Arts & Culture » Blister

BLISTER

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;"I guess this is the part where I ask you," I tilt my head shyly towards my bent knees. "Will you marry me?"

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;;"I guess this is the part where you bring out the tinfoil ring," Jessica plays freezer-friendly.

;;It's a gorgeous Thursday night and we are just initiating the melodrama that is set to roll out before us at the Fringe Festival kick-off gala. Like most of the Fringe shows themselves, we're making do with a reasonable facsimile of something sincere — we're in a parking-lot pedicab, not a horse-drawn carriage — and we're feeding our relative insignificance with pretentious conversation and a pretend proposal. The fact that it's warm outside could at any moment send us into soaked-brow professions that we're totally on death's bed, and that we don't want to go on. Drama, my dearest friends, is in the air.

;;So is androgyny. At the check-in line, something resembling a woman in a leopard-print fuzzy situation is stammering and stalling right in front of us while a drum corps pounds out a deafening rhythm to match this apparent drag queen dénouement. When asked for her guest-list name, she offers a deep, clipped "Julianna." Any attempts at retrieving a last name by the clipboarded attendant are met with dewy consternation. Jessica suggests a Victor/Victoria joke, and decides to refer to it as Julian. I just bite my lip and wait for it to realize that it's a performer and not meant to be "here" but "over there." Whatever the case, it's a bitch.

;;I'm so lost in Julianna's personal meltdown that I don't even realize that I've entered the party and that, yes, commissioner Patty Sheehan is darting across the room to greet me. Nothing snaps you out of yourself like a little slap of Patty.

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;"I'm down on one knee for you," she indeed is, instantly. "I know you prefer two, but one will have to do."

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;"I can work with one," is all I can muster, now in the middle of my own meltdown at the collision of oral sex and marriage metaphors … with a lesbian. I swear to God I'm dying.

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;Or already dead. Last year, when I attended this very same party in this very same domed room, I was in the middle of my post-partum, post-political sinus infection, ruing my very existence beneath the vertigo-inspiring roundness of this forever-descending ceiling.

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;This year, nose clear, I'm still just as mortified.

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;"I feel like I'm in a mausoleum," I sniff formaldehyde, or whatever sort of decaying lettuce is emanating through the room. "With bad art."

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;"What time's the viewing?" Jessica slits my jugular, 6 feet under.

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;I wish it was now, then maybe I could just get out of here and back underground. A keyboardist sits in the middle of the mess, dumbing down several tracks from Prince's "Purple Rain" to a sexless '80s prom.

;;And then something terrible happens. No sooner am I talking to former Weekly editor Jeff Truesdell ("I knew you when you were nothing!") about, well, nothing, when a vaguely familiar matron enters the fray sporting a prom dress and two arms held directly perpendicular to her slight frame.

;;"Oh my God! Last time I talked to you, it must have been three years ago," she tries to jog my memory, but fails. "We were comparing wrist scars!"

;;WHAT! There are several rules of polite conversation, most of which I don't even know or utilize, but to approach a near-stranger in the already-awkward mingle position with a morbid factoid probably produced in a narcotic stupor just isn't cool. Frankly, I'm repulsed, like Emily Post at plastic silverware.

;;So we compare scars, she talks about her medication and everybody in the periphery pretends that discussion of wrist scars with suicide smiles is commonplace, de rigueur. Jessica and I acquire collective social hives and quickly exit the room.

;;Outside, a parade is forming and I'm trying to recover. Or die. Michael Wanzie breezes by, mouthing something about recording me for a "podcast," but all I hear is the blood in my wrists. I run into my old lesbo-a-go-go twin (with a more salacious wardrobe), Blue, and we take a quick meeting to decide on our professional futures.

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;"We should throw parties and pass out!" we wheeze in unison.

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;We already do. Jessica and I decide to leave the party and get out, but not before somebody named Wilson with gauze wrapped around his face approaches with a Fringe sales pitch. "You should come to my show. It's mime and dancing, and I talk a little about what's going on in the world today." Mimes, clearly, should not talk.

;;And we, clearly, need to get out of here. Patty's set up a birthday party for my friend Jason over at Lava, and it loosely involves the depressing finale of Will & Grace being projected on a cement wall (cue "You're My Best Friend" by Queen), which doesn't sound like any fun at all. At some point, Jason tells Jessica that she looks like a cuter Sandra Bullock and she tells him that he looks like a cuter Carson Daly, and they decide they need to make a movie called Drag Bus 3.

;;"You mean Speed?" I Keanu.

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;Shortly thereafter, Jessica and I go back to her place to watch ABBA divorce on an Ovation documentary. How dramatic. We'll never marry.

; billymanes@yahoo.com

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