Somebody punch me. This can't be real.
"Congratulations!" Savannah piles over my dogs and into my breakdown bungalow. "You're the best!"
Ah, it's that time of the year again, when egos and organizations bloat in the wake of near-illegible scribblings and careless mouse-clicks, all culminating in some kind of superlative bombast destined to manifest in a party. At said party, said egos and organizations will mingle among the germs of the Weekly staff — itself rendered guard-down and ass-grabby by a series of potent potables provided free of charge — and create the sort of mess that might or might not have brought down the Roman Empire. We've got it down to a science: Build it up, then mercilessly knock it down.
"No, you're the best," etc.
Every previous year's Best of Orlando party has been a mess of sausage gurgling around sweatily in a tight nightclub casing, picking bones and drying out kegs to wet, bitter end. I end up talking and perspiring in equal measures, and brewing up the sort of regret peculiar to Friday-morning hangovers at the office. This year, however, the soiree has relocated to the spacious Firestone building, the grind-tooth palace of my personal drug history. And this year I have a plan.
"I have a plan," I repeat myself, only this time out loud. "Let's say we just flit around for a bit and find all of the worst people imaginable. Then we walk up to them and say, ‘You're the best!' as convincingly as possible, thus allowing ourselves the elusive double-edged sword of sarcasm and magnanimity!"
"OK," Savannah stares at me blankly. "Let's do it."
And do it we do, at least for the first five minutes. There's the girl in the black shoes with clear stiletto heels — are they stripper plastic or Neiman glass? We poke her and giggle but she does not respond. She's the best! Next up, there's the … the … the … what's this?
"Well, hello!" booms a sports coat over a golf shirt.
It's fucking Scott Maxwell!!! Cue dreamy swirls of strings, smoke machine and fuzzy lens haze. The meaning of life has arrived!
"Are you here to inquire about our 17 imaginary children?" I flick my eyelashes. "Or are you here just to get with me?"
"What do the children look like?" he plays along, inexplicably. "Do they have salt-&-pepper hair?"
"They look like YOU!" I blither, again inexplicably. "I keep them on a series of shelves, and on certain days — rainy days, if you will — I pull them down to the floor and jump up and down among them."
Oh, indeed. I pull Savannah aside to inform her that there has indeed been a change in plans. The new game is to see which of us can procure a nasty moment with the midsection of he who Takes Names.
"Wonder-twin powers," I fist. "Activate."
Within a few moments it's clear that she's winning. Actually, it's clear that he's just an upstanding hetero(ish)sexual, married man who happens not to be embarrassed to be seen with us, and that maybe "us" is a lot to handle. To make matters worse, he shows us pictures of his — not our— kids. Where does one buy a Scott Maxwell? Is there a factory? What do they put in the Sentinel water?
Clearly not the same thing that they put in the Weekly water, as that would be either Grey Goose or Pabst. Jeff Billman (in a tie!) insists upon mussing my hair out of "best writer" jealousy (ha!), Ian the web guy insists upon gagging me with a shot of whiskey, classified bear Brian Martin insists upon a knee-bound pony ride with my scrotum, and editor Bob Whitby insists upon nearly losing his hand 16 times whilst grabbing my posterior love hole with his wife watching. More of the same, then. That is, until Kent the intern decides to let me know at least twice that my looks have "hardened" since my Photoshopped run for mayor, this while assuring me that I'm his wit idol. He's beating me at my own game!
I am the best.
Savannah and I eventually settle in the outside "smokers' lounge" next to a garbage can ("white," she points at her head, "trash," she points at the can) and set to surveying the crowd.
"Let's see," I see. "We have media, belly dancers, roller-derby girls, lawyers, the ghost of George Crossley, artists, musicians, hipsters, activists, small business folk and Desperate Housewives. What's that demo?"
At which point, Savannah accidentally trips and almost falls into the garbage can, thus merging white and trash into the very same receptacle. We're not very good at surveying. What we are good at is leaving; usually, anyway.
Back inside, calendar girl Amber insists upon introducing me to some cute guy who "really wants to meet me, but is really embarrassed." He goes on to detail his affections at a nervous pitch, showing me with shaky hands how he rips the rest of the paper off my column every week (the rest sucks, apparently), while pointing out that he just knew when he met me he would totally fart.
"I just farted a little," he toots.
"Me too!" I blowhole.
And with that I'm out. Almost literally, even. Back at home, being the drunken housewife that I am, I decide to lean into a sleeping Alan and plant a vodka kiss on his cheek, basically because I'm the best. In loving, Xanax-sleep-of-death response, Alan wheels around with a look of horror on his face and plants one right on my cheek. Not a kiss. A fist.
That's right, he punched me in his sleep. I am the email@example.com