Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dancing With Goddesses

Curled in the little seat like a fox in a den, rediscovering myself red eyed awakening in the wailing, squealing, hissing cacophony of the early morning flight into Charlotte. The carnivorous winds outside are jet stream gales split by hurtling machinery shouldering through at hundreds of miles an hour; jostling and joggling us like characters in a fairy tale blown along by powerful spirits released from a magic bottle by a naïve girl.

I check my watch glow and try to go back to sleep. Three hours to go still. But I keep thinking.

One by one we’d wandered into the pool area of the Golden Keys Hotel like animals gathering around a watering hole. We were all drinking coffee and some of us nursing headaches. My wife and kid sidled up with little styrofoam bowls of cheerios and bagels from the free breakfast. We all looked like unmade beds.

“You know that was exactly the kind of party your dad would have loved," said Lavonne, my step mom.

"He’d have boogied all night." said Sharon. Sharon is one of Lavonne’s band mates. The other one, Beth, wasn't up yet. I finally got to hear Lavonne's rock n roll band, "The Wildcats", perform on stage last night at the wedding party. They careened through three songs they’d written. They were fantastic. If I’d been single I’d have signed up to be a groupie.

"He was such a great dancer. But you know who should have been there, was Tony."

"That would have been a good thing for Uncle Tony," I chimed in.

"He didn’t even answer the invitations to say if he was coming or not. He didn’t want to have to go out and buy gift, that's why."

"And he can afford it." said Sharon.

"I know!", said Lavonne. "He's just cheap. Jesus Christ. And your father did so much for him. When Tony hurt his leg that time a few years ago, Dan drove down to Chicago and stayed with him for a week and he can’t even send Laura a present."

"I don’t think it’s the money."

Everyone turned and looked at me. "We don’t have any money, and I just stuck it on the credit card and brought my family here because I thought it was important. It would have been cheaper and a lot easier to stay at home. But it’s like you have to get out of your space. I think with Uncle Tony, I think he's 'sheltering'. It’s this word I heard. Sometimes when you’re getting over something bad, or you’re just getting old, you get so you want to hide from life. You want to get into your routine and be settled and make each day the same. Because it makes you feel safe. It's maybe what it feels like to be a potted plant. It’s comforting to have a routine and just pull your shell over your head and not have any more surprises."

"But that's not good for you," said Sharon.

"Not too much, no. If you cut off the world its bad for you emotionally and physically, but sometimes you just want things to be simple and for life to go away."

A bad bump in the night jostles me awake, since I wasn’t much asleep. I sit up in the seat and the seat belt buckle has been digging into my ass and my back hurts like hell. I feel like going to the lavatory just to do something physical. There's a paperback of grim and gorgeous fairy tales by Angela Carter in my carry on. I stand up and my knees hurt. I fish around in the little roller bag in the overhead bin and pull the book out and sit down. I don’t see any of the stews anywhere, maybe they’re asleep too. It’d be nice to have some coffee with my book but I don’t want to make them brew any if it’s not ready. I turn on the overhead reading light and it lights up everything like a goddamn spotlight in a prison movie. Resentful red eyes glitter at me in the dark and there are gruff mumbles over the howling of the high gale over the wings like wolves with wolf eyes on a stormy night. I turn out the light and sulk.

My sister’s big fat Armenian wedding was traditional and gorgeous. It made me want to read a book about Armenians to see where all of this came from. It was held in an Armenian Apostolic church, which on the inside looked similar to a Catholic church with candles standing vigil in sand, ornate symbolic images, paintings of Jesus with intense Armenian eyes surrounded by dewy eyed Cherubs up holding scared objects. It reminded me of the complex and compelling images found in tarot cards or the bumper stickers you see in Latin America. Brides Maids and Friends of the Groom lined up in flowered and scrubbed battalions. When Laura came in at last in her bridal dress I got a sense of why weddings have always meant so much to women. The presenting of the virgin in white, almost like a sacred sacrifice to be ritually impaled later on the penis of the protective young groom for whom she has been preserved. It’s the ritualized worship of her virginity and a public witness to their pledge of loyalty to each other. The priest read from a red velvet book chanting and singing in Latin and some language I'd never heard before. Unseen behind the altar a lady began singing a Latin hymn in a powerful operatic soprano and a woman behind me sang along with her softly.

The wedding reception followed immediately after in the banquet hall just down the street. There were about 30 of us from Minnesota, and about 200 Armenians and local friends. We were seated at a table of honor as family members of the bride. Laura and her new husband sat with the bridesmaids and grooms friends at the head table. The feast was lavish. Biblical. As the catered Mediterranean delicacies passed by tray after tray, it reminded me of ancient stories of prodigal sons and fatted calves, and Jesus turning water into wine at marriage feasts to which he had been invited as a friendly guest and maybe to give the blessing or even the wedding vows. I had to drive later so I promised myself to keep a clear head and only drink a very little bit of red wine and the rest of the time stick with cola. It seemed like a good idea.

The music started, huge, loud and carnal. Disco dancing beats mixed with Little Richard and Chuck Berry mash-ups. The guests plunged onto the dance floor and begin boogying and hopping haphazardly.

I’d finished my modest half a glass of Merlot when a bottle of some sort of clear homemade pop-skull was set down beside my plate. Because it’s strange and because I can’t resist the strange, I immediately tossed back a glass and coughed and squinched. People laughed.

My wife watched the dancers on the dance floor and languished. It’s one of the sad things of our marriage for her that I don’t know how to dance and never got the hang of it or tried very hard to. She loved to dance before she was married off to me. God should have given her a good dancing partner at the least. My step mom and Sharon were out on the dance floor, when the music changed to a slow waltz.

Aw, what the hell.

I got up and came around the other side of the table. The music was so deafening she didn’t hear me yelling in her ear so I just nudged and waved at the dance floor. Her face lit up. She held my hands, put my arms where they go and we shuffled around in a goofy box step. I started to get it. It’s like sex. The key is not to think, just trust your body and follow where it wants to go. The music changed again and I gave her a twirl and suddenly she was as happy and well loved as a ladybug. She jiggled and jived and the less I thought about it the better it worked.

An elbow bumped against me. I turned around and it was Sharon, and now Lavonne’s other band mate Beth was there flushed with energy from their stage show. Sharon had this gigantic cosmic grin and nuzzled her elbow into me then held out her elbow for me to nuzzle her back, rocking her hips. I nudged her good. Now Beth was there with us and they were grinning madly and bucking their hips and gesturing with their arms and I was suddenly in awe of them. For a moment they no longer seemed like mortal women at all, but like pagan Hindu goddesses with silver bells on their toes, cymbals on their fingers and jewels in their bellies. The cosmos was dancing and holding her hand out to me.

Off behind me I saw the dazzling gleam of white, and as I turned my sister Laura was there in her bridal gown and my sister Annie next to her. They drew intimately close and got down to it. We danced together, my long lost sisters now grown into women and their older brother the religious fanatic who'd missed his chance to grow up with them. We danced close and jungle feverish and fully happy we three, trying to make up a little for what should have been a life time of love.

It’s such a relief to have my car keys and be back behind the wheel. The parking fee at the Augusta airport is double what I expected, it always is.

"I hate this stupid town," my son mutters, throws back his head and slumps despondently in the back seat.

"Augusta's nice." I say. "It’s not Los Angeles, but it’s nice."

"It sucks," he says and turns his face away.

Our tiny Budget rent a car didn't need to go back for a few more hours before we had to catch our plane out of Los Angeles at Bob Hope airport so we went happy assing around Hollywood. I had the little road map from the rent-a-car agency and plotted a careful course down Hollywood Blvd and from there to Sunset Blvd through Beverly Hills. Hollywood Blvd in the real world isn’t that glamorous. It looks like any other big gritty loud urban street except for the names of stars imbedded in the sidewalk as we drove by. There were people in Star Wars costumes gathered in front of a movie theater for some reason. We passed by legendary clubs where the big names performed for peanuts in front of drunken audiences before they hit the big time. The Comedy Store where Eddie Murphy got his start, and the Whisky a Go Go where the Doors first learned their stage craft; and Lenny Bruce performed stand up on the same bill as the Mothers of Invention, and Frank Zappa offered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the audience. These places had always loomed so large in my imagination when I was a kid, but when you drive by them in busy traffic they're just little night joints and dives, that’s all, nothing special on the outside except for their storied history. We passed through Beverly Hills with gigantic houses sequestered behind hedges and iron fences. Some of the huge lawns are lavishly decorated for Halloween. Its fun. Like driving through some pagan Heaven as devoid of shame as Eden.

We hit the pacific coast highway 1 and drove north a ways. The pacific ocean was just a few yards on the left but we couldn’t see a trace of its existence for the packed and continuous wall of old bohemian beach houses such as might been glorified by Playboy magazine in the 50s and 60s. They have an eccentric sensuality and go-to-hell architecture. We went about 20 miles and turned around to go back the other way. Soon we started to see the beach itself and men carrying surf boards and girls in non-existant bikinis that make you go "What??" But out in the high waves nobody was actually surfing.

We pick up some Chinese food at our favorite little place and my kid stays in the car in a dark morose funk. At the grocery we buy something for breakfast and some tuna fish for our lonesome cat who hasn’t seen anyone in four days. When we get home I expect our big fat tabby Ronnie to be overjoyed with relief and gratitude to see us back so that everything in his world can be comfortable and normal again. There's no way to tell an animal you're coming back, you just have to trick him into letting you go. As I jingle the door keys I can hear him meowing desperately.

He barrels right past us and into the front yard. He huddles under a bush and digs a hole and squats. He doesn’t like his litter box. After four days he literally doesn’t give a shit about us, he's just been waiting all this time to go outside in the daylight and take a dump in his favorite spot. Now he feels normal too.

C. Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Hey Garce,

    Sounds like one of those peak experiences... You're right, dancing and sex are very closely related. I have my own dancing stories...

  2. Oh, Garce! I think you need to take dance lessons, or whatever would allow you to feel more comfortable on the dance floor. Think of the rewards. :)

  3. Hi Lisabet!

    Thanks for the comments in your post about Miss Julia. You keep me going. I've always felt something special for Julia Demaso, but so many of my stories end so that they can't have a sequel.

    Yes - I remember now - you were a belly dancer. That's so erotic that kind of dancing, purely female energy. I got a sense of that when I was dancing with my sisters and then with Sharon, the way animals court by dancing and the way people communicate by dancing. That non-verbal communication is such a rich part of being alive.



  4. I think you're right Jean. I'm definately missing something.



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