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"This moisture-rich daily conditioner reconstructs and strengthens damaged hair. Detangles and eliminates static leaving hair smooth, silky and shiny. K-Pak's Triamine Complex contains exclusive blends of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins that make up your hair's structure. Molecular weights and sizes (MWS) ranging from 150 to 2500 protect and moisturize treated hair. pH 4.5-5.5."

Well, everything could be perfect, then, right?

"Distribute a small amount to damp hair. Leave in for 1 minute. Rinse well."


Here in my bathtub, my microcosm of perfection and salacious nudity, all is right with the world. Sure, I could use some personal grooming of the razor-to-chest sort, a more reachable cocktail and somebody to reach my nethers so that I might avoid a potential sprain, but no worries. I'm going to make the best of tonight. My hair is stronger, my heart is stronger, everything, everyone, is fine.

Yay, me!

Throwing my new pozzie attitude on like a bejeweled hip-purse, I shuffle out the door with a glow that can only be described as a transcendent light at the altar of life's glory; amino acids and molecular weights akimbo in some dance of radiant, open-relationship matrimony. Poof and I'm gone.

In the car, I speed-dial an old friend for some New York-style catch-up and settle into my trajectory of fantastically forward motion. She rattles on about advertising, her dirty back road and uncut penises, while I opt to Strawberry Shortcake on subjects more in line with my current purity. Then, at a stop sign, it all unravels and everything is not fine.

"I'm moving to Hawaii," she Pearl Harbors, while I rest at Pennsylvania and New England. "I want to become a waitress and a rugged surfer chick. You know, find something I really love. New York can be so lonely."

"I know what you mean. Talk to my couch."

Arriving at my destination – Dexter's in Winter Park for some retrospective noodling from local "super" group, Good Golly Miss Molly Hatch It – I'm struck by a loss. I've left my cigarettes at home and I'm very lonely. So, I rifle through my car for a half-pack that I spilt a cocktail on six months ago, and pretend to move on. My pH is dropping.

Inside, it's … well, Winter Park. Taut faces of money waft about in tandem with the scents of nouveau cuisine while the tasteful din of perfunctory emotional exchanges threatens to swallow spontaneity like so many snips of garnish. Equal parts happy and sad, it's all very much nothing. The band, the brainchild of Casiopeia's Carlos DeSoto is assembling its instruments in the corner, and it all feels sadly like the "Sussudio" video, you know, by Phil Collins. A song they might do later, given the inclination, as this whole thing is supposed to exist in some sort of conditioned irony. Check the band name. It's in there.

"Hey Carlos," chimes the broad-shouldered and tragically earnest sax/singer for the act, while the keyboard player rehearses "Just What I Needed". "She has a new name for the band: Nice Young Men." "She" being a hostess/manageress type who could probably use some of my conditioner.

Another woman walks by in a mini-skort fashioned with both hibiscus and leopard themes – those and the expanse of the desert, if you were to count the camel toe. Concerned, I run to the bar for a smidge of elixir, only to find myself peering over a salt-and-pepper shoulder to get the latest on a court deposition involving construction fraud.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Winter Park.

It's not so bad, though, because Anthony Cole is in the lineup and, a long time ago, we used to be friends. We decide to convene outside for a liquor-rotted cigarette and some old-fashioned finishing of each other's sentences.

"Do you remember the time we shared a bed …"

"And it was Martin Luther King Day …"

"And I woke up next to a black man, and decided to call my mother and tell her that I was doing my part?"

Blech. I love Anthony. His face alone is a show, expressions cracking in perfect time to the disappointments that invite them. I throw out a story about a recent conversation in which somebody uttered the words "wiggle room" and wasn't joking. "Did someone say 'wiggle room'?" I then wiggled, imagining myself a nightclub entrepreneur just snorting a new idea.

Anthony gets it, because Anthony gets everything.

Back inside, the band oozes through a standard set of smooth jazz – meant to lubricate digestion, I presume – and the singer says things like, "This one's from the Billie Holiday songbook," eventually veering into Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover." By the time they hit their stride at Spandau Ballet's "True," I've got a pill on my tongue, and one underneath too.

"This may be the only song they ever wrote," the singer chortles.

Then I actually heckle, "They had 10 albums!" which means I need to leave.

On the way home, I'll stop by both Will's and the Peacock, hoping to find some more conditioner for my column, but instead finding more of the lowbrow that I love to brush: old friends at the former, a talent show involving a boogie board at the latter, more drinks. Another friend of yore, Brian Chodorcoff, will bend my depressed ear with some justification as to how my being mean in print actually makes sense because "that's how people really feel," and I'll remind him to love himself. I'll scribble something absurd like, "I've scrubbed his toilet, but I've never felt his legs," into my notebook, and everything will fall into place. With a little help, anyway.

"Active ingredient in each tablet: Diphenhydramine hydrochloride 25 mg. Use helps to reduce difficulty in falling asleep."

Good night.

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