Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle go the lights attached to wires attached to plugs wedged into drywall sockets, and the process of illumination — ornamented stillness cramped into a real estate coffin, now with the odd temporal purpose of Christmas glee — turns ever so uncomfortably into a process of elimination. There's a flimsy hook threaded through a hole carved into the top of my head, and not even gravity's downward pull could shake my rounded, reflective body from the cozy confines of plastic pine-tree suspension. I'll just hang here, lynched in celebration, for another go around another year's curve. Save your convivial advances peddling tides of yule in punchbowls. I'm growing fond of the refracted shadow I cast on my own wall.
"You up for a column tonight?" Taylor bends my branch via telephone.
"I wasn't. I mean, I'm not." The star — or my husband — frowns down from the top of the tree. "I mean, what did you have in mind?"
"Well, only the most ridiculous specimen of gender-bent histrionics you've ever wanted to point and laugh at," the pitch follows, but fades somewhere in the atmospherics of pop-cultural word association: something, something, repo, something, hilarious.
"Surely you don't mean Repo Man." I totally want to go get sushi and not pay for it.
Naturally, the event Taylor's plucked from the white-noise pantheon of hyper-stimulated boredom known as Orlando is not the Emilio Estevez vehicle I would have hoped to repossess for the purposes of self-distraction, but rather that of one Paris Hilton singing about pain pills and organ failure in Repo! The Genetic Opera. There are drag queens putting it on at Pulse tonight and because we were quietly constructed from the ashes of guest lists past — googly eyes hot-glued on later — we're lucky enough to be present on one such list in the present. My organs are failing. It's as if it were meant to be.
A half-hour later in Taylor's music-studio loft, the slow swagger and "Remember the first time you heard this song?" fallout requisite to any late-2009 airing of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" fills the room. He does (and says so, ominously); I don't, although I do remember that time that I became Billy Idol because I saw him live with the neighborhood slut on the Whiplash Smile tour and still didn't manage to get any because, upon further thought, I didn't want any. None of this gay "eyes" talk will get us anywhere, but, as it turns out, we don't need to be anywhere at all yet. Due to some crack in the drag-time continuum, the show that we had been led to believe was starting around 10 p.m. probably won't happen until midnight, sooo?
"We could eat at Taco Bell?" Taylor's gotten me a long way from home to be suggesting bean digestion at this point. Also, not sushi.
"Or we could go to Wylde's."
And this is how things break. Direct routes turn into sparsely lit odysseys of ramshackle nonesuch, and that space on the dead tree — just hanging there without any outward purpose — comes like a postcard to the mind of "wishing" and "here." But for an auspicious gaggle of jock jerseys creeping out of Wylde's weird Wii room, the bar's forbidden-tree strange fruit, on first glance, just seems to exist there like potted plants, honoring the time-tested queer silence of in-between social self-containment. A bartender props himself up on a stool and winces only occasionally at the daftness in the air.
"Do you remember the first time you heard this song?" Taylor's face eats a lemon.
Within moments, two celebrants have crowded a corner jukebox and decided to re-enact the canned romanticism of mall-learned "samba" or "salsa," twinkling their toes to K.D. Lang's "Miss Chatelaine" on repeat. It's both heartwarming and David Lynch harrowing in its subtext, but as moments go, this is not one of any overarching resonance. This, dear reader, is random.
It's also contagious, a fact Taylor and I might realize between our googly eyes over his own chewing of a Taco Bell burrito in gritty-throat-step to a Dame Shirley Bassey number in my car 10 minutes later. Then again, we might not. Nothing makes sense.
The scene at Pulse isn't much more promising. The expected crowd of musical
Botox faces falling from the bones that suspend them in no way materializes — save for a few older gays peppering the white room's perimeter — and we're left with that unraveling feeling of the terra firma of an intended destination just racing further and faster towards the horizon.
"Did we miss the show?" Taylor asks the bartender, Juan.
No satisfactory answer is given — just that kind of broken-English smirk utilized by locals to sustain the confusion of tourists — and we settle back into our endless wait for, I don't know, gay Godot? Our nervous shared dialogue travels into trite territory, like, "Hey, don't you think that Juan and I should totally be friends again; I mean, I was only an ass to him once in print and that was seven years ago. It's dried, spilled milk with no emotional humidity left for the required faux tear condensation."
So I spill a glass of wine to keep it present. Just then, a wooly mammoth in Bedrock Uggs and drag face stomps into the pristine whiteness of our void. Taylor disappears for a minute to confer with the specimen, while I silently scream things at myself about emptiness just to not hear the echo.
"I hate to tell you this," Taylor eyes my face a few minutes later. "The Repo show was at Revolution at 10. So, uh, at least we don't have to walk out."
Nope. We can just hang here and stare into our shadows. No one will ever firstname.lastname@example.org