Lounge Addicts

Wanna see members of the Rat Pack buy drinks for wannabe supermodels? Check out The Merc.

"Just charm the mom, and you're in," says Jett. "You know from your job that it's all about the women."

"That's true," he concedes. "At least at The Merc Bar, it's all about the women. The men are just here to pay for the drinks."

"Tell me about it," I grouse. "Who do you think picks up the tab for everything Tara Reid here gulps down?"

Jett grinds her lovely heel into my big toe and pulls me away from Carson and Farah, P.O.'d that I'd embarrassed her alkie ass. We then bump into Edward Cota, a handsome fella in a white shirt, silvery silk tie, and black suit jacket --very Rat Pack. He's president of a venture capital/political consulting firm called the CK Consulting Group, and he explains that he just got out of a Democratic fund-raising-type event at the Arizona Biltmore.

"I was there on behalf of one of my candidates," relates the 20-something powerbroker. "Don Harris. He's running for Maricopa County Attorney as a Democrat."

"Very cool," I say. "Did you see that Fahrenheit 9/11 flick?"

"Awesome film!" he answers. "The truth will set you free."

"Yeah, unless you're Martha Stewart," cracks Jett. "So why are you here tonight?"

"The Merc Bar is a great place to be seen and to meet people," he shrugs, taking a quick swig of his Jack and Coke. "They've got great drinks, and it's a nice, clean environment if you wanna have a good time and relax."

"Not too clean, I hope," says Jett. "I'm still lookin' to score tonight."

I shake my head. "Sorry, Ed. This gal's got a one-track mind."

"And right now, the track is leading me to that lesbian foursome over there," she says, gazing over to one corner. "Come on!"

We head over to where four lovelies are seated on couches and chairs, close to each other, but, unfortunately for Jett, both pairs are in committed relationships. Seems they've all come from the same event as Cota. One is Devin Rankin, deputy finance director of the Arizona Democratic Party. She's a blonde gal with glasses who's holding hands with her date, a brunette named Jennifer Schiltz, a software developer. Both are late-20-to-early-30-somethings.

"I dig your Kerry button," I tell Rankin. "What do the polls have Bush and Kerry at in AZ, 50-50?"

"It's ridiculously close," says Rankin. "You're going to see both Kerry and Bush out here on a regular basis for the rest of the campaign."

"There's nothing I like more than the idea of licking bush," says Jett, her tongue wagging.

"Some people think of Arizona as a conservative backwater, but you watch, we're gonna start winning a lot of races," says Rankin.

"I know, I just moved here six months ago, and I'm impressed how liberal people are in the PHX," I comment. "And of course, there's a big gay population, too."

Rankin nods. "We just elected an openly gay Native American up in a rural district in this state: Representative Jack Jackson Jr., the first openly gay Native American politician in the country!"

"And Phoenix has openly gay state senators, like Ken Cheuvront," I add. "And, of course, we have a gay governor."

"Kreme!" yells Jett. "We're not going to talk about that!"

"I think she's denied that, actually," says Rankin.

"It's really cool to have a gay guv, even if she's not out," I exclaim. "Though, I guess she is a bit of a mullet . . ."

The conversation doesn't last long, and Jett's furious with me.

"You really know how to stick your fat foot in it," she swears as we amble back to the bar.

"Sheesh, everyone's so sensitive in this town," I reply.

"Buy me another stiff one, Mr. Big Britches, so I can try to forget what a dork you are."

This I do, and soon we're partying with this handsome group of guys and gals; a couple of them are on break from waiting tables at the coolest restaurant in the AZ, Durant's. I fall madly in love with Julie Daniels, this tall beauty with short, pixie-ish black hair. She's wearing a slinky, ink-hued dress that could pass for her second skin. Though I've got no chance with a honey like this, Daniels takes pity on me and puts her arm around my shoulders.

"You know, you look just like one of my best friends from high school," she tells me.

"Was he a great lover?" I ask, blowing it for the umpteenth time this evening.

"Uh, I wouldn't know. We never got out of the friends-zone," she tells me.

Sigh . . . "That, and pissing off lesbians, seems to be the story of my life."

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