Is this the end? There are shrill, minor-key soundtrack descents swelling into odd question-mark crescendos just before commercial breaks; there are hair feathers and then there is hair loss; there are well-meaning friends lining up like angels — specifically Charlie's Angels — to echo publicist-carved epitaphs into the iconic stone visage currently lying on her side, in fetal position, as cameras search her face and doctors search her bottom. "She has a wicked sense of humor," Kate Jackson jaws and squints, while Alana Stewart — and who the fuck is Alana Stewart? — peers in past the gin blossoms of bloated Ryan O'Neal and the ankle shackles of his son — their son — Redmond, and the gauzy-lensed ghost of Jaclyn Smith hawks a line of table linens, all the way to the pitchy-voiced soul of what must be a postcard for late-'70s dreams unfulfilled. What, I pray, what is happening to my Farrah Fawcett?
Outside, a steady stream of rain calls me away, out into the Sunday-night streets of forgotten dreams and broken bottles and piss. Farrah wouldn't want to see me this way. I'll do my crying in the rain, etc.
Thankfully, prior to my vicarious bout with anal cancer, I cracked a plan for the evening into my typically fragile agenda. To wrap up the weekend of minor rock explosions in the ever-fading echo chamber of rock festival bravado — no worries, it's too loud, I'm too old — someone bought a time ribbon dated 1997 (the year of Farrah's last Playboy video, natch) and tied it around my neck like the most elegant noose ever. A bunch of people who used to be rock people in Orlando back when Orlando put the A&R in laryngitis are aiming to coalesce into a nostalgia tear puddle at the Lodge. Would I be there? Well, of course I would. Cough.
"You look great," purrs New York émigré and former goddess of the Sapphire Supper Club Shayni Cowen. Truth is, the raven middle-part mistress looks exactly the same as she ever did, like a little piece of delicious hard candy I've kept in my rock drawer next to some merch-booth bits and bobs of "makin' it" sincerity from when I used to hear guitars in my sleep. She's since gone on to become a rock wife to nasal melody maker Kevn Kinney, eye still on the prize, while I've become this drunken old whore with a self-pickling hobby.
"You are amazing!" I coo, for no apparent reason.
Tonight's festivities center around a performance from local pickin', grinnin', sinnin' cowboy of Hinduism Joseph Martens and his old pal, drivin', cryin' Kinney. From all appearances — and appearances are everything at the Lodge, just ask the wall-hung taxidermy victims — it's going to be a front-porch-with-Christmas-lights-up-on-it kind of shindig, full of marshaled tuckers and freed birds; a Southern rock bonanza for the yearing-impaired.
Ah, forget it. This is really just about a bunch of old friends getting together and getting drunk in the most genuine manner possible, in the dark so our laugh lines don't creep out. And it's already starting.
"Let me buy you a drink," is how it begins, when rock God Jeff Nolan pushes away my wallet. OK! Behind Nolan and his brutally gorgeous wife Erin, of the Little Debbies, the entire roster of This Is Your Life: The Billy Manes When He Gave a Damn Edition starts filing in. There's Barrie, from the old Yab Yum days; William Waldren, who used to make out with me but now has a wife and baby; Sam, from the body shots at the old Bar-BQ-Bar; and everybody else who's seen Jim Faherty naked. Oh, he's here too, and from the gauzy-lensed look on his in-person face, his liver is going to need a sidecar at some point. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my St. Elmo's Fire moment.
"Remember Skotty?" I drip a tear into my cocktail while leaning in to Shayni. She does. We all do, but now's not the time for crying.
Leena — who used to work with Barrie, but now does something or other for the CityArts Factory — snaps me back to the present by introducing me to her niece, who has just been accepted into NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, meaning she's precocious and totally wants an act-off with me, because I should be in Glee and she shouldn't.
"You know, I used to be in musical theater," my mouth moves around the obvious. "I could probably teach you a few things," and "fuck," and "fuck" and "fuck" comes out after, from both her and me. There's something about being faced with young optimism that riles my inner Cristal Connors. If there were stairs here, there would also be pearls.
"Well, good luck to you," and fuck, and fuck, and fuck.
Over in front of the stage, I take my position at a high-top with Erin Nolan. Thomas Wynn, he of the recent Weekly cover about music and, um, divorce, pulls up a chair and is introduced to me by some guy named Ron who is with the band, and in A&R, and "no last names, please."
"Hey, Thomas," I lean in to make him uncomfortable. "Wanna fuck?"
"No you didn't!" Erin's face seems to say, followed by a mouthed "Did you just ask him if he wants to fuck?"
"Bitch, you're about to knock me off of this stool!"
I'm about to get even worse. But then, so is everybody. By the time Martens and Kinney are at full throttle -— whiskey-bent and hell-bound, so to speak — I've done two shots, Faherty's shirt is off and we're all dancing up in front of the stage. In short, it's a tragedy.
"Hey, Kevn," I grab Kinney's arm between songs. "Can you just go ahead and play ‘Straight to Hell' so we can all just get wherever it is we belong?"
He does, the world disintegrates into a beer cloud, and off to the underworld I go, just like my momma sa-a-aid, only this time with Farrah. My Farrah. This is the end.