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Purple rain and lost love in the mini-apple 

This was supposed to be easy. The always laughable mass of culture that is Mike Tyson was set to lisp something about how much he loves children -- and, perhaps how much he shouldn't like facial tattoos -- at a Thursday Toys for Tots benefit. Only, Tyson never showed, and I ended up drinking to the children absolutely celebrity-free. Damn.

I had to think of something quick, naturally, as I was set to skip town Friday morning on a personal pilgrimage. Then I realized how much more of a knockout that would be than any indiscernible mantras from Tyson's tarnished gloves. My embarrassment has made a mint for me in this particular column for some time, so why stop now? It only hurts when I laugh. Ha, ha, ha.

So why not do something like, "How I spent my winter vacation," or rather, "How I dragged 123 pounds to Minneapolis to realize love lost, freeze into yellow ice and possibly turn into either Vanity or Apollonia, depending on which Prince still prefers"?

And you know what would make it really funny? No? Howsabout getting really drunk on the plane, as I would never be expected to do, and making a complete ass of myself? "Let's go crazy, let's get nuts," and so on.

Well, not really. Turns out that altitude does funny things to the meek of liver, and before I know it I'm shooting from the hip with a saucy Navy recruiter to my left, who has absolutely no professional interest in me, except perhaps a concern that I might fall over and she might have to be the masculine one to pick me up.

Vanity drank a lot, right? No problem.

After a bizarre connection in Memphis -- and I say bizarre because it is Memphis, and also because I'm not exactly sure how I got from one end of the airport to the other, especially considering that an airline stewardess had to run after me with my alcohol-stained boarding pass -- I'm back on board, face pressed ridiculously against the window, awaiting my next purple encounter. Except it doesn't turn out to be purple, but rather a yellowish orange: A screwdriver and, well, a Kraft salesman.

"I love your macaroni and cheese dinner," I gush with amusement. "Nobody else can quite get that cheese-food-into-powder thing right."

Which is funny, because I never eat.

"Uh, yeah," he says, adding, "I can't drink because my boss is up there. But maybe you should try pouring two tiny airplane bottles of SKYY into that tiny little plastic cup of orange juice."

Sage advice to be sure, but I'm not sure if he's kidding.

To be fair, I take his advice, then ramble on about something involving cheese, Prince and this beloved column. He turns into a cube of Velveeta and drifts off.

Me, I drink.

In time I arrive in sunny Minneapolis -- which I say here with irony because clearly it is not sunny in Minneapolis, and even if it was, I'd be too bleary-eyed to know. Apollonia was bleary-eyed, right? Probably not this bleary-eyed.

As I walk into the brisk Minnesota air, registering somewhere below the temperature of a cocktail ice cube and above the realm of Antarctica, I'm taken with my physical instability. Naturally, I angle towards a curb to wait for my ride, when -- surprise! -- I fall head first into somebody else's car. Not even Mayte, or for that matter, even Diamond or Pearl, ever fell this far, I think to myself. My failure seems imminent. I am not to be Prince's bitch.

I should explain here that my actual motivation for my tundra affair was only secondarily this schizophrenic foray into purple pop culture. In fact, I've flown up to visit the one who got away.

That would be Dwayne, perfect Dwayne, who, when told on our last day together in college that indeed the reason I skipped a whole semester to stalk him was that I was "in love with him," and not really to talk about saving the world like Indigo Girls, kindly responded, "I wish I knew! It could have worked!"


These days, perfect Dwayne is all but married to a gorgeous buyer for Target, and is himself one of the most respected restaurateurs in whatever they call this area of the world. Meaning he eats.

Luckily, he still drinks, too.

After a few days of chi-chi holiday parties and a lot of spilled-wine apologies, he lets me in on a little surprise. Rufus Wainwright -- the other lost love of my life, although not as seriously -- is in town Sunday night. And even better, he'll be playing at the very club where Prince lensed "Purple Rain."

At the show, I immediately assume my position, rightnext to the bar, where Apollonia would be, and implore Dwayne to stand behind me (like Prince), while I quietly smile to myself, only to look over my shoulder and see that he is gone. In my head I'll be wearing a camisole, touching myself suggestively, even wiping a little bit of bathroom powder from my nose. I'll be jockeying for a position at the nightclub and turn around to find the man who is going to steal my clothes while we're skinny-dipping, drive off on a motorcycle, then come back like he didn't just totally exploit my overt sexuality. I mean, really.

Dwayne plays along (albeit with a face more like a sympathetic stepfather), we both cry to the genius that is Rufus, and for a moment life seems complete. Or completely delusional.

"Where's Prince?" cries Rufus from the stage. "I've been dreaming of Prince the whole way here!"

I'm not sure, Rufus. But I have a good idea where Apollonia (er, Vanity) is. Right here, baby. Right here.

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