There's always something missing. A couple of diamond earrings and a big gold "whore" bangle from a Lindsay Lohan Elle magazine photo shoot, a little green sliver of DNA from the genetic code of the angry, amplified God-squadders outside the Weekly every deadline day, an umlaut here, parsley there, foreskin, all fueling the anxiety rush to fill a hole, to quell a need, just so that someday, somewhere, there will be quiet in the place of this temporal sieve. "Every old sock," Kate Bush trills somewhere off in the distance, "meets an old shoe."
"Nice of you to wear your shoes," David's bionic brow scans the apartment, and stops at my still-there Kenneth Coles.
"Why, are you serving sushi?" is the best I can do in the face of his fear of whatever might be trod in on a tread. "I'm not hungry."
We've gathered here on this Friday afternoon — a Josh, a Justin, David's eyebrow and my feet — for some sort of low-key tailgate to the apocalypse. David, who should not be referred to as, but is a big fan of Tool, is the focal point of today's shenanigans, and, to be fair, doesn't really want me here. But the fact that throat-Tool Maynard James Keenan is breezing through Orlando on a bottle-signing tour for his Arizona Stronghold Vineyard is too much of a disconnect for me to pass up. To wit: Wouldn't grapes in Arizona be classified as raisins? Also, how would the man responsible for such exaggerated ham-fist wordplay as "Prison Sex" and "Disgustipated" translate his cracked aesthetics into the subtleties of burnt cedar and naphthalene on the mid-palate? I can only imagine that his best cabernet would exhibit the faint scent of dead mother's blood on its cork, with a touch of jelly worm lures and dirty socks. This is very exciting.
"You know it's going to be just like a Manic Panic convention at Hot Topic with a bunch of scary spiderweb tattoos pumping cinderblocks by the dumpster out back, right?" I blink, blink and blink.
"Not all Tool fans are like that," David doesn't. "You're getting a little mouthy lately. I'm just sayin'. A little mouthy."
In preparation for the candy-colored deluge, I'm throwing back grape vodka tonics while the others entertain themselves with less liquid hijinks. David, who swears by not watching television except that which involves Diane Sawyer and Netflix, has met the digital transition with a 55-inch Samsung flat-screen on which we're all gazing off into the life and death of bizarre species on a Blu-ray of Planet Earth. There are birds that clean their own dirt-stages in the interest of perfecting their mating rituals (they do not wear shoes), whales jumping in the air with seals in their mouths and the peculiar high-definition feeling that we're seeing too much.
"You know what's missing here," I rub my eyes. "You need cable."
"I don't want cable."
"Well, does your Blu-ray even play DVDs?"
"Begrudgingly," David offers in the voice of a Blu-ray player. "It tries to make them better, it really does."
Maybe it's me who's missing something, after all. I only see the holes.
By the time I've finished pressing my tongue into every theoretical mouth sore I can find, we realize that it's probably time to get going, time to go-go-go and stare blankly into the entrepreneurial eyes of a painfully didactic howler junkie. We could miss him! So we load our slightly intoxicated selves into Josh's car and set out on a whimsical pilgrimage to the dark star. Yay.
"Mouthy, babe," David nudges me in the back seat. "A little too mouthy."
There is an interstate involved on our trek to the Whole Foods Market on Turkey Lake Road, so it is no surprise to anyone involved when the whole thing starts to feel like a Judd Apatow road movie. Talk of "facials" and humiliation fizzes around like beer in a can, followed by the obligatory "this reminds me of eating pussy" rejoinder, signifying nothing. My mouth, paralyzed by homosexuality, is barely moving anymore. That is, until we arrive.
"What's that you said about Tool fans, David?"
Outside Whole Foods, more than 100 catalog models for the Emotionally Disturbed Emporium (circa 1997) — braided beards, pink hair splotches, tattooed muffin tops, wallet chains — are baking themselves into the sidewalk in triple-file formation, some with umbrellas to protect their precious pallor, all missing something. Various mohawked "rock" staff from WJRR are posting radio station banners on storefront walls, while their van blares the angst staccato of perpetual disenfranchisement. Inside, hippies go about their standard business of digestive regularity. This, apparently, is a cultural schism.
"I didn't even wait this long to get into the Vatican museum," David experiences a moment of clarity. "So I'm not waiting here either."
Which is fine, because apparently Maynard would prefer to miss the fact that the only reason anybody would show up to sip his mother's grape blood would be to have their photo taken with their "Sober" hero, something he will not allow and a music career he will not acknowledge from his perch in front of the Whole Foods bathroom door. Maynard, as you might expect, is a tool.
On the way home, over sushi at Bikkuri Lounge — me still wearing my shoes — there's a rather righteous drunken sense that we didn't miss anything. We are complete. There is a calm. That is, until my phone rings.
"I guess I'll get my own dinner," Alan grumbles, then hangs up on me in that codependent manner meant to kick off a weekend of silent treatments.
"I've got to go," I pull myself back apart. I'm always missing firstname.lastname@example.org