Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Which We Dance. For Inspiration.

Memoir Mondays

A few weeks back I wrote a post on Keep in Touch With Mommakin that referred to my first year of grad school as 'Around the World in Eighty Lays'. This prompted my roommate from those days and I to want to relive them through writing a joint memoir. I write a chapter, she adds a 'journal entry' to show the same story through different eyes. At this point I'm referring to it as The Texas Project. I hope to come up with something better soon. Until then, without further ado, Chapter 4 of The Texas Project (subtitle: Around the World in Eighty Lays)

In case you missed something:

In Which I Lose a Love, Make a Friend and Run Away From Home
In Which We Fly to Texas and Uncle Frankie Goes to Hollywood
In Which We Move Into Our Deluxe Luxury Apartment

In Which We Dance – For Inspiration

Terri started taking her classes and I acquired a job at the student union. The school had a small motel and my job was at the information desk. We covered front desk duties at the motel as well as information and check cashing. The best part about my job was the hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 1-9. Sure, it meant I worked weekends. But it also meant I got to sleep in every morning and still watch Days of Our Lives before heading out, and I got off just in time to get ready to head out to the dance clubs. It was ideal for my situation.

It was our habit to go out almost every night. It was a good year for dancing. Madonna had hit her first peak and Prince had arguably hit his highest. Video had killed the radio star, so we practiced our moves with the aforementioned superstars as well as Pat Benatar, Belinda Carlisle and Cindy Lauper. Billy Idol taught us to dance with ourselves and Sheena Easton taught us to strut. We were young and we were – well – let’s just say that the effects of beer, sugar and gravity wouldn’t catch up to us for a few more years. Ok, I’ll say it. We were hot. Not – you know – like – smokin’ unattainable hot. Just the right amount of hot. The sort of hot that tends to get hotter with the advantage of hindsight.

We liked to dance and had gone dancing all the time in college. But this was different. Then we didn’t live together and, well, there was Jeff. Now we were dancing to be noticed, make no doubt about that. We were amazed at how many boys would ask us to dance. Back home, boys never asked us to dance unless it was a slow grind and they thought they might be able to get us to go home with them. Here? Boys asked us to dance because they wanted to dance. Once a boy asked Terri to dance and he was clearly on a date. She said, “What about your girlfriend?”

He answered, as casually as he’d asked her to dance, “She’s a little tired and she doesn’t like this song.” It was clearly ok with her, so Terri danced with him. We were definitely not in Pennsylvania anymore.

We realized that for sure one night when there was a dearth of boys and a song we liked came on and we decided to dance with each other. It’s what we’d always done back home and we sort of enjoyed it. We hadn’t danced with each other in a while. We didn’t realize it at first, but conversations stopped while people turned to look at us and whisper behind their lace gloved hands. A girl dancing with another girl was absolutely unheard of. It was scandalous. We crossed a line that night. As we were not adverse to a little scandal, we filed the information away for future reference.

It was a nice position to be in – thousands of miles from home and there for a finite duration. We didn’t have to worry about what people might think. And oh, what they must have thought from time to time. Young, free, no concerns about reputation, completely independent of anyone to answer to, and living in walking distance of a club. Widespread panic over the fear of AIDS was a few years in the future and every STD we knew about could still be cured with a shot in the ass. Life was good.

Now often, by means of introduction when boys in the club would ask us to dance they would open with, “You a rawker or a keeker?” Yankee translation: “Which do you prefer? Van Halen or Hank Williams Jr.?” Neither Terri nor I could do a two-step at the beginning of that year; by the end we could both hold our own. But it was never pretty. We were rawkers.

Now one fine night, very early in the year, we found ourselves at just such a club having just such an evening. A boy asked me to dance and – Good Lord, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Make that si. Short, dark, built like a wrestler with just the slightest Mexican accent. Ay, baby, come to Mamacita. He was absolutely beautiful. That’s how I saw him then and that’s how I remember him now. It may or may not be accurate. It doesn’t matter. Perception is reality.

I didn’t bother to see if Terri minded if I left her to dance. As I said, there was never really a shortage of boys to dance with. If she wasn’t dancing it was because she didn’t want to. We danced for several songs, screaming brief questions and answers at each other over the throbbing music. I learned that his name was Ronnie. (Not Ron, not Ronald, not Ronaldo. Ronnie.) I learned that he was a junior majoring in engineering. I learned that he could dance. Oh, man, could he dance. As the music slowed, I was dying for a drink, but he pulled me into an embrace. All righty then. That’ll work, too. The smell of our combined sweat, Drakkar Noir, Obsession and Aqua Net should’ve been nauseating, but it absolutely was not. I wanted my pillow to smell like that. I had a feeling in an hour or two it might. As I was thinking this and meeting him grind for grind on the dance floor, I was yanked back to reality by a sharp pain. My hand left his back and went quickly to my neck where – oh my God, he’d bitten me. Maybe that should’ve made me angry. Maybe that should’ve offended me. Neither of those things happened. I couldn’t get this boy home fast enough.

I looked around for Terri and she was slow dancing with a nice looking black man. She had a sort of dreamy look in her eye. Dreamy, horny, I don’t know. I was always getting those two confused. I hated to interrupt her, but if I didn’t leave right then I was afraid I was gonna rip Ronnie’s shirt off right there on the main dance floor. The ripples where the sweat made his shirt cling to his torso were very promising. Delayed gratification was not my forte. I tapped her and jerked my thumb towards Ronnie and then the door. She held her finger up to ask me to wait a minute and whispered something in her new friend’s ear. He nodded and they left the dance floor with me. The four of us somehow made it back to our apartment fully clothed, but only just barely.

Clothes were flying as Ronnie pulled my bedroom door shut. Turns out the dance floor wasn’t the only place he was exuberant. It was – I can’t think of a better word for it – it was fun. He was fun. There was nothing tentative or gentle or romantic about what was going on. We were having fun. Now as you often do when you’re having fun, we started to laugh. We were laughing and skin was slapping and the headboard was banging and – and in a moment of clarity my eyes widened as I realized – Terri and Howard – her new friend was named Howard - could hear every sound. Briefly mortified, I tried to get Ronnie to quiet down. That? Was not going to happen. He was a wild man. He had taken advantage of my brief break by tying one of my scarves around his head, like a pirate. He took a flying leap and let out a war whoop as he came in for round – oh, who the hell could keep track? Arrrrr!

The next morning the boys left early so they could get back to their dorms in time to shower and change clothes before their first class. Terri and I sat at our flimsy kitchen table in our bathrobes not making eye contact.




“Yep, yep, yep.”

“How much could you….?”

“Oh, everything.”


“What the HELL?”

“It was really fun.”

“No kidding!”

“And you? Is it true what they say?”

“You didn’t even ask me that.”

“I might have. I think I did.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“A very satiated idiot.”

“Me too.”

We exchanged ridiculously sheepish grins.

“So it’s true.”


But she couldn’t stop smiling any more than I could.

It was totally true.


  1. Oh my dear, your mispent youth sounds so similar to mine...LOL!
    I wouldn't change it for all the coffee in Seattle!

  2. What's that saying about things being bigger (and better) in Texas? LOL!

  3. Woo hoo! Sounds like a very fun time!