Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: we have a new King!, Katy Perry plus JLo is the interaction of my awkward dreams, and Mitch McConnell: drug lord.
Okay, I'll bite. What is Restoration Hardware? I'm sure I must have known the name before yesterday and known, vaguely, that it was a fancy furniture store but I was absolutely unprepared for what waited for me behind the doors of the four-story building that looks like a chic but haunted hotel in New Orleans circa 1997. I honestly thought Restoration Hardware was a place that restored old stuff and made it look fancy but also distressed ("fancy but also distressed" is how I describe myself to new acquaintances. I'm like a Roy Lichtenstein painting of a Cathy cartoon. Little thought bubble that said "Ack!" That kind of thing. Art.) I thought Restoration Hardware was where everybody was getting all these barn doors they keep installing on their walls and making into tables and headboards and stuff. It's like, okay, we get it, you're Anne of Green Gables. The only draw back to this interior design plan is that when you say to your kids "Why are are you acting like that? Were you raised in a barn?" They then respond, "Well, yes." To quote my girl Cathy, "Ack!"
I'm not sure how I ended up at Restoration Hardware, actually. Which seems to always be the narrative. "I rode my horse into the barn and before I knew it the McGlinchey brothers were jumping down off of the ledge and surrounding me, asking me about Old Miss Gertie's buried treasure and then Finn McGlinchey, the youngest and meanest of the bunch, hit me with a bale of hay and I woke up on this very low, very deep ecru couch in a suburban Restoration Hardware." You know the deal.
My intention was to go clothes shopping. A hat, that kind of thing. Can I wear a $6,000 lamp? Yes, but it will not flatter my figure so why would I? A thing happened yesterday morning that hurt my feelings and made me feel bad about myself so I decided that I would solve all my internal problems with external solutions! Like an adult. I'm in Nashville for two weeks where the fashion game is very much on point and I feel comfortable wearing a cravat like Antoni on Queer Eye, which is definitely not something I feel comfortable doing in Baltimore. So, I went on Twitter and solicited some recs for places to go fill my emotional baggage. People gave me some places in an area called The Gulch (that's where Old Miss Gertie hid her treasure, but don't tell the McGlinchey boys). And then a woman named Sissy tweeted that I should visit a place in an area called Green Hills and then stop by Parnassus Books, where she's a bookseller. I had been wanting to visit Parnassus for a long time and so a specific invitation with the added incentive that someone who knew me from the internet would be there was too much to pass up.
So, then I had to get dressed. I was planning on just throwing on a polo or something from my "Depressed Dad Going Through a Contentious Divorce" collection but now that I knew someone would see me, I had to put in some work. I have been dressing much more fancified and high-ciddity since I've been in Nashville. One, because I like to actually turn a look but I don't like people saying rude things to me in public, so I only do it in cities with a boisterous queer community or a bunch of aspiring country/western singers. Two, I am practicing for my book tour which I am imagining as being a cross-country Met Gala where I read selections and make comments about the local chicken & waffle selections (note: I apparently don't know what a book tour is! Ack!
As I tied a hot pink necker-chief on I thought back to my favorite scene from the movie Soapdish, where Sally Field's character, a soap opera star who's been replaced by a younger actress, is feeling bad about herself, so she puts on a turban and big sunglasses and then goes to the mall with her friend, played by Whoopi Goldberg. Sally then makes Whoopi pretend to be a fan who recognizes her, shouting out her name and causing a frenzy of actual fans and thereby solving all of Sally's problems with the greatest of medications: attention. I think about this scene all of the time. I never never felt more represented on film. Was I going someplace for the express purpose of being recognized? No. But would it hurt if it happened? Also no. In the end, I met Sissy, who was a delight, took a picture, saw a dog who was also wearing a pink neckerchief, listened to a book tour talk by another author (learning!) and bought Tara Westover's book (which has a stunning cover with some truly brilliant details that Sissy pointed out to me). A wonderful day!
And then I wandered over to Restoration Hardware, a store that does not have a checkout counter but does have a host stand. Everyone was eating and drinking wine. I got concerned I'd walked into someone's house. Every room was empty like the Eyes Wide Shut party had just ended. Everyone in the store was very nice and they kept encouraging me to sit on things and buy wine. So I did. There were no coasters. Suspicious. I grew fairly certain that if I drank enough wine and sat on enough sofas, a goblin would appear out of the woodwork with an earpiece and a catalog and inform me that unless I answered a riddle correctly, I would be turned into a sectional or something equally stressful. A coat r-Ack! Furniture cannot wear fancy clothes or read books, so I went up to the nearest expensive lamp and whispered "I politely decline." And next thing you know, I was back on the barn floor, the McGlinchey brothers were nowhere in sight, and Old Miss Gertie was standing in the place where the barn door used to be before those marauding designers in muted colors came through and made off with it. "Ya done good," Old Miss Gertie said, hitching her shotgun up on her thigh. "And that's a mighty fine kerchief you've got there."
This week, Mitch McConnell is guest-starring on Narcos, Lady Gaga won the Met Ball, and Katy Perry plus JLo equals magic. But first, a KING!
I am very pleased to announce that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex and Princess of America, has given birth to The Royal Baby™ and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me, an American who has never met her. Congratulations to me, especially, a childless person in the United States who could not identify Windsor Castle on a map and yet is still very excited to have a new King. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Katy Perry is so camp she has a lake and a three-legged race and a flagpole which frequently has a prankster's underwear on it; she's so camp she's sponsored by REI; she's so camp Susan Sontag's ghost called on a phone shaped like a pair of lips just to say "Yes, this. Sure. Okay, I gotta go. Please do not summon me again. I am very busy." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Well, the day finally came. I had to sit my young, impressionable, highly vaccinated children down, and explain to them why Mitch McConnell is encouraging a casual relationship with Schedule II narcotics. The Senate Majority Leader is selling reelection shirts with his alter ego "Cocaine Mitch" on them like he's an edge lord with a VistaPrint coupon. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Lady Gaga showing up to an event and then immediately taking off her clothes for fashion reasons is exactly the energy I'm trying to manifest at every social gathering from now on. "Thanks for inviting me to your wedding! Before you walk down the aisle, I'm going to just do a quick little prance in my underwear. As a gift to you. It's called taste; look it up." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
In the new trailer, Mary Louise sets her sight on ex-daughter-in-law Celeste Wright, played by Nicole Kidman. She casually accuses Celeste of leaving out crucial information about Perry's death and then, like Hercule Poirot with a bob and a sweater from Ann Taylor Loft, she drops the hammer. "You learned of his infidelity just 10 seconds before he died," she purrs. And then, with a dramatic sigh she says, "Ohhh, you left that out too."
"GASP!" Celeste's bangs whisper. "GASP!" I scream. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Let's Hang Out
Nashville: May 17 - Final public reading of my new play, Crying On Television, part of Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Festival. I am so proud of this one. It's very funny, it has a huge heart, and the cast is extraordinary. If you're in the area, please come out!
Seattle: May 23 at Benaroya Hall - Hosting The Moth Mainstage
Random Thing on the Internet
There is an entire novel in this tweet and it makes my heart so happy.