There would be no outrageous rose bouquets, no heart-shaped chocolate smears on candlelit walls and no gloved hands shoving diamonds into my sexual core this Valentine’s Day – just the sterile romance of cellphoned apologies from the traveling husband and a phallic frozen burrito to cram in my lonely mouth, thank you very much. I could cry, but what would be the point if nobody’s watching? I could fellate my burrito, but … oh wait, I just did.
I need a date. But because all of the potential dates tonight already have dates, or unexpected prescription drug interactions, or cousins who just got in car crashes, this is going to take some pathetic ingenuity. Fortunately, there’s a huge heap of pathetic out there tonight and I’m like a fly when there’s shit involved.
“I’m Billy Manes and I’m on the guest list,” I buzz past a horse to the front of a 10-gallon, eight-second queue.
“Where’s your guest?” a doorlady judges.
“My guest is dead,” I crazy-eye. “To me, that is.”
Not dead anymore, though, is Church Street’s Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House, cheese-legend Bob Snow’s heavily themed ’80s homage to spittoon simplicity and redneck bellies with giant belt-buckles cutting into them. Tonight is their VIP grand reopening, meaning that Orlando’s moneyed crust can unleash their inner cowpokes under the dress-up guise of downtown renaissance.
To achieve the desired effect of booted boosterism, the place has been loaded with heavy hitters, event photographers and journalists all swirling around with, well, losers. Over here are a couple of sequined twins who might or might not be illegitimate sisters of Loretta Lynn, over there is somebody called “The Original Red Hot Mama,” interspersed are glorified Hooters waitresses in their best approximation of “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” Cher leather tassel-wraps. There’s barbecue everywhere, and pork grease is lubricating every hollered conversation about how it used to be and how it’s gonna be again. I’m having an anxiety attack.
“Just breeeeeeeaaathe,” a girl singer with perplexingly white teeth Faiths my Hill.
I can’t. So in order to placate my suffocating sore-thumbedness, I devise a plan. If Orlando can look to its middlebrow for solutions to its economic woes, then surely I can whore myself around in a glorified speed-dating bout with the movers and shakers that comprise our very own fiscal earthquake, right? Neither makes sense, but sense is overrated.
“You fit in so well,” Mayor Buddy Dyer saunters over to try to get with me in … wait for it … a black cowboy hat, a black leather vest, black jeans and black cowboy boots. Omigod, they’re bringing back the Full Moon Saloon?
“So do you,” I twitch my eye in a gay, fluttering fashion. “Why aren’t you line-dancing?”
“The funny thing is I know some of those moves,” he fingers his hat rather sexily. “I picked it up in Houston in the ’80s.” Stop!
“Y’all know we’re building a performing arts center, right?” he prods me. “Last time I read, it seemed like y’all didn’t think we were.”
This date is over. My name is not “y’all,” it’s Susan. I no perform for you.
Next up is commissioner Robert Stuart, who is sporting a regular-guy suit and doesn’t really want to talk to me in light of my twitchy typing fingers. He’s tall, reasonably hot and a total do-gooder who is right with God. Hold me. Some story follows about gay innuendo that he forbids me to mention in no uncertain terms.
“If you write any of this,” he makes my legs quake, “I will hunt you down!”
Call me! Upstairs on the third floor, super-hot power attorney Clay Townsend beckons me over and introduces me to his wife as “the meanest writer in town.” The wife bit doesn’t faze me, because it’s happened before, but his motivations for taking down pop’s martyr mistress in the interest of one Johnny Wright are more than a little troubling.
“I’m suing Britney,” he breaks my heart before it’s had a chance to mend. What? Then he tries to tell me how to write my column, inserting his own perfunctory “Brokeback Saloon” joke two years and one dead actor too late. Zing! I mean, ding!
Oh, wait! There’s Lawson Lamar in an MBI-funded cowboy hat! Next!
Next, indeed. Entering the fray late are bipartisan power couple John Morgan and Florida Sen. Lee Constantine. I smell a three-way, but first I’ll have to insert my fingers.
“Mr. Morgan,” I curtsy. “You don’t know me but I think we share a lot of … ideas … about stuff and things.”
He shakes my fingers, as does old Lee, who is totally, like, hot-drunk-dad fuckable.
“I don’t usually hang out with Republicans,” says Morgan, who is for the people but not those people. Constantine hot-drunk-dads a dismissive arm motion.
“That’s OK, my husband’s a Republican,” I flash a ring.
“So’s my wife.”
That’s one too many parties for a reach-around, so it’s off to lovable weather guy Danny Treanor, who is looking into retiring in Belize. Why? “Because English is the first language there.” He goes on to boast of his membership in the “self-importance club,” like me, but then introduces his nervous, hot son and briskly moves away. This isn’t working out for me.
Or is it? Defeated, I head outside alone into the cold-hearted night and stare off past the glory that is Lonestar’s airbrushed tour bus for an answer. And there it is. In Buddy Dyer’s rear-left pocket are two yellow gloves (top!). I wonder if one of them has diamonds in email@example.com