Swelter 33

And throughout, all manner of interesting people. George Robinson of the United Nations, full of the 411 on the Arab world. Andrew Elson of England, going over Everest on a balloon, and "smacking the mountain with some authority" at one point. Joe Kittinger, known for having broken the sound barrier with his body during a parachute jump. And at the awards banquet in Amman, a moment with Queen Noor: "I'm glad we could seduce you all into visiting our beautiful country. We knew you would enjoy the special spirit here."

Back in Miami, jet-lagged and spiritless, grasping at romantic forged-in-the-desert epiphanies, the eternal delusion of beginning anew. Removed and alienated from the social whirl, like Peter O'Toole stumbling into the officers' club in Lawrence of Arabia, dreamy-eyed from what T.E. Lawrence called "a processional way greater than imagination." On to the usual rounds. "Nothing Sacred," a fashion show/benefit for the AIDS-care center Broward House at the Design Center of the Americas, featuring commentary by Rod Stafford Hagwood of the Sun-Sentinel and a star turn by hometown drag legend Kitty Meow. A Miami Book Fair party at The Marlin, Tama Janowitz of The Male Cross-Dresser Support Group over it all: "I'm always so tired; I have to be in bed by 9:30." An impromptu book fair dinner at I Tre Merli, with the relentlessly American Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller: "Growing up in Connecticut, I was a townie boy -- none of those college girls, with all their peasant skirts and yeast infections, would fuck me." More parties, more agitation, and the long, greased-pole slide downhill begins, the descent to trashy behavior and the parade of pointlessness. The changes wrought in alien lands never quite take hold.

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