It comes as no surprise to me that I'm currently in the business of crafting pilgrimages out of virtually nothing. You know, like mid-'90s, fat, almost-celebrity-stalking nothing.
My friends and I -- two girls, a boy, no sexual affiliation therein, tellingly -- are drifting around our local elbow of Lake Eola to get to The Social when it hits me that maybe I've taken this whole thing too far. After all, I'm walking, when I haven't sported a ligament for years. And for what?
We're going to see the Twilight Singers on a Saturday night downtown: the emotional equivalent of falling asleep on the couch with a penis in your mouth and potato chips everywhere.
The object of my affliction is one Greg Dulli, the larger-than-life sweathog who formerly fronted those '90s stalwarts, Afghan Whigs. I phone-interviewed him in a phone-sex, drug-dealer kind of way a week earlier -- outside a bar, in my car. It's that good.
"I totally imagine you giving me a blow job in my crack-house Geo," I said with divine subtlety.
"Send me a postcard from fantasy land!" he coughed like a large man. "'Cuz I've never been there."
From that moment, I was hooked; well, that moment and the one where he told me his tour manager had the "nose of Dionne Warwick," to which I responded, playfully, "Mine's as big as Manhattan!"
Cheerful stuff, there; odd double entendres either involving penis size or ability to inhale narcotics (does the nose tell the story?), sifting through a cell phone with all the charm of a bottle and a gun in the top desk drawer.
All due unfairness, I never liked Greg Dulli. In fact, I used to make fun of straight boys in My So-Called College for obsessing over his off-key howl of mayonnaise-smelling, big-boy sexual frustration. It was, in some sick way, the easiest way of getting them to sleep with me.
While the Whigs' lackadaisical career culminated in a wretched, superfluous cover of TLC's "Creep," mine was just burgeoning into that of professional creep.
Even I have to admit that it should have been apparent we would someday cross paths. I can admit it these days, anyway; all whispering sweet nothings about blow jobs and cocaine to the delight of precisely no one.
But then, in my mid-to-late 20s, I had a sexual revelation of sorts while listening to the Twilight Singers' first record, and all bets were off. Someday I would meet Greg Dulli, smear some mayonnaise all over myself and relieve his ache. Oh, to dream.
And with that dysfunction under my belt, I claw my way to the bar at The Social to order my standard catheter of a double screwdriver from midshelf.
The smartass bartender, who's been a smartass bartender for some time (and I would know), pushes over a tall Tucher glass with cherries and a side salad of ambrosia all over it, and now I look like a fat girl on her first one-day cruise. In the morning, in the evening, ain't we got fun?
I approach Michael McRaney, the promotional source of this potential bonfire of the vanities, with ambrosiaed breath.
"Where's Greg Dulli?!" I shake uncontrollably. "I need to see Greg Dulli!"
"Just got here," he answers, with some suspicion. "I think they're still in the tour bus."
After which he raises his fingers to his mouth to imply either smokey-dopey or chewing on wheat. I could stand either.
Instead I'm forced to endure odd conversations of the "I've met you before, you just don't remember" variety and wait while my friends exchange pictures of their children.
We're all getting sooooo old.
One friend teases me by confessing that he just peed next to Greg, like I once peed next to Joey Fatone. Of course I buy it, run to the bathroom and hunt my prey. Turns out he was lying. Turns out we're all lying.
Anyway, McRaney diverts me to the back room where Dulli and his Singers are doing whatever it is people fresh off tour buses do. I'm immediately star-struck. If not just diminished.
"Hey, I'm Billy. I interviewed you for the Weekly." (I feel only a slight desperate tinge of "Feed me, Seymour!")
"You look like the Snow Miser," my sweet bovinity replies, confusing me.
"You mean the Heat Miser?" I try to regain my street cred.
"No, he was pudgier."
Um, OK. With a sly smile and a "Meet me after the show," he's off to create (or re-create) beautiful music, while I'm off looking for a tub of mayonnaise. One gal-pal has to leave because her baby's daddy can't seem to get the kid to stop crying. Her sister follows, and the whole night feels distinctly like it's falling apart. And I can't stop crying. Somebody call Jerry Springer, and I mean it this time.
After the show I toss my girl-drink to the side of a speaker, and run out the back door toward the bus. Bliss is imminent, I predict, smearing mayonnaise everywhere. Two knocks on the bus door, and I'm met with Dionne Warwick's nose.
"Hey, um, Greg said he wanted to hang out with me after the show." I can't seem to muster a (wheat) germ of dignity. "My name is, um, Billy. From the Weekly!"
And then Dionne disappears back into the bus to submit my application, while I sit outside a tour bus, on a planter. "They say that the road is no place to start a family," journeys through my shaking head. And, slowly, I begin to grow Jersey-girl claw bangs.
Six hours later Dionne returns, shaking her (um, his) head. Failure.
And I walk home, only to discover that there are ankles under my Olivia Newton-John legwarmers. In fact, there always were.
By the way, did I mention that I hate mayonnaise anyway?