The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, May 22, 2009, Columns

SAD BUT TRUE I'd have thought that it would be a breeze after being away from my computer for so long. But no such luck. I wish I could say that my sabbatical to India had been glorious and refreshing ... but I didn't go to India. Nor was I at my hairdresser's getting extensions that took a really long time. I haven't been anywhere. Except out for an occasional night on the town when my social obligations demanded it. The truth is that I've been ill in body and spirit. The scary "C" word has popped back up – last year the blood tests showed an encouraging drop, and I virtually forgot all about being sick. But emotionally and spiritually, my condition did not drastically improve. This year? The number is higher than ever, and I am indeed beginning to have alarming symptoms. Damn. How the hell am I supposed to make that funny?

PHOEBE & ME I did the unmentionable thing – loaned my iPhone (whom I had named Phoebe after the character in All About Eve) to a friend and – voilà! – it was lost. My iPhone! My constant companion! My anchor! My lifeline! I was bereft. After a weekend without communication or entertainment, the iPhone mysteriously appeared back in the hands of my friend. Mysterious indeed, but I was too happy to see ol' Phoebe to question what happened. After that, Phoebe and I spent a lot of "alone" time together, reacquainting ourselves and reveling in how perfect our relationship was. Life was good until the following weekend, when I went to Jordan Herman and David Porter's lake house for Splash at Hippie Hollow. I'd selected two chic bathing ensembles for myself (Phoebe likes to go au naturel), and we headed for the boat. Phoebe was as excited as I was – so excited that she slipped out of my pocket and landed on the sidewalk under my foot, which proceeded to smash her glass into tiny fragments. Phoebe! Omigod! You're cracked! But aside from the broken glass, she still seemed to work okay. I figured a few hours out on the boat would make her feel better, so we continued out to the marina, with Phoebe safely buttoned up in the pocket of Bathing Ensemble No. 1 (black-and-gold metallic board shorts coupled with a black polo and black sandals, topped off with a large straw sun hat and jeweled Vulgari sunglasses. I mean Bulgari. Sorry). Phoebe and I kept to ourselves; she was wounded but not fatally, and I gave her considerable attention to make sure she was still functional. Then I slipped her back into my pocket for a little nap. Several Jell-O shots later, I'd warmed up enough to consider taking the plunge, so, preening like Esther Williams before a spectacular swan dive, I entered the water with a splash ... just as I remembered that Phoebe was asleep in my pocket. With the skill of a Navy SEAL, I unbuttoned my pocket underwater and fished out Phoebe. She was lifeless. A quick push of her power button gave no response. "Phoebe!" I screamed at her. "Phoebe, wake up! It's Daddy!" Again, no response. So I handed her over to a pair of outstretched arms on the boat, fishing myself out of the water next. With tears mingling with the water from my hair, I held her close and prayed. She remained unresponsive, so I solemnly put her out to dry. Everything after that was just a blur. I recall trudging back to the lake house from the marina – a seemingly endless trek. Later, when it appeared that she was dry enough to try again, I pushed her power button. The Apple logo appeared, then it turned various colors, lines went through it, and it blinked off. I wept bitter tears over Phoebe's fate – So young! So pretty! So useful! – otherwise thrilled at my triple crown of iPhone mishaps: breaking it, getting it wet, and losing it altogether. I swear I'll never get that close to a phone again. Any phone. Until another Phoebe comes along, anyway.

IN OTHER NEWS The new fund for performance art, testperformancetest (, founded by the irresistibly dynamic Julie Thornton, held a party during the Fusebox Festival. Damn, that woman knows how to throw an unforgettable party... We attended the Mobile Loaves & Fishes event, Uncorked, at the Exotic Game Ranch. It does wonderful work for the community, including helping out on the coast after Hurricane Ike. Bravo to ML&F... Later that night was the Art Ball. The usual glitterati were there, and after I managed to haul myself out of bed and get dressed, I went and had a fabulous time – kind, carefree, and fun like the old days. Interestingly, I hung out with Robin Rather at the Mobile Loaves & Fishes event earlier in the evening and visited with her father, Dan Rather, at the Art Ball. Small world, yes?

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