I missed the John Burroughs Pop Show last year, which I had watched on tape since 2002 and attended since 2003, because I was busy with an eating disorder that compelled me to finish off all the condiments in the house. It wasn't that I couldn't leave the house to go to the auditorium because I was too busy with a jar of honey mustard, but more like I was so consumed and depressed about the way that honey mustard consumed me that I forgot it was that time of year again. When I realized the show had come and gone, it was the worst feeling to know that a destructive compulsion had stepped in the way of one that had always made me feel so positively about life.
This year I reserved the best available tickets. I waited with great excitement. I wore my hoodie from the 2003 show around town to run errands. The night of, I put on a flounced dress. When we got to the auditorium and saw that our seats were in the second row, center, my boyfriend said, "You realize that we're technically in the first row." The front had been cleared for the director, a plush man who seat-danced and lip-synced along with "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend."
I've written here before about the adorable redheaded boy who looks like America to me; in other words, who looks like the grown-up version of the kid on my collector's Kellogg's Cornflakes bowl, except with a tiny gold hoop earring. He opened the show. And I swear I could have cried at seeing him if not for feeling very dead inside due to my dad's cancer, the stress of making sure the third book is what I know it can be, and an increased and distracting fear of planes (amongst other concerns), because I thought that the redheaded boy had graduated last year. I'd been sure that I'd missed his last show, and when he appeared to welcome everyone, I could have cried.
The other day I was talking with my boyfriend about how I used to think I was the shit when my dad picked me up from dance class and had me run into the pizza place in my leotard to get our family's order. I'd been convinced that every person in the restaurant was in awe of me: a young, healthy, vibrant dancer. The fact probably was that no one was bowled over by the sight of me as dancer, with the exception of any pedophiles who might have been enjoying an in-house slice.
Watching the opening number of Pop Show 30: "Still the One," I stared up at all the ebullient faces (being incredibly close this year, I could even make out the sparkles in eyes), and the performers had that look I used to wear into the pizza parlor, the last time I was sure I was important without good cause. Seeing it on them made me feel a little less dead inside. And then, as the show continued, I realized that the students in the show had as good a cause as any to feel that the entire auditorium was in awe of them because they deserved it, because I was.
Before I get into what changed, I want to remark on what remained the same, and thankfully so. There were still the female group numbers featuring identical costumes that continue to provide instruction on just how dramatically different a sparkling bath towel can look on the most innocent of chests versus mountainous breasts. There were still the gowns slit further than Lisa Rinna has dared yet to go. There were still the simulated blow jobs: during a punchy song and dance number to Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold," the girls whipped the boys with their hair, and then the boys appeared to get them back for that violence by taking hold of the girls' heads while they sat on the floor, bringing them to their crotches, and pantomiming oral sex, all the while wearing the kickiest Miami Vice white leisure suits.
There was still the skinny, slinky blonde in an outfit sure to make someone's dad's head pop off-- this time in a Sailor Moon costume that looked as if it had been through the warm cycle ten times, her long hair in pigtails that kept time with her hips (swaying to a rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good"). Mr. Peebles, the math teacher, came out per usual and did his rap, "Do Your Math," to the tune of Rihanna and T.I.'s "Live Your Life," and, per usual, got ahead of himself spitting out mile-a-minute math puns and had to bounce around for awhile, waiting for the chorus to kick back in.
But the repeated element of Pop Show that I love the most is the way that the guys blur the lines between straight and gay and seem to be doing so intentionally, I think partly as a comment on how assumptions are unwelcome, and partly as an act of team protection. The past few years I've watched as all-male song and dance group "Men @ Work" has done some flaming work to ambiguous numbers. This Pop Show they sang a medley about female love interests that began with Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl," which was accompanied by some of the gayest dancing I've ever seen. If you think I'm making an unwelcome assumption about flipped wrists, then consider that the number ended with two members clasping hands in the middle of the stage and doing a double herkie together while winking at the audience. A herkie, for those of you who weren't on the junior varsity pep squad (by the time I'd hit the junior varsity pep squad, I didn't think special outfits in pizza parlors did anything for me anymore), is a cheer move comprised of a vertical jump in the air with legs bent and toes pointed. Capping off the song, it was performed as a knowing joke referencing the nervousness about kissing girls, and it seemed to say, "Men @ Gay, Campy Work," except for the fact that part of the group is gay, part isn't, and they make no attempt to differentiate.
As the medley about girls transitioned to a Spanish-themed medley about girls, a handful of the members reappeared on stage. Changed into Gaucho costumes, they danced the tango with life-sized rag women. They clutched onto the limp dolls, whose heads wouldn't stay up, the adorable redheaded boy particularly adorable as he giggled his way through the steps with an inanimate partner who kept drooping toward the floor. And then, after realizing that romance just wasn't going to happen with their "ladies," the guys abruptly threw them off the stage, shrugging as if to say, "Hey, we tried." Then the rest of the large group ran in and the guys happily, easily danced with each other through the 98 Degrees "Uno Noche" finale.
All this just to say, every guy in the group looks pretty gay and very comfortable giving that impression. You'd have to see it for yourself because in writing I worry it could be confused with the self-consciousness of the straight guys at my high school who either had to dress up like women whenever they wanted to do an all-out, jazzy dance routine to let you know that they were totally kidding, or who participated in musical theater only when the male roles were sufficiently masculine. For example, when they could get into flannel shirts and when dancing only meant twirling around real, live girls in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. On the Burroughs stage, there is something good-natured and even touching about the ambiguity; maybe it's just for show, but it feels like these guys have flung their arms around each other, with none of the winking.
The first book on my new Random House contract is due on the last day of this month, so commenter John, who wants me to try harder, is going to have to wait for a burst of exhaustive trying until after I get the manuscript turned in. (I will say that John, we should try harder together, because your comments are also pretty unexhaustive, and if you want to compete with the most dismissive person to ever hit up the blog regularly, then you are going head-to-head against my eighty-something cousin Gil, who used to visit under an assumed identity for the first year or two after the blog launched, leaving unbelievably bitchy comments about how I wasn't a worthy writer and how if I wanted to see one, I should pick up a Richard Brautigan book. Then who, the following Thanksgiving, produced a Richard Brautigan book at the family table and began to read a favorite passage from it, making eye contact with me, so I would finally understand that the bitchy comments had come from him, a familiar blood relative. Then who, after reading the Brautigan passage, leered at me and asked me to name what I had been most thankful for that year. And who then got insulted when I refused to answer and instead stood up from the table and walked into the other room to watch that evening's installment of Survivor. Who I haven't spoken more than two words to since. He is your big competition.)
For the time being, I'd just like to quickly and cheaply acknowledge this Valentine's Day, courtesy of the People magazine that my mom and I share a joint subscription to, meaning that after she quickly reads an issue, she cheaply sends it over to me. I wasn't going to do valentine cards this year because when the economy goes, doilies fly out the window too, but in the latest People, two companies offered free tear-and-share valentines. Seeing as how they cost nothing and are full of charm, I figured there's no reason not to give them out.
First one courtesy of Tampax:
And two more from Abreva, intended to be "sent with love," which I think might be a euphemism for herpes.
Me, I'm sending crazy, cold sore-less love out to my boyfriend, who's seen me through a lot lately, including 1. the time I thought someone had stolen my dog and immediately began sobbing before he reminded me that we'd just dropped her off at the groomer's a half-hour ago 2. various angles up and through my dad's open-backed hospital gown and 3. this season of The Bachelor.
And I do certainly wish all you readers all the edible panties your dresser's underthings drawer can hold!
My boyfriend's moving in with me. We're expanding westward into the mannnsion, and in the process we'll acquire a new bedroom, which my landlords told us we can paint since I've never been able to understand yellow. Brent and I came to an agreement that we'd do the room a silvery color, and while in a dream world I'd toss up some Ralph Lauren metallic, my landlords are into solar panels and self-made yogurt and the idea of moving a milk cow into the backyard and low-VOC living, and not so much into paint that still contains a trace amount of lead.
This is the room as it now stands before we continue our conquest of the east wing:
Yesterday we laid out the silvery paint chips in front of us and secretly voted on individual top 3's, so now we're down to two final choices. Not in the sense that we can't decide between them, but in the sense that Brent is romantically swayed by the name of one, and I am romantically swayed by the name of the other.
This is Ozark Shadows from the Benjamin Moore Historical collection, which we're also agreed upon (the historical part, I mean) because we share a fetish for historical structures. These paints are exactly what your grandfather's grandfather would have put on his clapboard house had he not actually been from Poland.
Brent likes Ozark Shadows because...he's from the Ozarks. It's a narcissistic choice. Last night he texted me, "Imagine a dawn breaking gray over the misty ancient ozarks..."
To which I texted in response:
"Imagine Revere's famous ride against a pewter horse."
This is Revere Pewter, which I like because it stands for bravery and freedom and is the namesake of a man who was actually a silversmith. It has a nice burnished quality about it that complements the notion of history more truthfully than the more whispery image of "shadows," which just reset every day.
To get a better idea of what the colors really look like on a wall, I searched for photos in an interior design engine, and wouldn't you know it-- there was an example of a professional decorator having recognized Revere Pewter's incredible appeal and used it to coat a room.
Whereas when I did a search for "Ozark Shadows," all I could find was that this uptight planned community in Colorado chose it as an acceptable color for their boring, new construction homes.
There is, however, still one additional vote to be had in the household, as we're not the only two who have to live with whichever paint we choose. Christmas gets her say, and although she originally voted for kicky red and green tartan wallpaper, she's now cool with the festive associations that come with silver ("...bells, it's Christmas time, in the cityyyyyyy"). I ran the final dueling options by her yesterday, and when I said, "Christmas! Ozark Shadows?" she did this:
And when I said, "Christmas! Revere Pewter?" she did this:
So I think that brings it to two against one in the battle, but feel free to weigh in below.
UPDATE: I don't know why he bothered, but Brent felt that he suddenly had to launch his first blog out of the blue to defend Ozark Shadows.
UPDATE 2: Maybe there will be peace in the house. Tonight while reading an interior designer chat room log, I discovered that there is such a thing as a low-VOC, water-based, metallic paint. It's made by a company called "Modern Masters," and they offer both a cool and warm full-coverage silver: