10 May 2010

Unexpected Get-A-Way

Last week at this time I was in Philadelphia with my dear friend Shannon. Previously, I have been in that wonderful city just to see her but I was up there on another task, one that I shamefully did not complete and I feel most terrible about it.
Shortly after our triumph at the Miss'd America Pageant, I began to get offers for gigs with the Red Ribbon Bingo being the most prominent among them. I love doing the bingo and I had always said that once I retired from the grind of performing on a regular basis, I would only do benefits or the rare appearance for a friend to celebrate a birthday or whatnot. I am really not prepared to do anything much more that that.
I gave away a great deal of my costumes and accessories to the newer "girls" once I decided to retire, leaving bags and bags of clothes in the dressing room at the club for everyone to pick over and take with them. When I started out, I was given cast-offs from the reigning performers in Atlantic City and it was a tremendous help when I was so young and green. It's a tradition I was happy to continue with, knowing how hard it is to build a stage wardrobe when you begin. On top of that, my former psycho-mate in the penthouse threw away my entire shoe collection. When I moved out, I had left a few things to pick up at a later date. Unfortunately, being the unstable and unreasoning prick that he is, he simply threw away everything I had left in the flat. Added to this, my living conditions are such that most of the items I own are sitting in a storage locker on the White Horse Pike, packed in there so tightly you couldn't add a penny to it without it busting at the seams. This includes nearly all of the costumes I did not give away which are sealed in boxes and bags and jammed in there, somewhere. So it seems I am hobbled, where my drag career is concerned, by circumstance and history and semi-retirement.
A good friend and promoter, Dan, had asked me, shortly after the pageant, to do an event in Philadelphia and I quickly agreed since I was still on a high from the success of the show. I was ready to accept any offer at that time. I didn't even look to see what it was that I was agreeing to, I just said an emphatic "YES!" and didn't give it a thought for the next few months. Time passed and the day quickly drew near and I had totally forgotten about it. I began to get a few text messages and emails from people, not just Dan but a few friends who heard I was going to be there. I actually panicked a little since I really had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing and now, people were contacting me telling me they were excited that they were going to see me. I had (insanely) hoped that it would just go away but it didn't so I bucked-up and rang Dan to find out what I was supposed to do, exactly.
It was all pretty straightforward, so to speak. I was either going to serve with the waitresses or host with the hostesses at Darling's Diner (http://www.darlingsdiner.com/). I have server/host experience from working at Evo (http://www.evorestaurant.com/) so I figured it would be fairly easy and I told him (and everyone else) I'd be there.
I decided to go to Philadelphia the evening before and Shannon graciously agreed to allow me to stay at her flat. The event was very early in the morning and it would be easier to go across town than to have to come from Atlantic City. I really had nothing to wear. I only had a few costumes from the past two bingo shows and chose two things from them and packed them with the rest of my gear and made my way to to the city. It was rather cool on shore and when I got to Philadelphia, I was amazed at how hot it was up there. The walk from 30th Street Station to Shannon's flat had me drenched in sweat by the time I got there. The humidity was ungodly. I settled in and we had a cock...tail and another friend came by, Anthony, and we sat and chatted all night.
All night.

During the evening, a curious sensation came over me. I was literally getting more and more anxiety about the event. It's normal to get butterflies before a show but I was getting...well...terrified. I couldn't sleep and didn't want to and my friends were nice enough to sit up with me and let me chat their ears off.
I haven't performed in Philly for a long, long time and as we were sitting there chatting, inside I was having a total anxiety attack. It was a thoroughly unsettling feeling. And the time drew closer and closer for me to get ready to leave, I couldn't do it.

I just sat there.

I have never had this feeling before. I was like a deer in the headlights, I couldn't move or decide what to do.

And there I sat. I kept thinking, "I'll just get ready in a few." and that "few" never happened. I even text messaged Dan at one point to tell him I overslept and I was running late but I didn't move from my spot and we kept chatting. My friends were obviously wondering why I wasn't getting ready but I kept giving them the lamest excuses and eventually it got too late and I just went to bed while Shannon went to play a softball game.

I totally froze and blew off the gig. I have never done that before. I am totally embarrassed about it and have avoided all messages from Dan and the others that were anticipating my presence. I feel so lame, I actually came up with some outrageous excuses to tell everyone but the truth, such as it is, is that I had immobilizing stage fright and I couldn't go and be "performer Mortimer". It's truly a sickening feeling.

After resting, Shannon came home (her team won) and we enjoyed the rest of my stay, ordering a pizza that night and watched some movies, curled up in bed together. It was very nice. Never mentioning the fact that I did not do the very thing that was the entire reason that I was there.

Monday morning came and I woke to her eating breakfast and all showered and getting ready. I was a bit perturbed, I thought we'd go to breakfast somewhere and that's when she informed me that she was on her way to work. I totally forgot that it was Monday and that people actually work for a living. While she did her thing, I sat in her place, mindlessly watching telly and playing with her cats, well, the just one of them. Lucky is rather lazy and sleeps every chance he can get. Dust actually builds up on him, he's that lazy. She came home and we went out to eat, finding a cute little restaurant that had al fresco seating and we sat outside, enjoying the wonderful weather in the early evening and having cock...tails whilst waiting for our meal. We had a few questions about the menu and the waitress was very patient with us and we ordered and sat there, laughing and chatting. At one point, curiosity overcame us and we wanted to know where the hell we were. The menu was no clue, there was only a profile of a rabbitpig at the top. Yes, I said "rabbitpig". That's what it was; a half rabbit, half pig silhouette. We looked into the restaurant and there was no clue there. The awning over our heads had nothing written on it. We were perplexed! Confounded! Mystified! We finally broke down and asked the waitron who informed us that the name of the place was "Pub & Kitchen". Clever. Concise. Easy.
Well, the food was amazing, we loved everything we ordered and once we were done, we went back to her place and finally to bed, watching movies until we fell asleep.
The next afternoon, Shannon came home for lunch and made us tuna fish wraps, which were scrumptious. She left me her keys and I got ready and decided to wander to Rittenhouse Square and check things out.

Before I knew it, I not only wandered through Rittenhouse, I went to Independence Hall, the Constitution Centre, Ben Franklin's grave (I always pay my respects when I can), wandered by Prive and the former Revival, ended up on South Street where I walked to Ninth Street and sauntered through my old neighborhood, looking at my former stoop and the apartments of my friends. I strolled through the gayborhood and then finally made it back to Shannon's flat, more than a little exhausted. I didn't plan on taking such a lengthy walk but I was glad I did, the day was perfect, not too hot and a nice breeze was blowing.
She came home and I figured I should go home. I was out of money and I needed to get back and do some stuff at my own house.

I got home and settled in only to have life intrude once again the very next day!

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