Something's missing. It's not just that typical Orlando left its house with its toupee kind of missing, but something else. Downtown in Thornton Park, scattered folk of the upwardly mobile variety are buzz-buzz-buzzing in some sort of third Thursday fashion, politely brushing spaghetti strap to padded blazer shoulder in inconsequential interaction, speaking mutedly of mergers and acquisitions, marriage and failure. The standard repartee of slightly wined realtors letting loose. But that's not it.
"Omigod!" le Sexy Savannah perks in my ear. "We both got our roots done today!"
Rootless, indeed, Savannah and I are out on the town, acting out a cover version of our bleached selves, on a mission that I've half-baked (er, blanched) to find out how the other half the half with roots still on display live. I've suggested that we stand next to, or possibly spill wine on, the hair-lazy in order to understand better just how much better we are than them. Mostly because we're not. I think the fumes have gone to my head.
"There's one," sleuths Savannah, as we try to figure out whether said subject's pleather-jacket-matched shoes are champagne or simply a tawdry, soiled white.
Naturally, I eavesdrop, because actual interaction is scary. But the fact that one among the circle uttered the term Freaks and Geeks twice within the space of two minutes is far more cause for worry. Like, I know she doesn't own the DVD set or any such accessory of irony, so whatever could she be talking about? As much as I can be, I'm intrigued.
"Do you see the one with the scarf wrapped around her boob?" Savannah is likewise intrigued.
I avoid boobs. Except Savannah's.
Anyway, by the time the rooty conversation veers into the nethers of carat size, boot cuts and more freaks, more geeks, I'm considerably worried. This isn't funny, digestive or even sad. This is just life happening … without a toupee. And me without a column.
So we scramble our collective egg-white hair up the block to Hue. Before I can even say, "This place always smells like fish," we're caught by an oversized, sequined, pop-culture net. Hooray.
ABC casting has set up shop just outside the entrance with a table and a banner. It's all very ominous and not the least bit exciting, but it's something and maybe, just maybe, it's the something that's missing.
In fact, it's something worse. The tentatively titled Ex-Wives Club is here mining the upper crust for misery, hoping to cast a season of reality upchuck with women and men who have recently been divorced or separated and are having trouble adjusting. Awesome.
Two girls who might as well be named Ashley are sitting at the table, bored and staring, while a sprinkle of gay people who want to be on TV face rejection on account of the fact that they can't really be married. Every now and then, a pursed-lipped woman with a silk top will arrive to have her digital photo taken against a wall, and will then be released into the Hue throng to be grilled by producers.
"So, what if I told you that Savannah and I used to be married but had to get divorced because we have the same hair color and I like to do it with boys?" I ask an honest question. "Could we do it then?"
"Well, no," the Ashleys giggle their polite Los Angeles party giggle.
"Take our picture!" Savannah demands. "See how pretty we are! We should have our own show!"
Secretly we're assuming that once whatever stain Michael Eisner left gets a look at us, we're on an instant path to sitcom celebrity. Not so secretly, we're insane. Anyway, the Ashleys go on to tell us that they're offering the services of a corps of image consultants and psychologists, along with a celebrity panel that includes and I'm not kidding Marla Maples, Shar Jackson, Angie Everhart and Tawny Kitaen. When and if it premieres, we can only assume that TV Guide will be delivered with a bottle of whiskey and a handgun.
For shits and giggles (mostly for shits, I suppose) we decide to go into the Hue pit and find somebody who might have talked to somebody about something, landing on a couple of girls named Megan and Tammy.
Megan's a big Savannah fan (with roots!) and Tammy is the divorcee. And although the sorta-pretty 30-year-old insists that her split was "amicable," she drove all the way over from Titusville to be potentially humiliated on national television. Or worse, by Marla Maples.
"So, isn't it weird?" I genius. "I mean living this thing out for television producers and all?"
"Yeah," she looks genuinely freaked out.
When I ask her what she told them, she blurts something like, "I think you just tell them the bits that you want them to hear," out of the side of her mouth. Reality is clearly out of the question.
But insanity isn't. Some pony-haired queer with a failed fashion angle (named Tyson!) is cruising around our periphery, which makes me sick but makes Savannah somehow spiritual.
"What's your story?" Savannah finally asks him, and as he details a life of modeling, drinking and eating sushi, I giggle shits inside. He's missing something, too. A brain. And we're missing our freedom, so we make a hasty exit from the Hell's Kitchen that stands between Urban Body and Urban Think.
"Why does everything have to say it's 'urban' here?" I wax philosophical, and wane in pain. "It's like a dollhouse with an attitude problem."
Inside Urban Body, the gayest gay store this side of Gayville, Savannah spots a "Free Tibet" T-shirt and asks, "Isn't Tibet free?"
"No, Savannah. Butterflies are free," I droll. And all that's missing is my firstname.lastname@example.org