Long gone are the days of Saturday mall mornings swirling in the fiber-optic electro symphony of tuneless bleeps that smelled like burning plastic, all set off by coffee mugs with penis handles at Spencer Gifts. The hair-too-long mistaken identity cases that led Burdines bitches at Swatch counters to lead this “pretty little girl” over to the humiliation of female-strapped sales pitches next to my own fucking mom. And, ah, the glory of the poster flipper at Specs Music, racing through the yellows to oranges to blacks of Nick Rhodes’ hair triptych with hasty flips of one slightly nervous hand. Everything felt like it was covered in pink urethane then, and I was coasting high above the suburban hit parade, heading nowhere and loving it.
Some time ago, though, something popped. And here I am.
“So, how many are with you?” event promoter Jeff Jones sneaks up in sympathy like some postapocalyptic stewardess gathering those who refused to die or move on.
“Just two,” I ooze humility and vodka.
And with that, Tony, Karen and I are huddled in a corridor in one of the hidden arteries of the new UCF Arena. I’m staring at the walls – probably crafted out of the shells of gopher tortoises and the poverty sweats of athletic fee–starved freshmen – and hoping for the best. Around the corner, my reluctant idols, Duran Duran, are still holding on as tightly as I am to a dream that’s already been awakened 16 times by fate pissing on it. Still, it was a good dream.
“This is the part in your dream where it all comes true!” Karen squeaks laryngitically. “You remember the dream. The one where Simon gets laryngitis and they pull you up on stage to finish ‘The Reflex’ and the whole tour!”
“But Simon’s not sick,” I reflexively shuffle my feet.
“I, however, am!” she puckers her lips into a petri dish. “You let me take care of this.”
About an hour of regretful “How did I get heres?” and glances at my unfortunate peers and it’s time to meet my makers. Again.
“What’s your name?” Simon Sharpies while avoiding eye contact.
“But you know my name!” I scream on the inside. “We’ve met a million times! Actually, it’s only been a few: once when I knocked over a cop and threw myself onto your lap in a limo in ’89, once when I busted in on your postshow dinner in South Beach in ’93, and again when I wrapped my entire torso around your jean-shorted body in Atlanta, also in ’93. Plus, I’ve haunted your dreams for all of eternity.”
“It’s Billy,” is all I actually say. Sigh.
“And it’s his birthday!” Tony chirps in four days too early.
“Well, OK then,” Simon Sharpies some more, squeezing out an abbreviated “Happy B-Day ’08” next to a giant picture of his head in my tour book. He’s so in love with me.
“You’re so much bigger in person!” Karen squawks, perhaps going in for the kill, but more likely offending him on the weight front. “But you, you look the same,” she turns to Roger. Ouch.
Tiny Nick ambles into the picture and at one point even stumbles into my almost-grasp. Our torsos, ladies and gentlemen, are finally touching, meaning our wonder twin powers have officially been activated. Form of: a bucket of pink Jell-O.
And then there’s John. John is peering quizzically through my semi-transparent sweater-like top and at the figure beneath it. “What’s that under your sweater?” he basically bathes me in sexual massage oils. Why, it’s my secret weapon, of course! I’m sporting my Hanoi Jane mug shot T-shirt in quiet homage to the Barbarella origins of the band’s namesake, mostly because I am very clever AND a little tragic. I smell like burning plastic.
“It’s Jane Fonda,” I nearly expose my pink Jell-O torso to the tallest Taylor. “Heh.”
“Oh,” is all I get, along with what seems to be a rolling of the eyes. So, at least in a way, John Taylor has just raped me. Which is precisely where this should all end.
Only it doesn’t. We’ve somehow achieved front-row-center status for the impending Duran Duran lighting extravaganza, and I must now wheel my spent carcass into yet another sensory overload chamber. For a minute, I think I’m the luckiest boy in the world; that is, until I realize how few people would still rally for this position.
The front row is sort of the short bus for the chromosomally challenged: that odd breed of girl who still calls herself a “Durannie” while maintaining a hooked nose and a lazy eye.
“When the show starts, we’re going to climb over and stand behind you if that’s OK,” cross-eyes one from the second row. “But we promise not to get in your way! Pinky-swear!”
My fear is that “pinky-swears” don’t quite carry the legally binding power that they used to once you’ve passed 35 and are able to obtain legal documents of your own. You can’t notarize a pinky-swear, can you?
Once the show kicks off – which is, arguably, amazing, but that’s beside the point – all bets are off, as the estrogen pool of hips and tears starts swaying and heaving in all of its unbearable glory. One blubbering fatty tumbles across four chairs, causing an unsightly domino effect of toppling bad-outfit choices, and it all ends on my shoulder.
“What exactly is the problem?” I stare into the lost eyes of the hooked-nose queen Durannie herself, in arms-up, tits-out ecstasy. She stares back for a minute, mustering all the cruelty her two brain cells can clank together, and then slowly lifts her middle finger right into my face.
“Oh, I get it,” my whole world pops again. I’m the firstname.lastname@example.org