I hate to admit this, but I'm a lying drunk a flip placebo purveyor in a world of actual science. I am, my friends, the veritable flatline shooting through all that truly matters.
I know this, because of a lesson (not) learned in both the seventh and eighth grade science fairs the prepubescent prime of my unsubtle manipulation wherein I enacted (or rather, did not enact) for two cruel years the exact same torture on a helpless species of crab spiders in an effort to show that their wayward webs were very important signs of inebriation employing sugar, Jack Daniels and NoDoz as means to my predictable ends.
The spiders died.
But I lived on to win first place in two separate county geekfests by simply sketching what I guessed might be the webbed reactions of my poor collection of arachnids. It wasn't too much of a guess, either. I just pretended my hands were two of eight, and swigged back whiskey and popped pills myself, sketching Escher-lite into construction-paper circles and charming the pants off of people who wore a lot of polyester. "Drunk" equals wobbly and slow. "High" equals manic and jagged. Maybe I didn't cheat, after all. Maybe I'm just awesome. Or, maybe I'm dead, too.
So imagine my ignorant bliss at the prospect of getting drunk amidst the glory of science all over again! The flashbacks are unbearable they always are but the pure Hawking qualitative charm of an Orlando Science Center escapade is more than enough to chase that measly dragon away. Especially with a couple of drinks and a "singles" motif to lubricate the method. Stellar.
"Cocktails and the Cosmos," they're calling it. And from minute one, it's a circus of multistoried proportions, shiny and 40-something with splashy drinks served in splashless plastic cups. I've manipulated my friend Roy into my hypothesis that this might be fun, even dirty.
"There are lots of dark places in there," winked my editor Lindy, who clued me in to this particular abnormality event.
There are dark places everywhere.
Actually, it's a genius affair, give or take a Scott or an Erika. In a town full of do-nothing bars, it's nice to regress to 12-year-old concern about effect over process. Faces made for radio (Mix 105's Scott and Erika, obviously) fish for trivia fodder about actors' names on Days of Our Lives, single-handedly dumbing down a demographic.
While I watch Days when my blood sugar is low (probably because I'm dumb, too), the names of the actors escape me, like so many over-sped credits ending shows that should probably never have happened. Evil Marleena. Really?
But the sheer size of the Orlando Science Center, and that glorious skywalk monstrosity connecting it to the parking lot, lend the event an air of fabulosity, in spite of itself.
I could really have fun here. Especially if I get drunk.
"What planet are you?" needles some matronly blowout while I patiently wait for my elixir.
Roy and I are beside ourselves like a couple of tiny Asian girls, thinking we're clever for the "Uranus" marquees bleeping in our heads. "Uh, I don't have a planet." I almost reveal that I'm a Gemini, and that no, I don't come here often. You know, for singles' sake.
Then she opens up a folded piece of paper, with, you guessed it, "Uranus" written across it. Science is weird.
"You're supposed to get a planet when you walk in the door!" she slurs. "It's supposed to help you find your ideal mate!"
And here I'm puzzled by thoughts of an alternate gay universe, where all of the planets are pink and named Uranus, and a singles party where the Barenaked Ladies is not the soundtrack of choice.
Is that so wrong?
Maybe. But altogether more wrong is our errant behavior as we enter an oversized, walk-through digestive system. We're stuck in the throat, see, because the nose is too high up. And we think we're very clever.
"I can take about this much," he gags, scraping the tip of the esophagus.
"I'll say just about here," I lazily rest against the back of the throat. I don't like to work that hard.
So we postnasally drip ourselves through the ickier regions of the fiberglass cadaver, alarmed at just how small we feel. Two matron-patrons man a table one of many, we'll later find out, designed to quiz your scientific knowledge. On the way to the giant heart, we're circulated into their artery, where they ask us, prophetically, "How big is your heart?"
We both reflexively make fists which is wrong on so many levels and have our pictures taken by an event photographer. Like we have hearts. How would we know? Anyway, we stumble through the gallbladder, momentarily stiffening at our presence near the liver, and slowly, diarrhetically pass through the anus (my anus), where I bump into the Sentinel's Mary Frances Emmons. She has a real job. I, well, I'm shit.
Still skinnier and prettier than Mary Kate Olsen, I decide it might be a good idea to rub my own lips against some food, before spitting it into a napkin and excusing myself. Something resembling polenta rolls around in my mouth for a good four seconds, before a menopausal maiden offers to join us for dinner.
All of which must be acceptable in some overweight, procreating circles, but by the time she mispronounces "Gregarian chants," I'm throwing up in my mouth, practically clearing my gag reflex.
Our exit brings that bob-and-weave peculiar to eighth-grade spiders overdosing on booze, and I'm pointing toward the nose that's actually on my face.
What a tangled web we weave.