Hair-flattening humidity? Check. Innate sense of mentally sublime pretentiousness? Check. Stomach-gurgling fit of digestive instability peculiar to moments that start with "mo" and end with "ment"? Yep, that too. By all indications, this must be the evening of all evenings, that which spits up humility and calls it top-shelf vodka, then ties reason around its neck for the ultimate superlative suicide. You take the good, you take the bad, you shit them out and there you have Orlando Weekly's annual Best of Orlando party. Yay, you! Yay, us!
It's not that I'm complaining, because I don't do that sort of thing. It's just that things are off to a "worst of" start at my humble downtown estate. The performance is already beginning and I haven't even left the house. Admittedly, I'm a bit tedious to be around at the moment: one hour of sleep, and six hours of green-tea-fueled night terrors involving 1950s airline warning posters with stick-figure men bending over with question marks as their heads. You don't want to talk to me right now. But surely you want to go out with me to the party of the year, don'tcha? "Why don't you just go by yourself?" crows my date/husband from the bathroom.
"But … but … but …" I stammer in my best unnerved '70s housewife/entertainer voice. "I really neeeeed you right now. I could really use some sensitivity after today, this AWFUL day, and all you're giving me is this? THIS?"
Makeup would stream down my face at this point, my pantyhose would probably run and a fine crystal glass would fall to the floor, were I guilty (or financially capable) of any of the above indulgences. Instead my stomach just rumbles as I plop and pout and drink SKYY out of a tumbler, delivering what is quite possibly the Best Understated Performance of the Year. Only nobody notices.
"Just go!" Alan changes the channel.
"Fine!" I wish I could send myself out, too … without the physical me.
But, alas, there are people to see and drinks to spill on them, so I throw on my best imaginary party dress. This is the Best Of, baby, and I'm at least, uh, better.
The scene this year is the Sexless in the City slip dress known as Rhythm & Flow, where even the humble approach feels like it has your debit card number, slowly draining your flow at a hostile rhythm. Tonight, however, is free. Well, and I mean "well,"' some of it's free, anyway.
The first two things I see when I walk in are Orlando Weekly politico Jeff Billman, in-a-tie; and a slab of uncut, marinated beef. I can't decide which is more appetizing. Billman approaches with foppish confidence and does his standard "Billy Maaanes": delivered with a patronizing lisp at the end, and followed by some sort of equally charming gayish quip.
"Oh, I looove when you do your gay voice." I don't use mine. "Have you seen the beef?"
Actually I love Jeffrey C., mostly for his perpetual public displays of affection which he delivers with some frequency tonight but also because he's a good, solid drinker … I mean reporter. Which reminds me, I need a drink.
Although I tend to think that I'm "somebody," I am in reality a 120-pound Q-tip that is fairly unable to penetrate a waxy bar three-deep in hefty, be-suited movers and shakers. My legs may occasionally part, but the sea does not, and it takes me about a half-hour to even acquire my well-brand screwdriver. Which I hate.
Much of the rest of the evening is spent hopping from odd character to odd character, most of whom have been featured in my column at one point or another, which leads to me voicing (to absolutely no one) that this is like a "Best of Blister" party. Heh.
Will Walker and I spend too many minutes talking about a few too many drunken bumps that we've issued to our heads in our mutual 33 years, while people occasionally pop up to ask him about his bar closing an Orlando Weekly report issued last week apparently knew more than he does. "You tell me," he says, repeatedly.
I offer myself up for a church auction to an affable Unitarian while staring at a gray head next to me. Then the gray head turns around and it's Democratic party animal Doug Head's gray head. "What was it you called me? Uber? Ubiquitous?" he smiles real big. Both, I think.
Editor Bob Whitby grabs my ass. Advertising phoenix Dan Winkler green-suits his way over to tell me that a short person is walking around with my picture and a pen and had asked him if he knew where I was. "Stalker, probably," says Winkler, whose suit sure is green.
"Yeah, I get that all the time." Or, I don't.
Whitby grabs my ass again, this time pushing me forward and into somebody. "Your ass-grab caused me a cock push!" I don't really blush.
A big burly Brian Martin, classified director, offers me horsey rides on his lap, like he does at every Weekly party. I politely decline. Copy editor and hair-chunk maven Jessica Bryce Young and I discuss the fact that the same trance-house song-loop has been playing all night ("I'd kill for a melody!" she harmonizes), before she takes heat from a business owner who might or might not have appreciated Young's bulimic commentary in the Best Of issue.
Drag queens, politicians, lawyers, businessmen, musicians, people like me and quite a few not like me, all blend together into the acid-eaten blur of Orlando's cacophonous symphony, and it's all bloody fantastic. It's by far the Best of the Best of Orlando parties, and enough evidence that this swishy city is one hell of a stiff melting pot. I'm just glad to be in the thick of it.
The Best of my Best Of night, though, has to be my fated connection with Real Radio superstar Sexy Savannah. First of all, Savannah is the most ridiculously fabulous person present, walking up to well-wishers and strangers alike, cooing a "Hey! Who are you?" in their faces without a sprinkle of irony. But more than that, Savannah loves me. I mean, she LOVES me, and I LOVE her back. We talk a lot about nonblond things like our careers (scoop: She's moved to Shannon Burke. Scandalous! Me, I'm close to unemployment), and then about blond things like boys and drinking and synchronicity and stuff. Y'know, the best stuff. Stuff like us.
It doesn't get any better than that.