The American Idol Finale: Goodbye, Mr. Cowell

No more! There will be no more Idol ever again. Well, not as we know it, anyway. Simon Cowell packed up his boxes last night and, after great fanfare, exited the Thunderdome. Let's do a post-mortem, shall we?

Oh what a night it was! I've come to love our annual Parade Of Old People, even though it is sad and reminds us of our own terrible mortality. It's just good to know that somewhere in this cynical, ironic, PoMo world, someone is still willing to pump up the good time jams and do a little bee-bop-a rockin'. American Idol doesn't care who knows that it's a cheesy bastard. It revels in being a cheesy bastard. American Idol is the cheesiest bastard you have ever met, unless you have been planning a wedding or something and have had to audition DJs. Other than that, American Idol is the person from our yearbook class most likely to get funky with Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, the surviving members of Chicago, and the surviving parts of Brett Michaels in the same night. No, you did not travel back into terrible '80s time! That is really who performed on a TV show for teens last night, in 2010! It is always fun to listen to a theater full of a thousand teenagers collectively not understand.

Janet Jackson showed up, which was nice. It was like when you are at a party with a bunch of people who you don't know and just don't get and then all of a sudden your elusive old friend shows up and you feel rescued, glad to have someone to commiserate with until she disappears again, and you do not see her again for years. That was Janet Jackson last night, done up in her Fantasia suit, looking svelte and impossibly young-ish. Let's hope her days of slumming it in Tyler Perry pictures are past her. Somebody put this woman in Nutty Professor 3!

Last night was also a Cavalcade Of Idols, bringing back 7 of the past 8 Idol winners. There was Kelly and Carrie and Ruben and Fantasia and the other three... you know, those ones. Taylor Sparks and Hicks McGee and beautiful piece of toast Kris Allen. Who doesn't love Kris Allen? Everyone loves him. How could you not? He looks like anime but he's real and sings songs! It's a shame that his sheer existence has murdered and melted all of Japan's dwindling teenage girl population, but them's is just how the breaks work. It was nice to see everyone back again! Obviously David Cook died in that bus accident, so he wasn't there, but David Archuleta was sporting a beautiful, elaborate "R.I.P" cholo tattoo across his back in remembrance. Yes Archie was there! So many former Irdolstinx contestants were there. There was Ace Young, sporting a beautiful flowing mane and, I guess, taking a night off from Hair on Broadway. (This is a serious thing that Ace Young and Broadway have decided to do together.) His Hair costar Diana DeGarmo was there, too. And so was my beloved Melinda Doolittle, and Kristy Lee Cook, and Daniel Johns, and Smokestack Rubenstein, and Fiddlesticks Filmore, and Hapjacks Wapplewood. Oh wait. Sorry. I was reading from the roster of the most recent North American Hobo Dignitaries Convention. But you get the point. Lots of people were there. Why were they there?

They were there to say goombye to Simon de Beauvoir, the most important Idol judge in the long and illustrious history of Idol judges. Yes, Colonel Wedgehair is leaving us, finally forsaking America and hopping back on his wooden tall ship and sailing for England. Rumor has it that he'll come back on another New World mission with X Factor stowed ominously in the cargo hold, but we don't have to worry about that now. For now all we have to focus on is that he's left Idol and he will never be on it again. Well, one should never say never. After all, a former judge did show up last night. YES. Perla Arbordool stumble-heeled onto the stage and did her classic comedy routine. Who doesn't love Paula Abdul's patented comedy routine? She's famous for it! Her "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" was stolen by Bill Cosby! Only her "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" is about waking up one morning behind a Marie Calendar restaurant, not giving kids dessert food instead of cereal. But anyway. She slurred out some words about things and everyone nodded their heads and said "Okayy..." and then Perla was like "You knowwhy therealreason issss I left? Hm? Do ya? [hand fitz (look it up)] Well, I'm not gonna tell ya except Simon there's ababynextdoor I mean backstage who needs feeding and it'syourturn." The implication of this was that Paula Abdul left the American Idol show because Simon Cowell made sex to her and a baby was made. Which is... Basically a drunk garden snail publicly addressed a lesbian British dwarf and said "Remember that time we fucked?" and then expected all of us to laugh instead of fall dead to the floor, faces frozen forever in looks of abject terror.

So that was that. Paula gurgled for a while longer and they rolled a clip reel of Simon berating the strange and mentally infirm and we all clapped and said a soft "Yayyyyy, insults" and Simon was loaded into a canon and shot off through the roof into the night. Goodbye, Simon! Ryan waved after him for a long while, remembering the love he'd once had for him that was now over, and finally turned to the tear stained audience and said "It is important that we get on with the business of living. So, let us reward a winner."

Oh yes! That was the whole point of this episode. There were two people, name'a Crystal Murderlox and Your Cousin Phil Dweezy, waiting to see which one of them had won the illustrious title of Idol Season 9 Winner-Loser. The audience held their breath. You could hear a pin drop. Nude Tim Urban scooted up to the edge of the bed, closer to the television, satin sheets barely covering him. In Vonore, Tennessee the crickets chirped and the cars rolled by. Ryan took a long pause. He was so very tired, but it was almost over. It almost was. He opened the envelope, read the words carefully to himself. Aha. Here we go. Another one bites the dust. He looked up at the two contestants, their heads down, eyes shut, the quiver of a moment dancing around them. They're just kids, Ryan thought. Let them down easy. Let them enjoy this. When the silence had reached its zenith, he took a deep breath and in a steady, booming voice, the best he had, his moneymaker, he said "And the winner is... "

stars gleamed, trains rumbled, hearts beat, animals roared, airplanes seared the sky

"...YOUR COUSIN PHIL!!!!!!!!!"

And the audience went nuts, blowing up all over each other, goo and tears soaking the seats. Little girls punched each other right in the face and laughed and cried as blood poured out of their mouths. They were so happy. They were so happy for soul-patched, pudgy Phil. Oh heavens they were happy. Ryan was so happy he didn't care who heard him when he yelled "Timmy baby, I'm comin' home!!" Crystal was perhaps the happiest of all, knowing that she was only trapped for one tortured summer, no longer. Phil was... Phil was stunned, thunderstruck, awed and cowed. This does not happen to Phil. This never happens to Phil Dweezy. The Phil Dweezys of the world watch the paint cans shake forever, they drive a series of dying cars, they enjoy beer in backyards, kids playing dumbly, watching the pine trees bend in the wind. Phil Dweezy does not win popular gay singing competitions. Only now, they do. Oh Phil they do! And it's no surprise, really. As I told The Toledo Free Press (I'm an "Entertainment Figure"!), Crystal was a better musician and singer, but she didn't have the Idol oomph the same way Phil did. He's the hapless hangdog, the success story we like to give to strangers. "Here you go, here's this, this thing we'll never have ourselves, but here, enjoy it, it's for you, from us." That is why Phil won. Because he was easier, more sympathetic. Crystal was there before the show started. Phil got there on the show. If we're judging our own science fair, how can we not give the blue ribbon to our own science project? Go Phil, it's your birthday. Just remember that everything is disappearing, always.

And that, as they say in the biz, is that. Farewell, Idol! Farewell, readers! It is fun and funny that you've all come and read these things TWO TIMES A WEEK for the past six and half years that this season has been on. So thank you for doing that! It would be terribly lonely to sit down all bleary eyed and type this all down just for myself. It is nice to have someone to share in the glittery misery. Thank you! Join me next season for The X Factor or whatever the fuck I'll be watching. (I'll be dead.) Enjoy your summers.

And you enjoy your summers too, everyone from Idol. Ha ha ha, it was so funny last night when the show ended. Everyone went to a big bright party. Everyone went to a big bright party and they were all wearing white and they were all hugging. There were all our former contestants. Lacey hugging Paige, telling her some secret story. Andrew Garcia bee-bopping in a corner with Michael Lynche, these two terrible pals. Katie Stevens stood alone by the punch bowl, feeling lonely, feeling unloved, feeling young. But then little Aaron Kelly walked up and playfully punched her arm and she laughed and patted his head and they talked about teenage things and they smiled and they did not know, they did not know what was coming, they did not know what was next, but it was OK. It was OK to not know.

At the party everyone danced and sang and drank fizzy champagne (even Aaron! it was OK just that one time) and eventualy it came time to leave. Didi Bikini giving everyone big watery hugs, kissing people's cheeks and telling them "I'll see you soon, honey." Katelynn Epperly waved a quiet goodbye and walked out into the buzzing Los Angeles night, knowing that other opportunity awaited her somewhere. Somewhere. Crystal stayed late, dancing in slow circles with the baby, its little chubby fingers reaching up toward the lights, trying to grab the disco ball's spots. Crystal felt peaceful for a moment, for the first time in a long, long while. Thank god, she thought. For what she wasn't sure.

And Phil called his mom, his mother Karen, and she was so happy on the phone. "I can't wait to call your aunt!" Phil chuckled, knowing how those two could get on the phone, and he told her thank you for being there, thank you for being nice. And your Aunt Karen grew quiet on the phone and said "Always, honey. Absolutely always." She made a kissing noise and then Phil hung up. Randy sauntered up behind him and said "Yo yo yo, ready to hit the aftah partyyyyy??" and Phil shrugged his shoulders. Sure, what the fuck. "Welcome to groupietown, son! Population: you! And me, dawg. And me too. C'mon, let's go get 'em wet." And so they did. Cousin Phil did. It's OK. Don't worry about it. He'll be fine.

Simon and Ryan were the last ones left at the party, sitting at a table over long glasses of wine, reminiscing, joking, saying a slow goodbye. "Well," Simon finally said, looking at his watch. "I think it's about time to turn in." Ryan smiled, a weary crease. "Yeah..." Simon put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey. It's been a trip, huh?" Ryan nodded. "It has. It really, really has." They sat in silence for a moment. The event staff was stacking chairs on the tables around them, breaking down the stage. "Anyway," Ryan sighed. "You won't forget your bag?" Simon looked down at Paula curled up and passed out on the floor. "No," he said, bending to pick her up, "I've got it." Ryan laughed. "OK then, old buddy. See ya when I see ya." They hugged, patted backs. Simon walked out with Paula slung over his shoulder, the door slamming behind him, and then he was gone. Just like that.

Ryan stood watching after him for a while, then dug for his phone in his pocket, dialed a number. In the sleepy, sleek Hollywood Hills mansion, Tim answered the phone, groggy. An unopened bottle of champagne and two glasses sat on the nightstand. "Hey baby, I thought you'd be home earlier." Ryan shook his head, though he knew Tim couldn't see it. He suddenly felt lost in time, in the rush of months and years. How fast it all went. How terribly quick a life in this world is. But at least there was the voice on the other end, his love, his forevermore. Maybe that was enough. And, hell, there was always next season.

"I'm almost there," he said quietly into the phone, his eyes closed. "I'm coming home right now." And on his way home he could see the stars, the real stars, the ones old and elemental, beaming above him. They travel millions of miles every night. They could be dead already. We just don't know it yet.

The End!