Even the most hardened barhopping barnacle requires the occasional nagging pull of a conscience to remind him/her why they pass out in the bottom of a bottle. And so I'm slightly chuffed to be assigning myself to an event that won't involve shooters or sexpots: the Kerry and Edwards rally at the TD Waterhouse. I care. And so does my liver.
Oh, who the hell am I kidding? Pass me some panties. John Edwards is coming to get all up in my grill, and possibly smother me in a giant dream puff sandwich! I love him soooo much. Ahem. I mean, go Democrats!
Throwing back my last energy-draining drink in the car, I prepare for what will inevitably be a scintillating journey through scripted liberalism, hiccup and start wondering just what one can expect from a soiree that opens at 6 p.m. but doesn't start until 10 p.m.
"I bet they get Chris Kirkpatrick," I grimace.
For now, I'm stuck in an unseemly funnel outside the precious small opening to the metal detectors of political progress, and the special interests of special people are virtually beaming off their placards and T-shirts. Or just sitting there.
"No More Fuzzy Math!" decry the CPAs for Kerry, fuzzily.
"No more walking," quietly think the senior citizens bussed in for the affair.
Progress here, as in most societal moments, is quite slow, and the rebels are restless. To my left, an angry mustache of a man is stewing in a steam bubble while ninny concerned mothers attempt, with a modicum of vanity, to try and engage in the reflexive demo-anger-speak he's proffering.
"The polls are bullshit!" he fumes, futility implied.
"Yeah," they surrender their voting rights.
Clearly, the wounds of the Florida Goregate are still festering here, inspiring loads of well-meaning head shakes and all kinds of exasperated gossip. Conspiracy theories abound involving Katherine Harris and Glenda Hood hiking up their tartan skirts for the big Republican vote-fuck, and just about everything else. Good thing Michael Moore didn't make it, as my head is already swimming in the torturous waters of how bad everything is. Good thing, too, because somebody's tossing out fatty sour-cream-and-onion potato chips in the name of political good will.
"Like those?" the potato god screams from about seven steps up the climb to imprisoned freedom. "There's plenty more where they came from if you elect Kerry!"
Oh, so this whole thing is about potato chips? I never knew. Me, I thought it was about how stupid George Bush is and how many times I've dreamt about sleeping between John Edward's thighs. I guess we all have our motivations.
Finally inside, I claim my media pass for no reason other than to look down on the masses and toss invisible potato chips.
"I see you!" cells my friend Angie.
"I feel just like Evita!" I pretend to be a whore who sleeps with a dictator. But I'd settle for a vice presidential candidate, just so you know.
Inside the main hall, that awkward stuffy celebratory feeling of piped-in feel-good music and white middle-agers dancing permeates the air like unexpected incontinence. Me, I'm pressing up to the stage and sharpening my nails to go in for my big gay kill. I will not leave here alone.
A palatable funk-rock outfit from Gainesville plucks and bangs through a standard regiment of flowery optimism and bar covers, probably not realizing the irony in the choice of "You Can Call Me Al" in these post-Al halcyon days.
Soon after, the cavalcade of local nobodies that one might expect from an event such as this parades through a series of meaningless speeches, clearly excited by their lack of qualification. You've got your DJs XL 106.7 and 102 Jamz are demographically representing and offering perspectives on how bad things are ("Streets aren't paved," misfires Big Sexy from 102. "And houses!" What?). And then:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Orlando's Chris Kirkpatrick," comes over the PA, and my scrotum is literally blocking my throat. He and Grant Hill proceed to keep it real for the young people by pelting them with T-shirts, while event organizers pass out sharp-edged signs to fill in the background of the photo ops. I keep reminding myself that this isn't supposed to be fun. But fucking Chris Kirkpatrick? I'm going Republican.
Buddy Dyer makes his puffy self known, although the collective whispers of "Who's that?" reveal his true impact, and I'm growing impatient. Where's my Johnny?
And then it happens. And while it's all a blur, I can still remember the good parts, just not the speeches. Sure, there was talk about taking off the gloves, and rolling up the sleeves (which they did), and there was the evangelical over-the-top-itude of Mr. Edwards' unwavering support for his daddy, Mr. Kerry. A few invectives splattered here and there brought rousing response, if I'm not mistaken. And Kerry's voice was cracking all Peter Brady, having suffered from a lot of televised hot air as of late.
But I was too busy staring at Johnny's crotch 5 feet away at my eye level to really care. Not much to see in the drape of his Dockers, I'm afraid, but I'll just chalk that up to skinny thighs. I blow him a kiss when he looks my way, and he doesn't attempt to catch it. Too busy, I guess.
By speech's end, I'm tingling in my extremities and whooping mating calls. And just then, Edwards and Kerry go all populist and come out to the crowd. Not a good idea, dear reader. Not while I'm there. By the time love-of-my-life Johnny Edwards is in striking range, I'm stepping on babies' heads to hold him in my arms. I grab his arm and rub up and down it seductively ... no hair, no stubble, perfect!
"I LOVE YOU!" I scream into his frightened-but-fantastic face. He shakes my hand, burning a nervous smile into my brain forever. And, alas, I am complete.
Oh, and I shook Kerry's hand, too.