“There is no there there,” I Gertrude into Tony’s Stein.
“Where?” he wonders back. “What is the answer?”
“Wait, what is the question?”
We’re sipping the Kool-Aid from the standard Tuesday-night existential drip and fashioning ourselves into photographic negatives of men who aren’t men sitting on couches that aren’t couches when nothing finally hits me.
“I’ve got it!” I blurt after traversing the standard five-minute foot-worn path from anti-couch to anti-bowel and back again. “What are we doing tonight? Well, what aren’t we doing tonight?”
“Shit!” Tony narrates my digestive tract. “That’s genius.”
Or vice versa. Regardless, without so much as a collective reverse Wonder Woman spin into our respective fashion-free blobs of antimatter – antimatter with a splash of vodka, that is – we’re out the door and directionless, witlessly juxtaposing absence and presence with no logic whatsoever.
“With all due apologies, my presence is absent tonight,” I long-jaw.
“Me too!” etc.
The reason for all of the philosophical inversion on this invisible evening is relatively simple. Kathy Griffin is in town at the Bob Carr and due at any moment to say something redheadedly worthless about Nicole Kidman’s forehead or Britney Spears’ catbag. It’s the sort of queer conviviality convention to which I would expect numerous torn-edged invitations, possibly scripted in semen calligraphy squeezed from a pierced condom. But tonight there is no foul stench of cucumbers and bleach, there have been no noticeable rattles of my voice-text electromagnetic communicator, and there are, gulp, no tickets left. I, dear gays, do not even exist.
Of course, we’re (not) going anyway. As we approach the Bob Carr, among the shiny-topped office gals and their distressed-jean queer relief, a beacon of light beams from the marquee. Gordon Lightfoot’s coming in February, it informs us.
“Ah, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’” Tony’s ship sinks. “He’s not here either.”
If he could read my mind.
“Excuse me,” I tap on the will call window. “I’m here to pick up two tickets for Billy Manes from Orlando Weekly. I never got a confirmation, but I’m sure you have them.”
“I’m sorry,” the clerk’s eyes narrow. “Nothing here. But I do have these two tickets way in the very back for $63 each.”
Tony and I agree that we shouldn’t have to pay for presence and that absence is just fine anyway. Two office gals, who may or may not be the inversion of us, disagree and find us a scalper.
“You don’t want them?” they coo in unison. “C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
There is no fun. Walking back under the I-4 bridge, Tony spies some tangible evidence of anti-fun, or at least an anti-person.
“Look, it’s a weave!” Tony points up into the dark crevice/homeless home before staring down at his feet. “And wait, there’s more weave.”
Sad braids of time and vanity lie smeared and tattered across the cement like a blond and black poem of all that maybe once was but never will be again. “Well she’s certainly not here,” I long-jaw again. Sigh.
We decide to haunt the boulevard of broken dreams, or Orange Avenue, for more evidence of absence and find ourselves dropped into the formaldehyde deer-fur of the Lodge, a place that didn’t use to be here and one where nobody is now. Nobody except for us, or not us.
“So I had three hours of conscious dreaming last night where I was at a party going around to everyone and telling them, ‘Don’t worry, I’m already dead,’” Tony morphs into a deer head hanging on the wall, one with eyes that follow you around the room. “American Hardcore was on.”
Oh. We engage the lone bartendress in such varied topics as the marketing failure of Camel’s Snus and the likelihood of remnant sexual fluids on various bar surfaces, when in the middle of our nothing, my husband Alan phones in and offers us something. Not much, but something.
“Do you know where the term ‘redneck’ comes from?” he Snuses. “It’s from the West Virginia miners when they unified and wore red handkerchiefs around their necks.”
A drip of redneck semen falls from the ceiling like a pin drop just before a black-hole apocalypse, and Tony and I decide that if we’re not going anywhere or doing anything, we might as well not get on with it, then.
“Hey, look at me! I’m not standing outside the Go Lounge, not being offered heroin by a purple-haired street person and not saying no because I’m already on coke!” I window from the middle of Wall Street.
“Oooh, look at me! I’m not stumbling outside the Beacham Theater, not having just swallowed a whole bucket of Sex on the Beaches to chase back four and a half Mitsubishis!” Tony splashes against Tabu.
Oh, it’s all good fun, really – each of us not making out with spiky-haired Oi! boys outside Big Bang; not throwing up shepherd’s pie, pickled eggs and Guinness in the beer stink of Scruffy’s; not turning into fat girls with disco happy-hour tendencies chafing our thighs at Have a Nice Day Café – and we’ve officially done the opposite of anything.
“Where next?” Tony’s pupils don’t dilate.
“There,” I fidget. “Nowhere.”firstname.lastname@example.org