When an evening starts with yours truly referring to his own aching posterior as a Weekend at Bernie's, aloud and proud at a 4 p.m. happy hour, you could be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the dirty exploits of this particular Tuesday, and therefore this particular column, may be composed of little more than awkward bar-stool fidgeting and the sort of pinched-faced observations that that implies. But I love poopy humor. Poopy, poopy, poopy! See, it's always funny.

      For absolutely no good reason, tonight I'm in a terribly good mood. I've corralled a couple of friends (Tony and Sue, we'll call them) and we're headed off to the sweet serenity (ahem) of an art opening called "Bamboo" at the Comma Gallery on Virginia, where we're sure to cross one arm, splay the other one out in an almost-point and mutter things like "How rococo, yo," or "It looks like Salvador Dali cut off his ear." Art openings are a good place to brew irony and we're just getting started.

      Immediately we bump into Sandra and Dan, who are, perhaps not-ironically, "scooter people." (Think of dogs pooping here). Sandra writes for Scooter World Magazine, which is odd enough on its own, but she is also an acquaintance of mine from certain message boards and events involving a band that I mention far too frequently on this page. Dan is quiet and compliant.

      "He knows when it's Duran-time," Sandra smirks.

      Anyway, when the conversation reflexively shifts to celebrities who feature scooters in their glamorous, slightly slower-moving lives ("celebrity scooterists," Sandra coins my favorite phrase ever), I get this.

      "You should come out some time, Billy."

      I am out.

      "Well, Carrot Top goes on these rides, so you have to!"

      Wow. I scribble down something in my notes about my life being over, and the methods of prop-suicide I might use to kiss my beloved death hello.

      "Oh, and there's Rikki Rockett of Poison."


      Anyway, the pice de résistance for tonight's pseudo-swanky plastic-cup affair is a small backroom installation by local crazy and art hero Doug Rhodehamel. He's constructed a mock bamboo garden out of paper-towel and toilet-paper (!) rolls, dimmed the lights, strung paper butterflies with glow-stick spines from paper leaves and waited for people to wander through and say things like, "I need to bring my potter's wheel in here." Which they do.

      "I don't think you're supposed to talk," Sue leans in to me.

      Well, some people aren't anyway. People like me, for instance.

      I grab Doug to quiz him about the origins of his vision, his methods, his life in art. Or, rather, I ask him, "What did you do with all the toilet paper?"

      "I wrapped it around some trees and cut them down," he burns my ass. "And most of it was actually made with real pandas. Uh, can you get me some water, boy?"

      I love Doug, as does most every other self-effacing, product-hairstyle of Orlando's disenfranchised 30-something glut, apparently.

      I bump into more people than I can remember – mostly because I can't remember anybody (Todd, Tina, Dave, Jessica, Mary-Frances or something) – and realize that when I can't get the rubber cork out of the chilled Cabernet to pour it into my plastic cup, I probably just shouldn't drink. Instead, I pour myself back into the exhibit and locate some lukewarm sake, which I hate.

      "It tastes like second-grade fluoride swishing," I gag, then spit.

      "I wish I went to your elementary school," Tony swallows. Totally.

      And just before Tony can lean into a small Asian lady and ask her if it "feels like home" in here, I whisk my bamboozled entourage off toward the door, tripping over Weekly ex-pat Liz Langley on the way out. Oh, to be a columnist that "people" actually enjoy reading. (While at least a few in attendance here lie and tell me that they love my column, I've learned that that's just parlance for "Don't be mean to me. Mention me, but don't be mean to me." Wow, talk about self-effacing hairstyles!)

      Over at the Peacock Room, my friends and I sidle up to the bar for a little bit of overripe philosophical debunking of our current occupation in life: holding up the sides of the middle. After a couple of cocktails, I'm cheerleader-hoarse, and I'm on fire.

      "There's other places to be than 'the best!'" I holler out like it means something.

      Tony immediately jumps up and hugs me.

      "That's why I love you," he grins. "Can I steal that?"

      "It's yours."

      We talk a lot about "giving a shit" (!) and "beating around the bush" (eww), ending up with what feels like one of the most amazing conversations ever. Although I suspect that if I ever heard it on surveillance tape I would turn into Carrot Top on a scooter heading straight for a cliff.

      Still, somewhere in the stirred-up mess of indifference, I end up full-on couple dancing with Sentinelite Mary-Frances Emmons to my favorite local band (they all are), Doris Delay, and effectively losing myself in the ether.

      Thereafter, I'm reminded that I must give a shit by the vein-throated political conversations and stranger introductions involving the term "mayor" that follow. That, and my Weekend at Bernie's, a constant reminder.

      Yeah, I give a shit.

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