Indulge me

Who do I think I am? Washed up at the crest of a new year's dawning, I can't be too sure myself.

But there can be no denying that 2001 happened -- believe me, I've tried -- and that through each week of it, I did something stupid. Regrets? Well, interspersed ramblings regarding personal co-dependence and the infidel musings of my estranged redneck beauhunk hardly qualify as healthy discourse. Thank you for indulging me.

Oh, and smoking is cool, right?

But I've been gifted with the chance to conjure little messes in an otherwise placid material world of PR princesses and the sheep that they position. It's a good gig. Ba-a-a-ah.

Time for a little "Behind the Billy" then, as I retrospect my little year that could. The real life. The real story. And maybe, just maybe, a little something to make it all feel like it mattered.

Prior to the tumbling towers, the big news around the gawking world was the boyband fermentation of one A.J. McLean. Before his rehab retreat, the Backstreet Badboy held a mock press conference for his mock second personality (three, there are three!) Johnny No Name at Hard Rock Live. What's worse, my roommate was doing his hair ... which he had just shaved! Don't you miss the pre 9-11 crises?

Anyway, the signs of his personal collapse were apparent despite the indoor sunglasses: A.J. was about to break. But news of his foundation (something involving diabetes ... like his dog had) wasn't. Only a scant three journalists littered the floor in front of the podium, backed by a lower-than-expected legion of big girls.

"You write that column in the Weekly," leaned one national journo. "You say the things we all want to say, but aren't allowed to."

Yeah, but I show up at things that nobody would want to, also. Bye, bye, Backstreet.

When I was invited to butt pinheads with gay cable interior decorating magnate Christopher Lowell, I didn't even know who he was; the smell from a hot glue gun seemed far more inviting. But a little housewife research revealed him to be the national hero of suburban boredom. Who could pass that up?

Not the 7-year-old mouse-eared boy who fanatically came running up to him as he entered the room, mom nervously in tow.

"Oh my god, it's Christopher Lowell!" he squeaked. "I watch you all the time!"

Gay by ten.

Once seated in the hotel lobby, the harnessed (he had "thrown out" his arm, you see) gadabout poured his thick, mouthy resume all over me, stopping only to breathe and adjust his color wheel. I had to meet Sisqo later the same day, so my thong was already in a bind when Miss Fix-it fell deeply into herself, offering that terra cotta was indeed her favorite color, and that, yes, she was going to rule the word. I wished I hadn't worn underwear.

And then there was the time I met Joey McIntyre at a superfluous Fourth of July radio event. My intentions weren't necessarily good. Admittedly, I had had a crush on the mouthy Boston boyband survivor since my early days as a New Kid, dreaming about absurd situations in which he and Donnie (the original boyband badboy) would show up to save my party or something and then ask me to join the band. I'm not kidding. I should be, but I'm not.

More alarming than charming, Joey version 2001 has managed to acquire a face glitch that threatened to ruin my whole interview, with slight teeth whistles interrupting just about every embittered reflection his Abercrombies could squeeze out. The subject switched to drugs (natch, A.J.), and Joey clacked a credit card on the table like he knew what junkies used it for. Was he hitting on me? Where do the children go?

Answer: Christopher Lowell.

Oh, but these are just my favorites. More often than not, I'd simply be mistaken for serious press, sitting at some convention hall and staring into the glazed eyes of a Peggy Fleming or a Deidre Hall -- long after the children had gone -- while they blithered on about homeopathic menopausal concerns. Apparently, everything goes all milky around age 60. And me, I'd just be sitting there (thinking charming thoughts like, when it dries up, just let it dry up ... I mean, your career) pricking open my eyes and waiting to take it all out of context. Because, um, everything is funny out of context, right?

Well, not to everyone. Even some of the more harmless baits and switches of the past year have ended up with absurd public outcry. Case in point: Gioia. The former singer of Exposé (insert your own joke here) came to town on a typical Orlando publicity bender: something to do with kids and violence. We met, we talked, she hugged me and gabbed a little too much about gay people -- you know, like that smile-too-much-at-a-party girl would. No, we're not all soooo funny. No, we don't all want to go shopping with you. Whatever. We had fun shopping and being funny. The article did invite one naysayer to burp up an epithet of "trailer-trash gossip queen" amid cries for my firing, though. And I'll toast to that till the wheels fall off my hot-pink doublewide.

OK, maybe none of it mattered after all. Thank you for indulging me.

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