"He's mine!" swishes my dear old friend Colleen, splashing up to the I-Bar corner of Jefferson and Orange after a few select elixirs on Hard Rocks. "You can't havvvve him."
"Whatever, Colleen," I squeeze my bitchy-cheerleader-in-a-locker-room lips into the shape of an angry vagina. "I've already had him."
Frankly, I'm crushed, and not in a way that would imply singular disappointment or a Dumpster. No, I, like Colleen, am still waving the teenage freak flag of an overstated music-industry romantic obsession. Nineties sweat-ring Greg Dulli is back in town with his Twilight Singers, and like a couple of blind ants heading for seconds at the D-Con, Slur-leen and I are forgoing our standard Monday-night 30s for another crack at hero worship bent over at the altar of the Social stage. Crushes, I've had a few.
Clearly, Colleen and I are not on the same team — I had heard ahead of time that she would be here as clitoral competition — so she grabs her friend and heads in without me. Which is only funny because my head is without me (and even that isn't funny).
Actually, I'm not sure why I'm here. Dulli's caricatured bloat has long since traveled the harsh downward projectile from swarthy to sad, stopping only momentarily at relevant (but not really). Back in college I even made fun of the dirty-haired indie boys who swooned at the nonsense of Afghan Whigs covering TLC's "Creep." When Twilight Singers atmospherically emerged from the wreckage of a flannel nightmare, I snorted a vial of ketamine and allowed the sexual howl of the Dulli to permeate the numbness of my legs. And I've been walking on him ever since, forcing him into awkward (and illegal … in most states) interview situations whenever it seemed to suit my career. At best, Greg Dulli is a hard habit to break.
Anyway, tonight I'm plus-one joined by the Weekly's distribution beefcake, John Prinzo, in large part because my two other invited friends who might enjoy this excursion are apparently bigger fans of that new fad "cancellation" than the howls of an economy-sized tub of mayonnaise. Prinzo's fun, though. You'd fuck him.
"Have you heard the new Mark Lanegan record?" he Jordan Catalanos.
He's also an irony-free, music-loving straight person. Basically, he's my beard with a beard.
Inside, the aged heterosexuality is virtually impenetrable: Variations on Adam Duritz and Juliana Hatfield move in exaggerated slow motion, disaffected pouts hanging from their droopy faces, while spotty patches of frat boys teeter on their date-rape crossovers. Ah, to dream. On stage, the lead singer of Stars of Track and Field is appearing generally crushworthy (but for his Spandau kerchief) while popping his mouth over the microphone for sound check purposes. Neck drapery makes me uncomfortable.
Colleen, who dripped to Orlando from Tallahassee about the same time I did back in '97, is warming up the back bar (nearest the dressing room) with fits of cocktail giggles. In reality, she's as sweet and pure as the candy-coated snow, and — perhaps competitively — I let her know that.
"Really?" she Seminoles. "Most people say I'm a C-U-N-T." (She actually spells it; that's how sweet she is.)
The cunt then introduces me to some Seminoled guy — who I probably should know but don't — visiting from Tampa for just this Twilight occasion. Conversation that probably should be interesting (but isn't) follows, and my eyes wander here, there and to the back of my own head. On one such darting, I spot the Weekly's own Chairman Bao and Will of the Walkers consorting in the corner, or not saying anything really.
"That kerchief summons my inner redneck," I intrude on their silent exchange. "I'm all like, ‘Wuddup with the kerchief, faggot!'"
Whatever. What I'm here for is the reflexive Dulli encounter, so Colleen and I assume our stalker positions on his path to the stage. An employee informs me that Dulli himself has already uttered the words "Billy Manes," presumably with an eye-roll, upon spotting my name on the guest list. Another girl in the vicinity, who maintained online vaginal relations with Dulli after his last visit, beams in to tell me that he totally remembers me.
"He said, ‘The blond guy? The one who offered me coke on the bus?'" she snorts, obviously unaware of the fact that coke and I broke up years ago, and that I have no memory of ever, EVER being on a bus.
When he does come out and breeze by me, his left eye catches my right eye for a split second, and with a toxic breath concocted of fear and recognition, he spews forth, "Billllly."
I win! But not really. Through the process of the show, I gradually deflate, unconcerned by any of the noteless howls and date-rape conviviality colliding before my eyes. I stare long and hard at Dulli — who appears to have gone from unlikely rock god to unlikable apartment manager, gravity pulling his features to a sallow cruelty — and beg for an answer, only momentarily distracted by the occasional, pained Screaming Mark Lanegan cameo. Jim Faherty, tipsy beyond recognition, grabs on to me with a shot in his hand directed at my mouth, beyond speech, and everything feels like a brain-'n'-liquor wash meant to be forgotten.
After the show, I grab Colleen and wheel her wobble to the tour bus with one last hope of something, anything, to justify my adoration. The touring guitarist, Dave Rosser, arrives, and I give him my card to give to Dulli, certain he'll pull his paunch out for a quick hello. But opportunity dies when a full-on traveling fan — the kind with bangs and a mullet — decides to sidetrack Rosser with insistent discussions of tour occurrences in Tel Aviv and Rhode Island, things I could never care about, especially not through bangs. Israel is not involved in my habit.
"You still want him?" I pout at Colleen as I turn, tail-tucked, to walk away. "He's yours."firstname.lastname@example.org