Monday, February 13, 2012

VALENTINE'S DAY: A CAUTIONARY TALE OF LOVE-AND GIGS-GONE WRONG




Valentine’s Day… just the thought of it makes me queasy.

I’ve had so many weird, surreal and downright hellish Valentine’s Days, I often entertain the fantasy of going into hibernation on February 13, and then just popping out emotionally unscathed in the wee hours of February 15...kind of like the Groundhog, to shoot a lingering glance at my own shadow. Come to think of it, my shadow has probably been the most stable and enduring relationship I’ve ever had!

Don’t get me wrong- I’ve actually been very lucky in love and love gettin’ lucky, but in my regards to the day itself-and my surviving it- it’s a wonder I haven’t been a recipient of the Purple Heart for sheer bravery, valor and life-threatening battle wounds. In fact, the military-slogan-bearing T-shirts stretched across the buff chests of our country’s off-duty armed forces can best sum up my personal Valentine’s Day experiences:

I KNOW I’M GOING TO HEAVEN, CAUSE I’VE DONE MY TIME IN HELL!

Or better yet:

KILL ‘EM ALL…LET GOD SORT IT OUT!

I remember one sad Valentine’s Day when the only item in my mailbox that even remotely resembled a heart was a red notice from a utility company! As if that wasn’t bad enough in itself, my evening was packed with shows that only served to rub my single status in my face. Every damn place I danced was so full of cooing couples, I felt like I was performing on Noah’s Ark!

Then there was the February 14 back in the early Eighties, the date I myself had picked, as a hopeless twenty-year-old romantic, to be my Wedding Day. My groom and I, in our sole nod to tradition, arrived separately (and not too hung over) at the hall where our ceremony, which had been booked for the better part of a year, was to be held.

I was a a beautiful bride, a vision in an ivory Fifties strapless organza gown, with an over-lay of French lace embroidered with seed pearls. My hair, bleached ( or should I say “fried”!?) to a popular ‘80’s color known as White Minx, was in a fetching Marilyn Monroe bob, and under my Goodwill Juliet bridal veil, I sported my customary Revlon Cherries In The Snow lipstick. As I daintily stepped out of the car, gathering my train, I was astounded to see dozens of buckets of formerly white carnations, which had been dyed an unnatural psychedelic shade of baby blue.

As I wondered who’d Dumpster-dived the Flower District in honor of my wedding, I spotted legions of Cholos and Low Riders, uniformly bedecked in powder blue Polyester double-knit tuxes…tattooed tears and pompadours covered by homeboy hairnets abounded. The four hundred or so bridesmaids were a symphony in ruffled dresses so tight and shiny they looked like they were auditioning to be the Shark’s molls in a special baby blue colorized version of Westside Story.

Just as I was starting to realize that this was not the result of my hangover or an LSD flashback and that Ted Turner hadn’t been invited, the Unitarian priest who was to be presiding over my ceremony came rushing out to explain to my groom and I (and three quarters of East LA) that the hall had been double-booked.

Tension ran high for a moment, and finally we all decided that a coin-toss was in order. Disgruntled guests from both camps fumbled for their quarters. I actually heard the Best Man whisper to my groom that he had a full tank of gas, a fifth of Scotch, two hundred bucks… and that The Border was only three hours away.

Before my betrothed had a chance to answer, someone pulled out a coin, we won the flip, and had our ceremony first, amongst the blinding neon blue riot of dyed flowers.

I should’ve taken the scheduling snafu as an omen- that turned out to be just my First Wedding. If there are any photos that somehow survived being cut-up or burned, I can assure you they are predominantly baby blue.

Many years later, also on Valentine’s Day, I foolishly accepted a date with an ex of mine, whom I will call Art Boy, to his first major gallery opening. Why I did it, I’ll never know: I was now in the throws of an obsessive crush on my best friend, the sexually ambiguous Collegiate Art Department Head, whom Art Boy and I had both met in happier times at The Blacklite, an infamous Hollywood dive bar, frequented by trannie hookers.

And, of course there was there was the "minor" fact that Art Boy and I had been kind of broken up (oh, excuse me, I really meant hostile and incommunicado) for months.

But hearing Art Boy’s cajoling, honey/silk voice, I magically seemed to forget all of that… as well as the fact that when Art Boy and I had originally embarked upon our passionate and certifiably insane affair three years previously, on February 14th, it had resulted in the spectacularly gut-wrenching dissolution of my Second Marriage.

But Art Boy poured it on shamelessly. He really missed me, he was dying to see me belly dance again. I caved.

So I went to his gallery opening, dressed for sin in a black velvet cat suit and sky-high red platforms, glittering sequined hearts scattered throughout my ass-length, teased Pricilla Presley hair do. Art Boy was looking mighty handsome… but I hadn’t anticipated the busty redhead that was hanging all over him!

Realizing I’d been used for a free performance, I bit the bullet and decided in the name of Professionalism, to dance anyway since I was already there with my stage make up on, and crossed my fingers for good tips.

Mechanically, I started downing multiple plastic cups of the cheap swill that was barely passing for Merlot. The disinterested gallery owner rudely hustled me to a filthy, closet-sized bathroom, the only place I could change into costume. I didn’t realize that the toilet had over-flowed until my gig bag had been sitting on the floor for quite some time… because there was no light. Foul mouthed drunks banged on the door. While I performed, the hem of my costume got drenched in the puddles of beer that had formed on the cement floor, and someone in the crowd accidentally burned a hole in my veil with their cigarette.

When I finished my show, Art Boy was macking ardently on the new gal. Instantly, drinks and insults were flung from both sides, though I do believe I was the one that started it.

My trusted, oldest friend Bobby, who was visiting from Memphis, quickly escorted me out of the melee like the Gallant Southern Gentleman he always has been. Somehow, we wound up at The Blacklite. Collegiate Art Department Head was already there, much to my delight. Much to my dismay, he was there with a date. But by the end of the night, of course I was infatuated with The Date, who looked like a cross between a gorgeous glam rock fag and a 6’ 6” Hitler Youth, with big blue eyes framed by the longest, blackest eyelashes I had ever seen- and they were real!

When the din of the jukebox died down, I detected a Euro Accent. I was madly drunk and suddenly melting from lust…and apparently, he was too. That Valentine’s Day, we began or affair- and also a five year long merry-go-round of love, lies, hot sex, heartbreak, stalking, drug abuse, violence, and psychological torture, all taking place between Collegiate Art Department Head, Tomorrow Belongs To Him and lil’ ole me. You name it, we experienced it. It was a Love Triangle Of Bermudic Proportions.

Thank God all that Valentine’s Day insanity ended about a decade and a half ago, and I’ve been in a wonderful relationship for the past ten years. I’d like to say I’ve learned from my experiences… but I know better. If I was still young and foolish, I’m sure I’d repeat every mistake, and probably make more that were even worse!

My advice to the single set on Valentine’s Day? Let me wake you up when it’s over!

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