What if it had never happened at all? What if a slightly less mucus-drenched take on Jabba the Hutt was never able to land his blimp-like personality square inside the Orlando consciousness to corporatize pedophilia? What if one giant blob hadn't pulled the International Male mesh over the eyes of the whole world, and pinpointed our weakest link — the drivel of teenage girls in a pre-menstruation furor (read: gay men) — so that music industry forces, private investors and local government powers alike forgot about their noses, much less their wallets?
Would I ever have known the joy of getting wasted on a Windermere paddleboat, with Justin Timberlake flying by in a wetsuit on a Sea-Doo? Would I ever have sniffed cocaine with A.J. McLean in a BMW while he blared (and sang along to) his own music? Would I ever have heard that Joey Fatone's penis was so big that he passed out when he got an erection, and then found out the truth while peeing next to him at the Hard Rock Hotel (it ain't that big)? Would I ever have been sequestered in a tiny Disney hotel room with Aaron Carter just before his voice changed? Would any of this be legal? Ah, the questions!
"I don't even know who Aaron Carter is," grumbles an older man whose unsexy back is pressed to my front.
"Oh, he was the only one of the Backstreet Boys to be so successful that his solo records went platinum," queens his companion, whose own unsexy back is pressed against his front.
Lies, sweat and ridiculousness are hovering overhead as editor Bob and I huddle with about 200 other pecking carrion birds inside Big Poppa Pearlman's office for what Bob's calling the "Orlando event of the century": the estate auction of Pearlman's Trans Continental headquarters for the sake of recouping some of that missing Ponzi $200 million. And I'm trying to keep my cool. This is, after all, a momentous occasion in Orlando history — or at least the media cameras bopping my head would have you believe so — and I want to take it all in, one odor at a time.
At 11:15 a.m., the first drop of sweat rolls lovingly down my back. I am not happy. In fact, nobody is. The cramped proceedings were supposed to begin at 11 sharp, and something about the swirl of perspiration, money and useless plastic items with nubile boys on them is bringing out the auction-day worst in the gruff professional-bidding types.
"Is this thing starting!" screams one to precisely no one. "It was advertised at 11! This is illegal!"
And that's not all that's illegal. We bump into one the local lawyers for "the boys," who — while obviously at a pecuniary loss — is dryly joking that while touring the mammoth spaces of the Church Street complex, he came across one of his own lawsuits.
"Well, you could probably take it for posterity," Bob smirks.
"Oh, I've already got a copy," the lawyer smugs.
Worse still, while perusing the wasteland ourselves yesterday for things to bid on sarcastically (hello, Church Street snow globe!) and taking turns using Pearlman's bathroom, we stumbled upon discarded heaps of the following: modeling-agency paperwork complete with credit card, Social Security and drivers license numbers of ugly people or their ugly parents; head shots and demos from "musicians" in the second grade; computers with photos of children still taped to their monitors; and every other possible relic of manipulative tragedy imaginable. Everything, literally, for sale.
It's almost too much to stomach, so as the auction finally begins, I revert to my former paddleboat self and attempt to rub up against a super-hot passing security guard just one earring shy of his own No. 17 single on the German pop charts.
"I brushed his nipple!" I coo over Bob's head, or between his legs.
"Er," he stammers, eyeing his lot list and looking at the clock on his cell phone.
That will be my only brush with joy today. Ten minutes, three figurines and two signed Orlando Predators (geddit?) footballs in, there's already a problem. Somebody — namely that asshole from before — has complained to the trustees that he will not stand for how things are going in the cramped room and demands that the whole thing be relocated to the atrium. That effort grows another 15 minutes of shuffling feet and passing stenches onto the affair, which — added to the fact that most of these people have never been to an auction — means that after an hour, only 20 lots out of the thousand or so have even been broached, not one of them selling for a sensible or even forgivable price. A ceramic cow for $40? Who are these people?
Well, let's see: There's the legless woman in the wheelchair inexplicably out for her piece of the pie, some angry-looking golfer types bidding on everything that angles on sports or office supplies, the red-faced fat pile of hypertension taking issue with everybody and everything involving the PA system, some former boy-band wannabes, stage moms, screaming fat kids and a Mulvaney. In short, a dirty mirror to the real Orlando: Lou's people.
"Let's go," Bob grinds his teeth at precisely 12:07 p.m. "This isn't happening."
If only it had never happened at firstname.lastname@example.org