Paris is burning and I am blushing

As far as sentences go, Meet Paris Hilton at Chemist Warehouse is as good as it gets. Period. It just doesn’t make sense. Paris. Chemist. Hilton. Warehouse. More opposite nouns could not exist, two so proper and two oh so common. I knew as soon as I read it that I would go.

Paris & I have met before, kind of. I saw her on Bondi Beach in 2006, surrounded by a throng of paparazzi and horny teenage boys. She was with Kim Kardashian, who the Daily Telegraph described as Paris’s ‘great friend, stylist and apparently an actress and singer in her own right,’ a claim in which apparently is the only accurate observation. I suppose change is inevitable, except for the Telegraph’s reporting standards, and while Kim is now a household name, Paris is flogging her 24th fragrance – Platinum Rush – at Highpoint Shopping Centre.

Don’t be fooled by the name of the fragrance or the centre. As a scent, Platinum Rush makes no sense, and when it comes to points, an appearance at Highpoint is unquestionably a low point for the both of us, but there we were. Or at least there I was, at 2pm on a Friday, standing in line to meet Paris Hilton at Chemist Warehouse. As far as sentences go, that’s as bad as it gets.

I had no plans to stand in line to see Paris Hilton – not that day, not any day ever – but when I walked past the barricaded area two hours prior to her scheduled appearance a line had already formed. I wondered, was I really going to stand in line for two hours to see Paris Hilton, a person I’ve had no interest in seeing until finding out she was appearing at a chemist? I asked the security guard if it would be busy later.

‘Mate, it’s easy,’ he said. ‘Just line up now, get a photo with a fucking hot chick and then you’re out.’

I couldn’t fault his logistics.

A man named Coco fronted the line. He had been queuing for six hours by this stage and had built a loyal following of 10. I became number 12, taking my place behind a deaf woman whose name I neither knew nor needed. To me, she was and always will be named Eleven, and after a quick smile she pulled out her phone to FaceTime a friend, a friend who was either grossly over or underprepared to see Paris Hilton. He sat topless in his kitchen, a portly belly supporting his large breasts, and he smiled to reveal a missing front tooth. Eleven gave me an opportunity to say hi and I waved to her friend, convinced that he had finished watching Paris’s sex tape moments earlier.

Eleven furiously signed to her friend for what felt like forever. It may well have been forever. Time both stopped and never ended in the line. Seconds, minutes and hours – none of it mattered – the only time I was certain of was time being wasted. I wondered what they were talking about. It’s been 15 years since Paris’s TV show, A Simple Life, first aired, had Eleven been waiting this entire time to meet her? Were they bemoaning Paris and Lindsay Lohan’s failed friendship? Reliving that time Paris tried to mop while on a Segway?

I’m not surprised that the deaf are fond of Paris. Maybe not fond, but more inclined to put up with her than someone with full hearing. I often wonder what it would be like to lose a sense. Not common sense, which had obviously abandoned me and the other 11 people in line, but to lose one’s sight or hearing. I don’t think I’d cope well, but I soon found myself envying Eleven and her lack of hearing. Two speakers blasted out songs from Paris’s 2006 album ‘Paris’ and after a mere hour – or approximately 13 renditions of her cover of Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ – I could think of nothing more enjoyable, nothing more life-enriching, than an eternity spent in silence.

I was broken, sitting cross-legged on the tiles behind the steel bars of the barricades. Nothing and nobody could get out of or into that line except Paris Hilton’s voice and even Coco seemed deflated, knees tucked up to his chest.

‘I’m going to make you feel a whole lot better,’ she sung, lying through her perfect teeth, goading us at every opportunity. Australia has been rightly criticised for its human rights record and I will happily testify that a gross violation took place that afternoon. It was barbaric, a complete indifference to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Forget the boats; we begged for someone to stop the music.

To distract myself I thought back to the first time I watched Paris Hilton’s sex tape. It was 2004 and the school corridors were filled with whispers, with jubilant shouts, that a Paris Hilton sex tape had been leaked, or released rather. We could watch Paris Hilton have sex and that was ground-breaking, a true testament to technology, though I had no idea what Paris having sex would look like. My celebrity fantasies were limited to slow downloads of Jennifer Lopez topless, with more and more being revealed at 34 kilobytes per second until it was revealed, finally, that the pictures weren’t real. But 1 Night in Paris was real. It was real and it was one hour of bliss, not just a porno but a portal, a porthole among other holes, a view of a world I would never know.

It struck me that I had probably seen more footage of Paris having sex than of Paris doing anything else. And then I became nervous. Unbearably nervous. What would I say to her? What could I say to her?  What does anyone say to someone they’ve seen having sex more often than not having sex? What a strange relationship. It’s not even a relationship, it’s just sex. I’ve said that before to people, but never Paris Hilton.

The shopping centre was buzzing as 4pm drew closer. There were maybe a hundred people in line now and Coco – sweet Coco – had found his second wind. I tapped my foot and sung along with ‘Stars Are Blind’, a song I heard more times in that line than in the 12 years since its release. The girls behind me craned their necks, trying to get the first glimpse of Paris, and giggled, unable to comprehend that they were about to meet her. I turned and smiled. I know – how lucky are we?

The level above was packed with people too. They looked down on us but only in their physical position. We were the faithful and we would be rewarded – but not right now. Paris was late, about 20 minutes away, as absent as the fight left in me. Seconds, minutes and an hour passed – but time was measured not by the clock, but by the amount of times ‘Stars Are Blind’ played on repeat. Having spent five hours listening to Paris Hilton songs, I didn’t notice the first four rounds, but after nine – yes, nine – reminders that the stars are indeed blind, I began clawing out my eyes, my ears, my very soul. The Channel Seven reporter in front of me couldn’t hack it and she marched off and left her cameraman alone to capture the chaos, the anarchy, the permeating sense that all was not right in the world and never would be.

And then she arrived.

I thought: holy fuck.

I said: holy fuck.

It’s Paris Hilton. The stars are blind but thank the lord I am not! She’s glorious. As she twirled on stage and knocked over a vase the reason for her lateness became obvious: she must’ve been looking for her underwear. It appeared she was unsuccessful but we didn’t care, we’d seen it all before. I’d seen it all before. And I wanted more. I wanted it all. Give me the perfume. Give me the other 23 too. Let me smell like Paris Hilton in all her forms, three scents for each day of the week and a couple for special occasions. Lather me up in Platinum Rush and Fairy Dust and Dazzle and Siren and let me live goddammit.

The host asked Paris to describe her latest fragrance but she couldn’t. Instead, she told us that it’ll make us sexy and that everyone will want to hook up with us. She’s preaching to the converted. She could’ve said it smelt like rancid bin juice after a housewarming and I would’ve punched the nearest child to get a bottle. I would’ve punched Coco, oh sweet Coco, who was now walking on stage to meet Paris. Motherfucker, I thought, you don’t deserve this. Rage overcame me and I burned like a spray of Platinum Rush to the retina. Fuck you Coco.

And then it was my turn.

I had let a young disabled girl go before me in the line and she spent an exorbitant – an unfair – amount of time on stage. She was showing off her dance moves, consisting of aggressive twerks and a technically flawless split. Paris danced with her, grabbing a microphone to make it clear to all of Highpoint that she loved this girl. And to shout ‘YASSS QUEEN’ repeatedly. Would she say she loved me, I wondered, would she proclaim her love and shout ‘YASSS KING’ as I approached?

No. But she did say she loved my eyes. I said I loved hers though I couldn’t meet them. She held the microphone in a veiny hand that looked to have aged far quicker than the rest of her body, than her face, than her lips, her beautiful lips from which she was speaking beautiful words and it was all broadcast to the crowd but I didn’t care. They didn’t exist, not in my world – our world – in which the capital is Paris and we navigate a seething sea of jealousy together. I asked her to sign a poster for my friends: have an amazing marriage, she wrote, and I thanked her and left.

Away from the crowd the spell was broken. Paris Hilton? I just lined up for five hours to see Paris Hilton? What a waste, I cried, what an utter waste of my day, my life, though I did get a phenomenal wedding present out of it. I complained to friends, complained about how vapid and fake Paris was, how she wouldn’t stop shouting ‘yass queen’ but couldn’t manage a single ‘yass king’ for me. For us.

My friends were empathetic and understood. Not me, but Paris. ‘If I had to deal with millions of people I’d never see again I’d autopilot to yass queen too,’ replied one, while another mentioned that Paris’s own engagement had been broken down that same week. Had I seen her hands shaking as she wished the best for my soon to be married friends? Had a tear tried to roll down her ageless face? I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t be sure of anything except that it’s never A Simple Life for anybody. And while 1 Night in Paris had once been a dream, a grainy vision of an impossible future, one afternoon with Paris was more than enough.

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