It's been a long life of mixing the brights with the whites in the agitating tub of self-consciousness. For every calamity bonfire of plane crashes, broken hearts and dopamine-rushed cerebral manipulations, there exists the vacuum of silent doubt, thrice-crushed disappointment and an inability to extricate my bony ass from the potting soil of self-imposed isolation. All of which seems tragic until I realize that I've just piled up metaphors involving Borax, floor-cleaning and gardening and called them my life. It's like I've mixed sunshine and water and ended up a dull yellow, a mess of meaningless understimulation, a dirty Dream Kitchen. When did I turn into my mother?
"Are we having a pre-concert porch party at your house?" comes a text from David.
Oh, just then. This is what happens when it feels like everything has been done, when all the sharp edges of this overthrown life-stone have been eroded away, leaving something you're more likely to slip on than be impaled by. You pour a drink, you watch the fight.
"Sure," goes my meager text reply, all hard consonants removed for the sake of safety.
What follows is the necessary dawdling of feigned purpose — a quick wipe of the counters, some bleach on the toilet, a futile scrape at the beard-speckled toothpaste clumps in the sink — and then some leisure simulation involving vodka, a pain pill and a subdued surround-sound atmosphere of the nostalgic variety that somehow still seems hip and modern, if only because it's the new Depeche Mode and it's not even out yet. This isn't my mother's Black Celebration. Oh, who the fuck am I kidding?
Then it hits me. Maybe I can forgo this whole sullen slide down the mucus-lined cliff of ignominy with a completely tasteless fashion choice! Toss aside the black-on-black uniform of "going out," crack the politely humble face of 30-something acquiescence and turn myself into a complete jackass who might put out a bowl for everybody's keys and not accidentally leave his fly down in the interest of frisky pubic intrusion. I reach deep in the closet for my amazing Technicolor dreamcoat — yellow pleather, natch — and start deciding which underwear I won't be wearing tonight. I've got a plan, see, and it involves a lot of purposeful winking and dropping things.
There will be lube.
But as my guests start to arrive two by two, like some kind of Noah's Ark plank procession, only devoid of procreative intentions, so does my misanthropy deflate. There's healthy power couple David and Susan and their water bottles; cute sisters Amanda and Kim and their controlled cosmopolitan giggles; Justin and his wife Thao and their introverted sweetness; and Brandon and Amy, who are a "fun" couple but not the kind of fun that breaks glass on the way to copulation. Only Colin arrives alone, and that's just because his wife is at home with their baby. Nobody is in on my Anniversary Party sextasy joke, nor would they want to be.
"Sorry about the new Depeche Mode," I try a wink that looks more like an eyelash hazard.
"That's OK," Brandon smiles between well-kept sideburns. "I'm a recovering goth."
Small talk ahoy, then, as we all gather our stable wits — but for my quickly graying wild hair — and prepare for our exodus down to Firestone for a concert from band-of-the-moment Cut Copy. Once there, the overstimulated ebullience of bratty openers Matt and Kim momentarily shakes the lugu- off my -brious by pulling Up With People! faces while walking across the audience like water that could be turned into wine.
"Hey, didn't you know Frances Milstead?" forever-bartender Billy of the Cocktail choreography set leans in to ask me about Divine's deceased mom.
"Yes, and I know she's dead." Ugh.
By the time Cut Copy take the stage with their neon-lit take on all things New Order new again, I'm back up there in the bounce of musical escapism, pushing the corners of my mouth apart to reveal a smile. But then the thought of New Order's own "Temptation" and its "please don't let me hit the ground" refrain remind me of when this music used to mean something more jagged — so jagged, in fact, that during my first week of college it inspired a brand new rite-of-passage friend to take LSD and jump five stories off of a parking garage to his splatter-death. Now, that same flavor of strum-and-beat just has the overweight girl in the corner of my right eye self-consciously dancing with her hand in that "Progressive '80s Nite!" kind of way. David, the empathetic face-reader that he is, catches my jaw-clench and approaches with a way out.
"IHOP?" he pancakes with strawberries.
Once at the aforementioned lard emporium, our overstuffed booth starts emitting all sorts of witty remarkery for all to hear, overlapping spurts of monologue that when heard by our graveyard-shift waitress can only sound like one unison "We're drunk assholes."
Taylor, who joined our crew late in the game, attempts a textual salvage of my world-gone-wrong when he under-the-table messages me some liquor-fingered missives about one of my friends.
"I love Justin!" comes one, followed by "Tall-y look my waaaay" (as opposed to "shorty," geddit?) and then, alas, "and a hand job!" It's a litany of nonsense that adds up to no good, but it's appreciated nonetheless. Tonight, it turns out, is not that kind of no-good night.
So when my plate arrives, angrily slid in front of me, I'm not confused about what it has to tell me. There, atop two wobbly stacks of English muffins, Canadian bacon and poached eggs, a slather of sauce that in no way approximates the face of Jesus — but in some way matches my jacket and my life — starts to coagulate.
Not surprisingly, it's a dull, yellow mess of meaninglessness. Also not surprisingly, I do not eat firstname.lastname@example.org