny, although this particular mess has cleaned up considerably. But just approaching that stool to the far left of the bar pulls up a bubble of bile before a necessary, uncomfortable giggle. OK, it is kind of funny.
Funnier still, on our way out, bartendress extraordinaire Sarah has found herself in a pedicure panic. Some giant ball of hair, denim and leather is slurring to her about her mandatory "initiation," and Sarah, always politely compliant, is giggling nervously while he sucks on her toes.
"That's filthy!" I mock, but pretend not to.
"Filthy and beautiful and kind," he flubbers defensively.
Anna and I quickly take off, heading for the highball climes of the nearby Peacock Room for drinks that involve mixing. Settling into the ambience of dimly lit couches, we positively exude elegance and stability, pretending to talk to each other the way that grown-ups do, and avoiding any mention of our va-jay-jays. Sanity prevails. For a minute, anyway.
"Hey, will you draw an octopus on my arm?" approaches former Weekly graphic designer, and local crazyhead, Doug Rhodehamel.
As we do because what else could we do Doug informs us that the other octopi on his arm (and there are a few) were actually ballpointed by professional comic artists at the visiting geek convention MegaCon. We are very impressed, needless to say. And mildly frightened.
"Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" a girlish scream of tanked sorority euphoria crashes over from the couch behind, nearly sending the octopi aswim. "Blaaaa! Blaaaa!"
This is my least favorite sound. No, wait this is:
"You're that guy from the paper. Billy, right?" a pretty blonde named Tracy with perfectly conditioned hair slants her eyes away from the noise of her galpals. "You wrote about my hair in one of your columns, and my co-workers brought me conditioner for a week. I love you and hate you."
I love me and hate me, too.
"How do you like my condition now?"
Uh, a lot?
Tracy's on Saint Bernard duty tonight, nursing her friend Jenny back to post-breakup self-awareness by means of ample alcohol supplementation. There's a lot of noise involved in all of this, and frankly, I'm scared.
"You write for the paper?" Jenny leans a little too far in. "You know what you should write about? You should write about dating in Orlando, and how you can't trust anybody."
Good idea. But I feel a little for Jenny. She's littering the town, quite ingeniously, with flyers containing a picture of her cheating ex, hoping to see him demolished to romantic ruins. "Attention: Ladies. Beware: this man is a Liar, a Cheater, and Thief" the flyer reads, alongside a skull and crossbones. Jenny says her ex stole her checkbook, slept around while living with her, and generally preyed on her personal insecurities … all of which are liquor-amplified tonight. She's nothing if not industrious, though, and after just a few minutes I want to see the guy fry. And I want to leave.
So I do, heading back to the bed of my sleeping boyfriend and the relative peace of minor-league, published housewifedom. I'm happier now. I'm not that girl anymore.