The promise of cheese-on-a-stick, midway rides spinning me into a state of catatonic-nausea and ex-con carnies harassing me to win deformed stuffed animals would have to wait. â¦ at least until after I got my fill of the Roller Derby State Championship at the FL State Fairgrounds.
Anne Tagonize, president of the Tampa Bay Derby Darlings, smuggled Zach, Kelly and me through the riot-style security gates for a rink-side view of the action. Outfitted in hot-purple and black, the local favorite, The Tampa Tantrums, were battling their way to a state title. Dueling announcers â half sportscasters and half strip-club MCs â gave the play-by-play. The Tantrums' unstoppable jammer, Battle Axe, racked up points by lapping opposing blockers who were covered in tattoos, pads and bruises. RisquÃ© nicknames were plastered on skaters: Mission Mary Position, Cutthroat Darling, Busty Bruiser, Cornfed (stretched across gold booty shorts) and The Great Wall of Jina (a name I'm still trying to wrap my mind around). Even the refs had distinct personalities. One was dressed in a kilt, and another, Hoosier Daddy, employed a few moves from his profession as a break-dance skater.
For dudes that have a dudette, Valentine's Day often means an empty wallet or a girlfriend crying about how her guy has lost his passion. The problem is rooted in grammar school. Boys grow up thinking February 14 is like a second Halloween â simply a chance to score some candy. For girls, the day teaches them to equate romance with how many cards and chocolates they got. Boyfriends and husbands can't get away with buying sweets and renting a romantic comedy, because this is what plenty of girls do when they are lonely and single â add to that a wad of Kleenexes to soak up the tears and melted ice cream.
My point is this. Sitting at home moping will only make you fat and lonelier. If you want romance, go out and find it. On Valentine's Day, the single women are so drunk off the perfumed stench of romance, that even a jackass like myself can come away looking like Don Juan.
I took my search to Push Ultra Lounge, where THX MGMT was debuting its Thursday night live music series. Lively couples and strings of singles came out to enjoy the three separate bars (one for each floor â including the roof) and to listen to Life of Pi and The Beauvilles. It was the perfect spot for women seeking a spontaneous tryst â one that would make their friends in tired relationships jealous. All a guy had to do was whip out a flower at the right moment, or in my case, a pair of tickets to David Mamet's Boston Marriage, at Tampa's Jobsite Theater.
Since couples received a reduced cover, a few of the single ladies pretended to be in relationships with each other. Being the thorough doormen that they are, the bouncers asked girls like E, a local barista, and her friend to prove that they were together. It was a win-win situation. Both single girls got a Valentine's Day kiss, and the doormen didn't feel so lonely standing out in the cold.
âIâm partial to the abstract nudes,â I told St. Pete scenester Brent Bruns Saturday at Nova 535 Art Lounge.Â
âTheyâre also the most pornographic,â Brent said. âYou think thereâs a correlation?âÂ
Iâd be lying if I said I just liked artist Lisa Scholderâs use of color. But thatâs the beauty of a place like Nova. People who know what theyâre looking at can give qualified opinions about the works in the gallery while people like me can disguise our artistic-handicaps while munching hors dâoeuvres, bouncing between one of several bars and rubbing elbows with Bay Area trend setters.Â Â Â Â
The 7,000-square-foot warehouse space hosted more than a thousand people Saturday for its red carpet opening. Inside, unfinished floors accentuated the loud art hung over brick walls. San Franciscoâs DJ Zeph spun, somehow making hip-hop tracks swanky. Patrons elbowed for room as they roamed between the bars and tables loaded with sweets and the crumbled remains of cheese and crackers. It was overwhelming, even for my camera, which literally fried its archaic circuits trying to capture the madness.Â Â
The crowd was so large I kept losing Trini, though this may have been her intent. She had taken a particular interest in the inordinate proportion of attractive men in attendance. Not only was most everyone more attractive than me, they all dressed like they were in a fashion show. The women, most of whom were also taller than me, wore provocative dresses, which I learned could be as short as they wanted and still be considered classy so long as they cost more than my monthly rent. Guys wore suits, but not business-class black and gray, but suits built to accommodate color. I felt like I had stepped into Eyes Wide Shut or a New York warehouse party.Â Â
Peeped the REAX MySpace this morning:
"Shelter from the Alternative?"
Artfully DesignedÂ Distribution Boxes?
A Call forÂ Street Team Members?
WeÂ must be doing something right.
"I read your stuff when I'm using the bathroom," Bobby Sellarole told me. "You look taller in print."
At that moment I knew the fame-bus had arrived to pick me up. My writing had risen from crude jokes written on stall walls to genuine bathroom literature. Next thing you know kidnappers will be clipping my articles to compose ransom notes.
Ego aside, I had a job to do at Skipper's Smokehouse, which in my estimation was to document the action and meet a few women.
"I can't believe you asked to take a picture of the only girl in here without a bra while she hula-hooped," Emma said, criticizing my journalistic ethic.
I wasn't the only one at Skipper's with an eye out for what I liked.
"The dirtier the better," Chrissy Auger said, explaining the appeal of Skipper's and the neo-hippies it attracts.
This isn't to say that Skipper's is exclusively a gypsy outpost. All kinds came out to hear Tim Reynolds & TR3. The dancing deck was flooded with people waggling around like octopuses on land â albeit stoned octopuses.