Used to be that heading out for a night on the town meant six hours or so of tedious preparation. There was the obligatory phone call to a friend-with-benefits, the growing momentum of some kind of buzz, odd discussions of venue size and/or, err, spinning, hair, and then the shoeless trip-and-stumble over to said friends suburban compound for the powder or pill of the day. Everybody stayed skinny and nobody cared. We could be heroes, if just for one day.
So it's with a modicum of chagrin that I find myself tonight, lifting my weighted ankles from the couch to throw myself into the nothingness that is the downtown life. I mean, what the hell am I going to do that I've never done before? Answer: shower. But seriously, folks, despite cleanliness issues, the whole "I'm going out" motif has seen little development since its Orlando "rave capital" heyday, and we don't even have a Giuliani to blame.
No, friends, we have ourselves. These days we're all being boring, and consequently, being bored. I think I need a drink.
"You look like you're filling out a little," offers my partner in crime, suspiciously named Billy, too cuter and more filled out than me.
Oh, no. Not that.
And just when I think I'm starting to get both fat and old, the radio ga-ga rushes in to rescue my sanity from the raging pit of self-doubt. "Hungry Like the Wolf" blares into a turned-up-too-loud vibra-rattle, and all of my cares are washed into the floorboard of my car like so many other spilt drinks. No stranger to Simon LeBon's primordial howl, I immediately jump into full-mullet mode, shaking off the Percocet blur of modern life. I'm burning the ground, you see, I break from the crowd, mostly because I'm on a hunt ... um, I'm after you. Snap out of it. Snap out of it. Snap out of it. I can't.
"We're Billy Billy!" I unwisely spit. "And this is Duran Duran!"
The other Billy, not quite as old (or fat?) as I am, transposes the smut/psycho anthem of all time into a series of "ba-da-pa-da, ta-ba-pa-ba-ta, I'm on a hunt I'm napster woo!" to practically the same effect. We're momentarily saved by the glory that is Duran Duran. And we're very, very happy.
What's more and there's always more the next song on our path to boredom is "Ordinary World." Now here I start to get suspicious, like some dusty gremlin is pulling the cords behind my excuse for a car stereo, attempting to manipulate my sensibilities into Formica and cocaine. Billy knows this one, as it is in his vulnerability realm of the early-to-mid '90s, so he cracks his LeBon-bons with the same unlistenable aplomb as I do. The DJ reveals, to my dropped and negligent jaw, that it's Nick Rhodes' birthday. We're both falling apart ... on yachts.
"I cannot get out of the car knowing that there might be another Duran Duran song," I pant, feeling that somehow my not hearing it will mean that trees that fall in woods won't have an audience. "We should just have a party in my car!"
"You wanna just drive around?" he nervously placates.
And so we do, cruising the periphery of Lake Eola, screaming down Orange Avenue, even pulling into the Orlando Weekly parking lot for the obligatory "this is where I (don't) work" observation. "Girls on Film" and "New Moon on Monday" follow, soundtracking our Tourette's outbursts throughout, scaring families and loiterers alike. This is what I do best: avoid the inevitable and make too much noise.
But the '80s are over. This is the '90s, after all, yo. Or the ... oh whatever.
At least, so it would seem as we land upon the dangling Christmas lights that overstate Bar-B-Q Bar. I feel like Angela Chase and I imagine Billy as my Jordan Catalano, as we attempt to create the mess that is My So-Called Column. Billy, however, would never swap spit with me in the high-school boiler room, so these fantasies will have to confine themselves to my slam book along with all of those people who thought I was gay. Ignorant. They're just ignorant.
"Bittersweet Symphony" Verves its way over the dirty calm, and I'm neither bitter nor sweet, just thirsty, having exposed my vocal cords to the amphetamine highs of LeBon and painful lows of the voices in my head.
Hot guys in varying stages of dishevelment slump by, while Billy and I fast assume our roles as Olympic cock judges.
"Ooooh, they still make cute guys like that?" I shop, some thickness of sweet perfection in plaid pants leaving the corner of my eye.
"It's like baby pigeons," he coos. "You don't see them, but you know they're there."
I offer that we're possibly sitting in a dilapidated version of the Peach Pit, all washed out with heroin and no soap. So we immediately slip into a nostalgia trip involving Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light, and Brian Austin Green's underpants. Please, Hammer. Hurt us.
"I want those pants ... on my floor," Billy snaps back when the plaid passes again.
"In my mouth!" I smack my wet hand onto the gutter pavement.
Things descend, duly, as another ladyfriend, Tom (who isn't named Billy, sadly) pops by with a popped top. Billy's all hopped up on Diet Coke, to which I cat, "Your Diet Coke is waaaayy different than my coke diet." Mwahahahahahahaha! Oh.
And as we assume our tragic roles in this grunge-lite production of Sex and the City (Beautiful), talking about pricks we've teased and toilets we've fucked over, I get the slight feeling that maybe things aren't so bad, just slow to come around. Orlando is like the gay man that refuses to grow up, teasing his hair and downing disco cocktails until the mirrorball blurs into the sun. It's not the end of the world, really. Just a momentary pause.
"Are you Billy Manes?" quizzes a polka-dot skirt as we pour out of the bar. "Do you have any psycho Billy Manes fans yet? 'Cuz I'll be the first."
And probably the last.