This month, I turned 29. Now, as a general rule, I have a large celebration to mark my having successfully avoided making it onto the Darwin Awards for another year. After all, I feel that it's my solemn duty to not only give myself the good time that I deserve, but I want to spread it around as much as humanly possible. However, for whatever reason, this year's impending birthday didn't inspire much excitement in me. In fact, I would go so far as to almost claim a general malaise about the whole event, and surprisingly not from any fear of getting older. I've never had much fear about that a) because I'm a firm believer that, generally speaking, one's 30s tend to be a more fulfilling decade than one's 20s and b) because despite turning 29 I still don't look a day over 21. How do I know this? Well, for one, I still get carded at bars, but even more telling was a brief encounter I had with my ex, Danny, a few weeks ago. It went like this:
Me: Danny! Hi, how are you?
Danny: Oh my God, Paul how are you?
Me: I'm doing okay, how are you?
Danny: I'm good...you look...exactly the same...
Blood of puppies. It works.
Not only does my actual age not reflect itself in my face, I also received a little boost from an old friend right around this time. Tommy is someone I used to wait tables with down in TriBeCa...he was a good time, had a fantastically checkered past and was an unabashed slut. I signed into my e-mail account one day to see that I had gotten a message from him, entitled "Are you in South Carolina?" Now, anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn't be caught dead in South Carolina. The one time I was unfortunate enough to be forced into the state was when I was on tour in my early 20's, and was informed upon check-in to the hotel we were staying at the we were in time for afternoon mass. Caught between gagging and spontaneously bursting into flames, I was lucky that someone behind me was able to pick up the dialogue where I left off and get us registered. But I digress.
Tommy was inquiring as to my whereabouts because, as he proudly stated, he had been looking for casual sex on the internet (him not feeling the need to dissemble about this at all should tell you all you need to know about Tommy) and someone had responded to his ad...using my headshot and claiming it was them. Now I understand that this should probably cause a feeling of uneasiness. After all, a stranger is using my photo on the internet. However, the truth of the matter is that my headshot is out in the world; it's probably frightenly easy for many people to get their hot little hands on it. This is why we don't print home addresses on them. So, despite the fact that I'm sure my mother is going to be completely disturbed by this story, I have to admit that upon receipt of this e-mail my first reaction was nothing other than...pride. After all, there is someone out there who is PRETENDING to look like me. Even the most humble among us couldn't help but be flattered. And let's be honest, we all know that I'm far from the most humble among us...upon hearing the news, I preened like a peacock, even while the more grounded part of my brain screamed "This is WEIRD! BE OFFENDED!!" This two paragraph tangent can be filed under "Story That Is Too Good To Not Blog About, and So Must Be Shoehorned Into Whatever Paul Is Writing About This Month."
Anyway, I'm not entirely certain why I wasn't excited about planning a birthday bash, though I suspect it may have had something to do with spending the week directly prior gallivanting around Italy and drinking myself stupid. Unfortunately, I've found that there's a downside to regularly having a yearly celebration, and then one year not feeling like putting out the effort: people notice. It happened when I was unable to host the Oscar Party a few years ago. I foolishly assumed, that with no invitation e-mail going out in the month prior, people would simply realize it wasn't happening that year; however, it turns out that people tend to have two reactions when they don't receive an invite they are expecting. Some people assume that it's still going on, and plan on arriving at your door anyway. Most of my friends fall into this category. Other people assume that it's still going on...and for some reason that they cannot comprehend, they have been dropped from the guest list, causing a level of panic not unlike the one inspired in me when one suggests that I go camping. I find this level of insecurity to be a toxic cocktail of pathetic and insipid. There were a few of these as well...and for the most part, they no longer count themselves among people I invite anywhere.
Hoping to avoid another invitation debacle like Oscargate 2006, I complained to two of my best friends, Victoria and Lisa, that I didn't feel like planning anything, hinting ever so delicately that maybe they would like to step up to the plate and do the heavy lifting. Luckily, my friends are always quick to pick up on my intimations (I believe Victoria calls them anvils), and the two took it upon themselves to plan the entire celebration. They chose the restaurant, the bar, the schedule...all I had to do was forward them a guest list, and show up to look pretty. It gave me a taste of how addictive it must be to start having personal assistants. Don't feel like dealing with all the petty minutia that make up everyday life? Not to worry...let the assistants handle it, then you show up and take credit. Brilliant!
With the planning of my birthday successfully delegated, I happily continued on with my life, which in the days between Rome and June 4th consisted mostly of me attempting to ring out my liver to the point where I would again be able to imbibe alcohol. The day of the bacchanal dawned and my first order of business was to visit my nephew. I'm happy to report that he remains perfect, and while the reports of his activities may seem banal to the casual reader ("You wouldn't believe how he can throw his head around!" or "He belches like a man!" or "Oh my God, you put a hat on him and he looks like a little old man!") I assure you that they continue to send shockwaves throughout the entire clan. Joseph was very happy to entertain his uncle, presenting me with a big grin while he bathed, a nice large drool spot on my shirt when he passed out, and more than a few instances of diaper-shaking flatulence, causing both his mother and I to dissolve into uncontrollable giggles.
My birthday continued to unfold in a fairly predictable manner: dinner, drinks, tequila shots, gay bar and so forth. At least until the time came for the drag show to begin, at which point I have to say I ceded the role of star of the evening to my friend Erika. Now, you might now be thinking that Erika is a drag queen, and it's my solemn duty to inform you that this is not the case. The drag hostess of the evening was one Bianca del Rio, and if there is a nastier, bitchier queen out there today, I have yet to meet her. Naturally, I find her hi-freaking-larious. Erika, on the other hand is my Cuban spitfire friend, who you might remember from a few posts back as having brought me to Georgia for a wedding. She also, besides being hysterically funny, seems to naturally give off some kind homing beacon for drag queens, which causes them to hone in on her, call her onstage and proceed to become completely smitten with her in about 3 minutes. Seriously, bringing her to a drag show is like chumming the waters by the Great Barrier Reef.
So, naturally, Erika was called up onstage, alongside a young woman who appeared to be of Arabic descent about whom Ms. del Rio promptly made an off-color joke regarding her less than feminine amount of body hair. I would have felt bad for the poor girl, but she was wearing leggings as pants. Leggings. Are. Not. Pants. Accept it. The two young women were forced to compete in a game of naming TV theme songs from the 80's, a game that it turns out I am terrible at. Anyway, within a few moments, just as so many drag queens before her, Bianca del Rio fell completely under the sway of Erika, and mercilessly verbally shredded her opponent for criminal stupidity, much to the delight of my entire birthday contingent. After another few minutes of this, Leggings was banished off-stage, and it was here that I was unfortunately called up, as the birthday celebrant, to compete with Erika in a second round.
Needless to say, Erika destroyed me at this; not only was I about 100% drunker than she, my mother never allowed us to watch television when we were younger. I didn't (and still don't) know the 90210 theme song, which to most of my generation is the aural equivalent of comfort food. After that beating, we were then informed that we would compete in a dance-off to decide the final winner of the evening. Now, I may have been blitzed, but I was under no illusions that I had snowball's chance in hell of winning this. Erika at this point not only had Bianca eating out of the palm of her hand, but every gay man in that bar desperately wanted to be her best friend. Besides this, at this point I had had enough to drink that I was operating with the basic grace of someone with two left feet that were both fractured. However, I must admit I was not expecting the kind of A-Game that Erika demonstrated in that moment.
Bianca excitedly announced that Erika would be dancing to Black Velvet by Alanna Myles. When asked later what was going through her head at that moment, Erika said that she realized she had two choices: she could bitch out, or she could nut up. Well, I can tell you with assurance that when Ms. Villalba chooses to nut up, she straps on a pair of balls that are pure steel. She did not dance to Black Velvet...she performed to it, owned it and made it her bitch. In a whirl of inspiration that can only be described as an homage to the burlesque strip tease, she used her time to a) delight her audience, drag queen and lush alike, and b) remind me that my friends are AWESOME. So, even though my 29th birthday party started out as something I couldn't muster up the energy to care about, by the end of it I couldn't have asked for a better celebration.
And Erika gave me the $50 gift certificate she won at the bar. Drinks anyone?