Don't get me wrong. While I thoroughly enjoyed the clumsy dusting of the campaign trail mostly the knitting together of monosyllabic pearls of wisdom into beige shrouds of civic overstatement I've always been more comfortable in a cynical shade of misery. It might have been fun pretending that I was JFK, throwing my head dramatically onto my boyfriend's lap in the back of my campaign manager's convertible, but my own personal character assassination was never meant to last. I'd prefer to be the Marilyn in the political mess, anyway.
So I thought I'd throw myself back into the apolitical ether on Tuesday night by doing what I do best: unfunny submersion in the ebb and flow of nostalgic popular culture. Billy Idol was to be rebelling, albeit with corporate backing and a trademarked sneer, at the House of Blues, and if nothing else the match of my situation to his situation seemed obvious. I've been called Billy Idol before, and I imagine that he has, too. It doesn't get any funnier than that.
Add to the predictable bleach-rooted metaphors that conjoin us the fact that I once saw Billy Idol climb out of the crotch of a giant pair of hydraulic legs at the Hollywood Sportatorium, and that I was there with a girl (a girl!) who I used to make out with while listening to "Eyes Without a Face," and it's sure to be column gold, or at least a prematurely rinsed high yellow.
But something about watching Idol prance mechanically across the stage signing autographs while howling back at the charts that forgot him and putting on punky T-shirts only to rip them off made me sad.
"Look at his abs!" cooed my friend Cyn, who met me there.
"I can't," I clenched my own. "I'm too busy dying inside."
And as Idol morphed one of his signature covers into a crowd-pleasing thud of "Hot in Orlando, hot in Orlando tonight!" I actually caught myself heckling. Like, out loud.
"Don't do that!" I cried. My hair fell flat and nobody heard. Omigod. Has politics ruined me?
No, but it has at least invited me out for a drink.
On this particular Friday night, the Young Democrats are launching a new monthly series of casual events called "Speak Easy," which is funny only if you throw on a flapper dress, close your eyes and conjure Prohibition. Still, it's a nice idea given the stuffy political climate of the recent months, and just how boring a group of active liberals can be when sober. Better still, the first Speak Easy is taking place at a gay bar, which means that if I feel completely uncomfortable, I can just pretend I'm Billy Manes on a Friday night at Lava. Dyer? I don't even know 'er, etc.
It's not a glamorous affair nothing in Orlando is but I'm unintentionally, unfashionably late. I suppose it's my unconscious payback for being escorted out of the political fray early, but that's just supposition fueled by a chronic tendency to blame my drunken disorganization on thematic serendipity. Anyway, I miss the meat of the meeting a couple of speeches by people familiar only to those entertained by daytime liberal ideologies and arrive just in time to feel like a stupid also-ran. Which I am.
The trouble is that my mug is displayed all over town thanks to my long-winded campaign diary last week's Orlando Weekly cover story. So sneaking in is out of the question. Also, within the story are several potentially unflattering references to several people who are present, in addition to plenty of unflattering references to myself. My entry is duly cautious.
"Hi, I'm Dena," a pretty girl outstretches her hand, making a silent nod to the fact that we've met before, but I'm too stupid to remember. (In fact, Dena might not even be her name. I'm that bad.). "Uh, yeah. Let me get you a drink so that you can mingle."
That I can do.
Once outside (the gathering is in Lava's patio area), my nerves are quickly smoothed over by a Young Dem named Kristian. He gives me a genuine hug, and quickly sets to effusing about both my candidacy and my story.
"I love the dialogue with your boyfriend in the beginning," he says, cleaning up my potty-mouthed reference to Alan being ordered to "fuck the mayor!" "I was reading it in my car and almost ran off the road!"
Encouraged, I set to pinballing throughout the assembled crowd, blowing cheap gay-bar kisses and sheepishly shuffling my feet at the notion that I might be depressed about my political failure. Which I'm not. Trust me.
Doug Head, the ubiquitous Democrat watchdog, is both here and not particularly Young. He throws a big smile in my direction, and then pats an empty chair next to him so that I might figuratively poodle up to his side. And I do.
"Uber-Dem!" he laughs out loud, with a slight glassy echo of inebriation. "You called me Uber-Dem!"
Pleasantries percolate momentarily, until Orange County Commissioner Bob Sindler joins our fray and starts talking serious business with Head. I start to glaze over beneath the stale exchange of county land queries and something called "The Club," which to the best of my understanding is not a bathhouse off Michigan Street. I know I'm supposed to be interested, given my New Political Standing, but I'm not. Instead, I'm staring at Sindler's squinty eyes and trying to make a connection.
"Do you have a daughter?" I finally do. "A daughter named Julie?"
"Yes," he looks a little nervous.
"We were best friends in college! I thought I knew you," thus defeating the whole notion that politics is about issues.
"Now it all makes sense," Head starts. "Your whole political career."
If it does, I can't feel it. Instead, I feel my way out the door and back to my quiet rebellion of Billy Idol disposability and mixed drinks on the couch. Don't get me wrong.