-There’s a concert tonight at San Souci Bar. The Polecats are playing. Wanna go? Free of charge.-
I glanced at the clock and did a quick mental calculation. Take meat out to defrost now, make dinner at 5:30, get ready at 7:30, have a celebratory drink at home so I don’t have to pay for alcohol, be out until about 11 and back home snuggled in bed with a book by 12. Hmm…
-HELL YES!!! I typed back. Come by before so we can get ready! I’ll even feed you, lol.-
-LOL, K. –
I rolled off the couch where I’d been browsing pinterest on my phone and hurried into my room, my brain racing ahead for possibilities. Did I even HAVE an concert clothes that fit anymore? I pulled open my closet doors and rummaged through my sad collection of dresses. Pink fluffy, Orange ruffly, matronly black, Purple sequins…? Meh. I dismissed everything. Who was I kidding? It was the dead of winter and most of the dresses were a size too small now.
I looked down at my gray leggings and my blue cheetah print slip dress. It was long sleeved and hugged my curves nicely while hiding my bulges. I’ll just add black boots and a knee length jacket to hide my large ass and call it a night. I’d never been to San Souci and didn’t know what to expect. Bombay was classy. The Garage was a dive. The outfit was a nice mix of elegant and casual. Accepted anywhere and I didn’t care if beer or taco sauce dripped on it. Gotta love cotton.
Rina got here early to escape her parents’ endless questions and unload her drama on me. I’m so lonely. My dog is sick. I’m so tired of living with my parents… yadda yadda yadda. Sounded like a Country song. I was nice enough to nod in sympathy and make noises of concern because no one ever listened to my advice anyway. I was learning not to mind that I was largely ignored in this regard. What did I know anyway? I’d only been in the longest running relationship out of anyone in my family, ever. Well. Whatever. At least I was kept in the loop.
I fed Rina tacos to cheer her up and we killed time talking/complaining and watching the kids play video games while my husband ignored us and plugged into the computer. Occasionally he would burst out in a guffaw of laughter that quieted the entire room temporarily and he’d apologize. At 8:00 I brushed my teeth and hair, stuffed a water bottle in my purse along with my wallet and a grabbed a book (cuz I never leave home without one) and we left an hour early.
Rina and I ALWAYS get to the bars early now to reserve seating. This was largely due to the fact that one night when we were going to a concert, on time like good little garage band fans, we were wearing heels and discovered that all the tables were taken. Yeah. That was a special kind of pain to a woman who LOVES flip flops and Chucks. That night my ratty thrift store slouch boots made an appearance. Who cares if the toe was chewed and they were a size too big? I could dance in them and they wouldn’t kill my feet. Besides, with a rack like mine, no one would be looking at my feet.
San Souci was tiny and a hole in the wall place that I walked by probably a million times without even a glance inside. I showed my ID at the door, snorting at my ten year old photo. I hadn’t changed much, which was the important thing. I still looked like me. I just wish that my weight now matched my weight on the card.
There were the typical smokers and boozers outside, already too loud and punchy. It seems like a drink and chill kind of place. An in-between place before the next thumping club with harsh obnoxious music. Rina took a quick survey of the tiny room and bee-lined for our boys, the Polecats. I followed more sedately, giving brief hugs and saying little because Rina had already launched into her latest drama. I took out my book and found an out of the way chair. I’d already heard it before.
Thank God for selective hearing, a skill I learned from my abusive stepfather. Bad-mouthing me seemed to make him feel better so I learned to tune him out. He was usually too drunk to notice. It was a kind of harmony between us I guess. Useful skill though.
“Reading huh?” some smiley tipsy guy asked, sitting beside me and wafting his beer breath near my nose.
“Nope. Just making sure this paper gets enough air,” I said cheerfully. “Wouldn’t want it to suffocate in my bag.”
Where’s Bill Engvall when you really need him? HERE’S YOUR SIGN.
Something about my demeanor must’ve tipped him off that he was interfering because he gave an uncertain smile and then wove his way back to the other end of the bar. Byyyeeeeeee.
Ah! Finally! There was some activity on the tiny stage. The band had a convenient excuse to brush off Rina by setting up their equipment and I stowed my book away, settling back to let the boys work. Rina grabbed my arm and squeezed.
“It’s been too damn long,” she declared. “I can’t wait for Charlie to sing. I hope they do Mojave Mojo.”
“Looks like we’re getting a private performance,” I replied, looking around. The tables had cleared remarkably fast once word got around that the band was rockabilly based. Peasants. They wouldn’t know good music if it slapped them.
“Their loss,” Rina shrugged.
The Polecats were an eclectic bunch. My favorite was their bassist, Stephan, who looked like ZZ top on top, a western country dancer on his torso, and a kilt-wearing goth on the bottom. He was utterly fabulous. The team mascot to be sure. But I really had to give credit to the other three as well. They made the perfect quartet with Tommy’s bad ass drumming, “Skim Jim”‘s mad shredding skills on the guitar and Charlie’s beautiful honey lovin’ voice. Together, they were amazing. Fast or slow, they had no bad songs.
We stood right in front of the tiny stage, as we always did. There was only a brief moment passing guilt for obstructing the audience’s view. What little audience there was. I thought it might annoy the Polecats but I figured it was the sound that mattered, not the visuals so I stayed put. Rina and I exchanged excited smiles and we giggled madly. The drummer knocked his sticks.
“ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”
And then bliss started.
Ever the mover and a shaker I danced in place, uncaring who looked on. Rina shimmied beside me, her eyes flirting with Charlie. I could tell I was going to be on my own tonight. There was no getting her attention for the next hour. That’s fine. Music was too loud to talk anyway. Just the way I liked it even though I couldn’t understand half of what he sang. I twirled in place and kicked my feet up, swinging my ponytail around till it was frizzed out and poofy. I felt my boobs bouncing in the bra and the jacket slapped against my thighs. I was smiling from ear to ear, my chipped and crooked teeth gleaming in the lights of the stage. I was probably sweating a bit. I wasn’t aware of these things. Not while I was dancing.
This was heaven. I was away from home, listening to a really good band whom I admired. I was able to sing along with their songs because I’d worn out their CD. It was different experience going to a famous person’s concert and singing along with thousands of fans all together. That was uplifting and pretty damn cool. But singing the lyrics to songs made by local boys who were largely unknown felt like showing off. Like, YEP we were true fans. We found this band first, we know them personally, and we bought their CD’s because we support them wholeheartedly. We had TOP FAN status. It felt good.
Much to my surprise, after a few songs had played, I feel an arm slide over my shoulder and I look back to see a mysterious dark-skinned man grinning at me.
Whaaa? I looked up at this new man awkwardly craning my neck around to see his bright white grin. I couldn’t so anything but smile crookedly back. What the hell?? He reached over and took Rina’s shoulders as well and she gave me an alarmed look. Then we kind of swayed to the music like a white-girl “can’t dance” sandwich. We stumbled and fumbled, sweaty and giggling and crashing into each other. Rina was laughing uncertainly as this continued through another song and I could tell her vibe was thrown off. When he left to refill his cup we exchanged looks. Mine was flippant, like whatever. Hers was twitchy and anxious. Oh great. That was a downer if I’d ever seen one.
No, no NO! Dammit screw her! I didn’t mind dancing with the dude so I’m not going to let whatever was bothering her affect me. When another fast song came on I was doing the Charleston standing in place and I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around and was looking at a leather vest over a flannel shirt. What kind of a fashion statement was that? My eyes traveled up and up and UP. Whoa. They encountered a beard, twinkly blue eyes and a grown-in dark brown mohawk. Later Rina would dub him Mr. Cockatoo.
“May I have this dance?”
Dance? You can have my arm. My leg. My first born child. Well…third anyway. Damn! And I couldn’t believe it but he could actually DANCE. Legit, throw me around like a rag doll, dance. He was pro. The patrons around me blurred as I was waltzed into a world every woman dreams of being in. Flung far away, twirled under his arm, brought close, dancing cheek to cheek. You can keep all the flowers and chocolates and diamonds in the world to yourself. Present me with a man who could dance, and was willing to in public, and I was butter in his hands. And that’s exactly how I danced. Sloppy and clumsy, stepping on his toes and probably smacking him in the face a couple times with my hair. I was smiling too much to apologize.
It must’ve been interesting to watch this giant toothpick of a man and plump little olive of a woman tear up the dance floor. My friend stood back and just grinned like a mad woman, applauding me while eyeing Mr. Dark nervously. When I was delivered back to her, sweating and panting, she fanned me.
“Nice moves there Ginger Rogers.”
“HA! I probably broke his toes!” I said it with a grin though.
“But you’re happy?”
“Hell yes I am! Ain’t been handled like that in a long while.”
“Your poor husband. Trumped by a Cockatoo.”
“I would dance with the ugliest man on earth if he could cut a rug like that.”
I paused by my purse during a slower song to hydrate and my ears sharpened on a conversation behind me somewhere.
“It’s like a pity fuck man, but a dance” a guy chuckled, not bothering to muffle his speech. “Find the ugliest and fattest chick in the club then throw her a round a little, give her some attention, and she’s your bitch for the night.”
“Yeah,” his girlfriend agreed, getting in on the cruel joke. “Except it’s worse because it was in public. Definitely a pity dance. I can’t believe she’s not embarrassed. I would be!”
I slowly lowered the water bottle from my lips and capped it, hands clenching the plastic until it crackled in protest. I felt my cheeks start to burn with something that wasn’t exertion. It was a numbing kind of burn that spread out through my face and trickled down my body like liquid nitrogen. It reached my lungs and made me take slow deep breaths. I remained kneeling for a few seconds more, absorbing with this knowledge.
I was the punch line to a fat joke? Really? Had I really become the fat chick everyone pitied but admired for her spunk? People felt SORRY for me so they felt obligated to throw me a bone? I flicked a glance at my friend. She was back in front of the band, swaying blissfully. She didn’t notice anything.
I got up.
There were two ways people usually react to over-hearing a conversation like I did. They run away with their tail between their legs and go eat a pint or three of Hagen Daas. I could have. I knew I was fat. Fattest I’ve ever been in my life. I had double chins and back fat and my thighs rubbed together horrendously when I wore a skirt. I could excuse myself from public and go wallow in mud like the pig I was. Or I could make an even bigger fool of myself by raging at the trolls, pouring more scrutiny on myself with expletives and a rousing shouting match to which I knew I would break down and cry in the middle of.
I did neither of these things. I re-tied my hair, ready for battle. You can do battle with frizzies. I sucked in my gut, spun on my heel and swept past the trolling couple, purposely banging my arm into the back of their heads.
“Bitch!” they hissed and I turned and smirked at them, holding their guilty eyes long enough to make them turn away and lower their insults to murmurs. Then I walked straight back to Mr. Cockatoo and held out my pudgy hand to him, bowing slightly in greeting.
“May I have another dance?” I purred. “I haven’t had enough.”
After the surprise had left his face, he grinned, set down his drink and took my hand, squeezing it and setting me into a spin.
And it was true. Who cares if I was the Punch line to a fat joke? Rina couldn’t ruin my night with her whining or her strange men PTSD and she was my best friend. There’s no way in hell I was going to let a couple of trolls ruin my night by being assholes. Stick it to them. This wickedly tall and talented man chose ME to dance with because I was willing. Ms. fakey liposuction twiggy wanna-be didn’t have my nerve, my guts or my humility to be handled by such a man. Puta.
At the end of the night, all I asked for was a picture with Mr. Cockatoo.
“I like your spirit,” he murmured to me. “Thanks for saying yes,”
I’m married. I remembered that as we cuddled up in the picture and smiled at Rina’s camera. I thanked him for the dance, said good-bye to the Polecats and thanked them as well for a wonderful night.
“Aside from Mr. Piranha (the toothsome black dancer), it was a good night right?” Rina said as we walked back to her car.
“Oh yeah!” I said.
Yes I’m fat. Yes my clothes fit finny. Yes, I have self-esteem issues. But when a man wants to dance with me to a great band, there’s nothing better in the world than that.
She dropped me off at home and my husband was still plugged into the computer. The kids were asleep. I showered and snuggled into bed by 11, took out a book and for a brief moment, held the memory close that even though I was a Punch Line, I was chosen out of everyone for one perfect night.
Thank you Universe. I needed that. Hashtag “Positive vibes”.