Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Mime Misty For Me
Every once in a while, I dream about mimes.
I don't sleep all that much these days. I blame a clinical trial of a new, superpotent version of Red Bull containing trace amounts of ephedrine and scads of metamphetamines, but that is neither here nor there. I don't like mimes, I can't recall ever meeting anyone who likes mimes, so wasting precious dreamtime that could otherwise be more productively spent on say, a TJ Hooker/Fall Guy-era Heather Locklear/Thomas and a nocturnal emission, makes me a little resentful.
If these mimes resembled a delectably talcum-powdered Gisele silently acting out all of the poses of the unabridged Kama Sutra, then maybe I would be able to look the other way. Alas, the mimes that haunt my repose like Freddy Krueger in the early career of Johnny Depp are all the of the classical, beret wearing, pulling-mock-ropes-and-groping-unseen-walls ilk. This does not please me.
When I finally managed to get some much-needed sleep after a particularly spicy bender this weekend with the help of a bottle of Glenfiddich and some elephant-grade barbituates, there were mimes.
This would not stand. I needed to exorcise the reverse-minstrel demons from my REM cycles once and for all.
I headed to the Southern California hotbed of mime "culture," Venice Beach. A wrong turn taken years ago in search of a legendary falafel stand/tattoo parlor had instead placed me smack-dab in the middle of Invisible Box, a mime bar (and, strangely, also the name of a Latino tranny bar on the East Side of LA). I returned there with a chip on my shoulder the size of a Ten Commandment tablet and a boombox loaded with the cast recording of Motown B-sides by the runners-up of the first American Idol.
It was quiet.
I blared the boombox. It took only the first four bars of that Justin kid with the fucked-up hair yelping "I Feel the Earth Move" for the bleached street performers to know that I meant business. The next four bars sent most of them clutching their ears and scattering out onto the sun-scarred promenade.
Three remained. One picked up an imaginary drink from the bar, gestured a huge swig, and dramatically wiped his lips with the back of a white-gloved hand before slamming the glass silently against the wall.
"Ride a unicycle in a hail storm," I spit. "With no umbrella and an armload of groceries."
He began something that involved a pedaling motion with his feet, but after five seconds of teetering, collapsed in a heap. He retired to a back room with his head exaggeratedly low-hung.
The second stepped up, swinging his hips like a gun fighter at thirty seconds to high noon.
"A parapalegic in a straightjacket slowly picking one thousand padlocks with a twisty straw."
A glimmer of dread twitched across the small, black tears stenciled under each of his eyes. He dutifully laid on the floor and got to the business of freeing himself of his pantomime shackles. He was going to be busy for a while.
There was but one mime left. His back was to me, never even attempting to watch his compatriots flail away at my challenges.
"You're next," I said.
Without turning to meet my dare, he reached slowly, deliberately for his beret, peeling it from his head like the skin from an orange. Waves of curly brown hair tumbled around surprisingly delicate shoulders. The mime spun around and faced me.
A she-mime. A gorgeous one. I hadn't counted on this. I put the boombox down on the floor beside me and swallowed hard.
She stared at me until I could feel my stomach burning, arching a penciled-on eyebrow when I blinked first.
She smirked and started to turn back to the bar.
I had it.
"Not so fast."
She turned back to me.
Her upper lip quivered almost unnoticably.
Was it excitement, apprehension, defeat, triumph in the lip-quiver that immediately followed?
I don't know. Maybe she wasn't that accomplished a mime.
I do know that "Love" entailed the use of a barstool, the top of the bar, the side of a jukebox that hadn't scraped needle against vinyl for years, the felt surface of a pool table with no cues and no balls, black clothes with zippers and buttons lost to passion, whiteface makeup streaked from sweat, and a truly horrible rendition of "The Locomotion."
I do know that at the moment of truth, even a mime will scream your name.
I didn't get her name.
I can't read lips.
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[This piece is being simulcast at Bob from Accounting]