it goes against my instinct to get between a person and a good time. just cuz i'm the token sober asshole, it shouldn't make me the party referee who's expected to blow the whistle if shit gets out of control. i'm not the sanity guard, the bad cop or the mommy who's gonna verbally spank you when you go one toke over the line. nope.

i'm not the one, babygirl.

i've got more games than parker brothers.

what i like best is to be an audience. i want to watch everything unfold, in real time, with my real eyes. i may silently judge but i have no desire to police anyone's behavior except for my own.

i like to roll up to the party like the crazy 88s. it feels good to walk in slow motion. it's fresh to hang back. TRUE's the firecracker--the scene stealer. don't let her fool you with that shyeyes crap. you put a few in her and she's all over the place, lighting up the room like a dancing torch. everything flickers--there's a pleasant dizziness, like it's raining confetti.

meanwhile, i'm playing the part of the introverted dyke-perv. i head for the wall and smoke cigarettes with my fucked up hand shoved deep in the silk-lined pocket of my handmade jeans. i'm sporting a thrift store wool blazer with a retarded, striped college-nerd pattern and my drugstore blond hair that's a greasy mess like it got hit with a blender and my faker eyeglasses with the thick-ass tortoise shell frames that i don't know why i'm still wearing, as i don't need glasses and they give me headaches.

what i really want is a mask.

and cameras for eyes...

i'm there for her for all the lonely parts, after everyone else has gone home after doing all her drugs and spending all her money. her iPod plays one of her thousands of mixes, while she sits at the desk, regarding the monitor with a thousand yard stare. phil ochs sings about tapes from california, his optimistic, jazzed out sound blending perfectly with "They Reminisce Over You",--the pete rock, c.l. smooth joint that played previous.

"i'm using tentacles made out of search phrases to psychically feel my way across the internet," she said, dribbling ash on the keyboard like a zombie.

"this is a great mix," i said, sliding a cigarette out of her pack.

"it's about riding out a vibe," she said, then she hit a gigantic water pipe that looked like something out of one of the Alien movies.

"the mix?"

"nah--the internet...but the mix too...everything is, in away..." she started coughing, reluctantly. you could tell from the deep, aggressive sound of it that it had been a long day. she let her hand drop heavily into her lap. it seemed that even the smallest action exhausted her.

but then, suddenly, she came to life and spun around in the swivel chair, completely excited.

"im the innernet visionary. i'm going to feel my way, link by link, till i get to the chewy tootsie roll center of it all."

"sounds great," i said.

"i'm serious, sterling."

"hey, you know how much i like chewy centers."

"for real," she turned back to face the screen.

"i'm going to like, free associate, let the rhythm guide me, or else a sea of strangers' hands, like crowd surfing or dreaming..."

she started clicking around, going from one site to another, pausing only long enough to quickly scan part of the page and click on a link. on some sites the click was immediate and on others it took a few minutes before she found something that fit.

"it's like that french couple who snapped all those pix of the tsunami, as it came crashing towards them on the beach. they didn't surivive and neither did their camera but the memory card was scooped up by someone. first there are your usual beach scene shots...children playing, europeans in their thongs...then one notices the tidal pools revealed in the foreground, where the tide has dramatically receded. and then comes the series of pix in which you can see the wave getting closer and closer to where they stood on the shore--so close in fact that in the last one i think i actually saw the chaotic intent in the white foam spray, word is bond..."

"how is what you're doing like that?" i said, softly, as i stepped up and stood beside her at the desk, resisting the urge to call her 'sweetheart' in a baby voice and place my hand on her shoulder.

"cuz if you put all these web pages together you'll get the whole picture about the path i took...you'll see what i saw, read what i read, be effected by that which effected me, but all the while i'll be more invisible than ever before, like the french couple who were swept out to sea."

she reached over and poured herself a shot of belvedere and knocked it back.

"but just cuz i'm invisible doesn't mean i'm not here," she said, licking her lips.

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