"I just don't want you to have to go alone," BlackBerries Savannah from some bleachy perch in Winter Park. "Because if I would have had to last night, I think I might have died a horrible death!"
Such is the wealth of antipathy typically associated with the company holiday party that even my superfriend twin is standing me up, not to mention my own husband. On cue, I've assigned myself the Orlando Weekly soiree this year, hoping to stir up the standard numb-tongued repartee peculiar to drunks who either write or sell for publication. If I remember correctly and knowing me, I don't I do this every year: me, a pen, a drink and some grab-ass. But whereas last year I fed off the coffee-stained, slow-news-day-isms of holiday party "etiquette" (do NOT have sex on the copy machine, etc.), this year the best I can muster is a nod to Bill O'Reilly's anti-secular, chapped and suspiciously small upper lip on the TV over the bar.
"It's like I went to bed and I woke up in a theocracy," MoveOn.s my almost-date, copy editor Jessica, she whose soul has recently been promised eternal life by the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.
"Well, I suppose it's better than waking up in your Prius." I think I'm very funny. Merry Fuckmas to all, and to all a good night.
"I think you should do a Project Runway column," pleats Jessica, draped in a slip-on that exudes Williamsburg. "I mean, look at that couple. The mitered diagonal stripes on her skirt are the exact same as the stripes on his shirt!"
So we toy around (for the few minutes that this sort of thing can hold your interest) with simply referring to people as their outfits, realizing, of course, that even the best-laid fishnets get runs. At the center of everything is über-ad rep Dan Winkler, whose silky day-glo-salmon suit is way louder than any of the conversation currently being drowned in ‘80s bar mitzvah musings. Come on, Eileen.
"Salmon's the new pink," I wink at Winkler.
"Yeah, and black's the new black," he smacks the difficult thematic projection right out of my skull.
Even after a short conversation involving the messages sent by ad director Graham's half-tucked, half-untucked blouse ("I read a whole article in Details on that!" details Jessica), I'm sick with the thought that I've got nothin'. Naturally, I give up and give in to my downtown autopilot, squeezing out a mingle face and traveling around Room 3-Nine with a gait best described as an imaginary Molly Ringwald conga line for one. The one thing I'm not going to talk about is my colon.
"So what's new?" quizzes Winkler.
"Eh." "S.O.S., then," he same old shits.
No shit. I took care of that. Without missing a movement, I'm soon involved in a powwow with editor Bob Whitby's wife, Peggy (red dress), and music editor Jason Ferguson's wife, Eve (drapey peasant top). And we're talking about my colon (or my column). Truth be told, I'm only one day out of my anesthetized colonoscopy, and the subject is still fresh on both my mind and my ass.
"What was it like?" intrudes Eve, with more interest than one might expect.
"I'm not sure," I dither with all the charm of girl who's just been fingered in the woods. "All I know is that when I woke up, I asked the doctor if I was a good boy and if I was messy."
Gross. To lighten the load a little, I saunter up to the DJ, an old friend by the name of James, and simulate fellatio on the rim of my Newcastle; then things go all Ridgemont High. There are two other choppy bleaches in attendance, and I revert to cafeteria-criticism mode.
"That one over there, she's a Benatar," I come on like a flame, then I turn the cold shoulder. "And that one, too."
Jessica and I surmise that since we don't really know at least half of the people here, we ought to run around with Post-its reading "SG" (somebody's girlfriend) or "SB" (somebody's boyfriend), just to clarify. She is an editor, after all. But not the editor.
What I haven't done yet is break the cardinal holiday party rule. So far, I've managed to elude the people who actually sign my checks, unless you count the seven or so times that editor Bob Whitby and I have grabbed each other's asses, and I'm feeling fairly proud of myself. But then…
"Have you ever seen the movie Valley Girl?" valleys Weekly publisher Rick rhetorically in my direction, while Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue" blares. "You know that scene where Nicolas Cage is in the shower and this song is playing?"
"Rick, are you trying to tell me that you re-enact that scene on a regular basis?" I twitch uncontrollably, spoon-gagged.
"In my head," he recoils. "When I hear this song."
Rick then goes on to remind me that once, long before he was the brass upon which my reputation hung, I tried to paint his toenails at a party. To which I can only respond, "Well, I was on a lot of coke," clearly protecting the interest of my employment. This is going well.
Ice unceremoniously broken, I can only smile giddily when Bob invites me to live with him and his wife and kids in some sort of "nanny" capacity, winking and nudging until my own tampered-with pooper pinches. He's kidding, though. I'm horrible with kids.
Before long, everything's descended into some primordial ether, with Bob flailing around playing air guitar and promising to follow up on his previous promise to front a Christian "life metal" band with Jason Ferguson, circulation manager John Prinzo and I.T. guy Ian Monroe. It's all one giant inside joke that even I don't get, so when talk of continuing the shenanigans at another bar begins to belch up, my right foot is pointed in the direction of my exit vehicle.
The holiday party is over. I've died my horrible firstname.lastname@example.org