"I figured it out!" comes the cigarette-weary radio voice of Savannah through my cellular tin can. "You know what we are? We're like, you know, if life were a pet shop, then we're …"
"Pet Shop Boys," I key up like a bathroom stall.
"I knew you were going to say that, that's why I paused," she pauses again. "If life were a pet shop, we're those poor rabbits who, when all of the rabbit cages are full, are thrown into the hamster cages, and we don't even fit! There's a wheel there and we can't even run on it!"
We've both been suffering concurrent breakdowns this week, and it's all rather embarrassing. Turns out that while I was scratching through the walls and Fun Spaces of my high school past via the scourge of social experiment Facebook, Savannah was doing the same, reliving her "ugly" days with the new realization that everybody who used to be pretty is ugly/fat/bald now and vice versa. It's like having a high school reunion on your lap all the time, except there's the unmistakable feeling that it's unnatural, forced, even dangerous. Friend invites feel like funeral announcements, your tagged prepubescent photos read like a collage on a tripod next to your coffin, and all this "Billy is …" nonsense is nothing but a digital epitaph. I've shared too much already. Maybe it is time to die.
Or at least get out of the house.
"What's your favorite book?" a glamorous mouth of a girl named Anna plops down stool-right at the Peacock Room.
"I don't …" I've run out of information.
"OK, who's your favorite author? What's your favorite restaurant? What's your favorite food?" The eHarmony list of surface questions rattles on without so much as a breath.
"I haven't had enough to drink," are the only words I can squeeze out of my tightening neck. "I don't know, all of the above."
Fortunately, this strip-mall watering hole for the mortgage set isn't tonight's actual destination; in fact, it was just supposed to be a warm-up for a situation intended to clamp down on my share (Cher?) hose and allow other people to wear their nail-pierced hearts on their hyper- creative sleeves.
Last time I came to the Orlando Museum of Art's 1st Thursday confab, I was a wine stain on the wall at a leopard-print singles party, gripping my life around my car keys. Nipped and tucked women with beauty marks wandered around to stand in front of pieces of art, as if to say, "Look, this is how I look when I feel like this!" as I shuddered, looked down, and then dissipated into a fine dust carried out of the room on wafts of tea-rose perfume.
This time the whole thing has gone hip! That is, if hip means that there's a DJ rattling the plastic cups of wine and that steaming heap of hairmeat Pat Greene is involved. The theme, because there has to be a theme, is "RS-21," or "The Research Studio in the 21st Century," and for those who keep themselves abreast of art mingles and their higher purposes, it's a celebration of the Maitland Art Center. Me, I'm just a drinker, so it's a bunch of misplaced bits approximating manicured insanity. Either way, it looks nice.
"I wasn't going to come, because I thought Billy Manes might be here," art gnome Rick Jones skulks his way up.
My eyes reflexively dart to the back of my head to keep the thoughts from reaching my mouth.
"Billy's not having a good time," copy queen Jessica plays diplomatic publicist.
"Yes I am!" my head explodes.
Well, sort of. Aforementioned hairmeat heap Pat Greene is doing some sort of conceptual performance piece in which he and his crew carry a high-top table around the room and force their conversations into a digital recorder while an older lady in the other room transcribes them in real time.
"What's the nastiest thing you've ever done?" Pat starts to pry me open. It works.
"You mean in the ass? Well, it's either my mom's vibrator or a hot dog."
Then, sure enough, it's on the screen in the other room. I've lost.
A few ill-advised glasses of wine later and the room is swirling around with too much externalization. A clothing designer named Kelledy has assembled a collection of cupcake-icing dressy dresses to throw on gaunt models who, in what can only be an expression of self-love, look exactly like her from the neck up as they're led in a line around the room. This is me! And me and me and me. Me!
There's a papier-mâché approximation of a bathtub or crib with Catholic iconography peeking through its white surface, and then there's the middle-aged woman next to it saying, "It reminds me of everything the essence of a bathtub should be." Right.
And then, at the center, there's some kind of shack with tubes on its walls so that onlookers can peek inside, kind of like a glory hole but in too many shapes and sizes to take in one shitting. Inside somebody is moving about, resembling nothing happening right now.
"But what does it do?" an apparent cheerleader to my right clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth.
"It installs?" I remove. And then I remove myself, clinging to whatever balance might remain.
It's not a lot. Back at the Peacock Room, I'm singing my life history because typing no longer works. Somewhere in the distance, a rabbit stares at a wheel and firstname.lastname@example.org