I’ve always been the one that leads, so this could take some adjusting on my part. That said, I’m more than up for the challenge. The rewards are huge; for there’s nothing better than two-stepping with my baby! (Okay, maybe one thing better.)
Lee’s Liquor Lounge (101 N. Glenwood, Minneapolis, MN), long a friend of live music, hosts a free GLBT Country Barn Night every Sunday night. If you go early, you can get a dance lesson and learn the latest line dance steps. Lee’s is a great time; a clean joint, open, friendly, well-lit, with plenty of reasonably priced drinks to be had. You can even get a pizza.
Things were in full swing by the time the boyfriend and I arrived. A couple of women we play board games with were meeting friends there and invited us down. The boyfriend had been there many times before and knew a lot about the place, which surprised me a bit as he’d never struck me as the country music type. But then, he’d demonstrated his ‘tush push’ on more than one occasion – and I gotta tell you – the boy has got it going on!
Decked out in a pair skintight black jeans that wrapped his hot ass, thighs, and calves perfectly, a tight black tee showing off his massive arms, and his size 12 cowboy boots emblazoned with orange flames, dude looked downright intimidating, as in, so hot I might stare all night, but never work up the nerve to approach him. Thankfully, for once, I had the inside track (yay, me!), so I wouldn’t be spending the evening as the gawkiest wallflower in the juke joint.
Nope. I’d be dancing with this hunk.
We sat on the ‘girls’ side. Apparently the bar, on the dance side, is divided – gay guys on the far end of the dance floor, ladies in the front half. I spent my first half hour sipping my drink, making small talk, and watching the line dancers. Their skill levels ranged from the commanding and fleet to the totally clueless. It looked like such good fun, I wanted to join, but couldn’t work up the nerve to go out there and make a fool of myself.
Instead, the boyfriend and I waited for a slower-paced two step number. The line dancers drifted away as couples filled the floor.
And there it was – the question and issue that would haunt us the rest of the evening: who leads?
I gave following a shot. It was a mixed bag. He had to stop several times and remind me who was in charge. The next song was a waltz and I think I took the lead. We did a little better, I thought, but was then told that I was not allowed to make faces while dancing (damn). We sat out the faster numbers and before long the line dancers turned another set. It was fun to watch.
Then the floor cleared and it was couples time again. We tried another two-step.
Okay, admittedly – I am out of practice. I haven’t danced with anyone in ages. In fact, I can’t remember the last time. And let’s face it, couple dancing is very intimate and, as I recall, anytime you have a new partner there are adjustments to be made by both parties. You have to listen to one another’s bodies and respond to the appropriate touches. (Does this sound familiar?)
So, it wasn’t smooth sailing, but then, it wasn’t a train wreck, either. I remain encouraged. I believe we have lots of potential.
Of course, the boyfriend gets asked to dance by one of the better couples dancers – a tall, dark, handsome, thin gent with some nice stubble going on and some great moves on the floor. I watch as they twirl about in tight, florid circles, looking like they’ve danced together before.
Which they probably have; the boyfriend gave me the 411 on all the regulars, even the ones he’d gone on dates with. Insecure me, for once, didn’t feel threatened in the slightest. This is a nice, friendly community. Very open. Very sweet. Very real.
I’m still trying to determine if I’m the jealous type. See, I’ve never dated anyone younger than myself, and something tells me that plays into this a bit. But I’m not sure how much. Or if such things bother me at all.
And they all seemed to know one another. In fact, the moment we arrived, a couple the boyfriend knew, but hadn’t seen in ages, swooped in and tried to find out what was new in the boyfriend’s life. I think they were trying to figure out who I was in the mix, but the boyfriend didn’t say anything, so I kept mum, too.
The faster two-step dances ended, and the line dancers returned to the floor. It was time for the ‘tush push’ and I encouraged the boyfriend to hit the floor. Wow. Let me tell you, that was another revelation. When that man crouches down and forward for an eight count of pelvic thrusts? Whew! Call 911, because a fire just done broke out on that dance floor.
Damn, he looked good.
I resolve right then and there to get my ass to the bar early next Sunday so I can start taking those free classes they offer. I don’t think of myself as being competitive, but maybe that plays in there more than I’m willing to admit.
We get to dance a few more. And, no, I never quite get it right, but I’m not losing hope.
The next night we text back and forth a bit about it. I tell him how much fun I had and he tells me I have to stop fighting him when he leads. So we compromise; I get to lead until I know what I’m doing and then, maybe I will be relaxed enough to let him drive.
I don’t think of myself as controlling. But dancing is an art (even the most casual dancing), and I do tend to have strong opinions when it comes to any kind of performing art. Hopefully I’ll just relax and stop being all neurotic about this.
That said, I am excited to finally have found someone to dance with. Dancing was never high on my priorities list when looking for a mate, but that doesn’t mean I don’t really appreciate this opportunity.
I’ve been couple dancing ever since I can remember. My parents used to drag all us kids, dressed in identical, matching outfits, to all the polka festivals each year. So the polka and the waltz come naturally to me. But I was always the one who leads, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have ‘issues’ with following. But it’s nothing I can’t learn.
I’m so excited and grateful that dancing might be part of my life again.
And that’s true of a lot of things in the past four months. I’m playing guitar and piano again. Singing, too. Trying new restaurants and attending events I would never have before. Playing board games and video games and being exposed to many things that I sort of denied myself before. And all this has swept in to replace all the casual sex I used to try and fill the void with.
Well, the void is filled. I feel more alive, more real than I have in years.
Now I just have to work on my two-step and my poker face. Will I succeed?
Well, it’s something I really, really want, so…
…I like my odds.
If I read you a story, I am going to want to use character voices throughout, take lots of dramatic pauses, and quiz you at the end to determine if you understood the story after which I will ask you to critique the story, the writing, and my… ahem, performance.
Yeah, I would just choke all the fun out of it, huh? Sucks to be you.
So, better that you read said story yourself. Besides… you’d tire quickly of my hammy interpretation of the text and constant need for reassurance.
That and I only have so much energy. And while my throat never tires out (never – ask my boyfriend), my voice frequently does these days, due to a lack of use.
Like Madonna before me, for me, words, at least spoken ones, have lost their meaning, don’t function anymore.
I’d rather type – preferably with Boodles Gin martini close at hand.
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information
TMI Questions: Please Read Me a Story!
Describe your favorite place to cozy-up with a good book.
My day bed. With a big blanket. When it’s cold out or raining. Sometimes with the dogs all gathered around me.
I used to love reading at the cabin in winter also… although I’d be more likely to be writing then. Something about the isolation allows me to shut down and go on that inner journey – something required in order for me to either read or write.
Winter has always been my favorite time to read.
During the summer I prefer to be outside, where I have tried reading while sunning, but typically there’s baby oil or sun screen on my hands and usually I’d be sweating and I would almost certainly be distracted, so reading outdoors has never really worked for me.
Reading inside a tent, on the other hand, does.
I’m waiting for the day that my boyfriend and I reach a point where we can sit on opposite sides of the couch with our legs intertwined and read books. But, that would require me keeping my hands off him, and, well… I just don’t see that happening any time in the near or distant future. Grrr.
What do you read when you're on the toilet?
The notion grosses me out. Whenever I see people walk into a public bathroom with a newspaper or paperback all I can think of is all the germs and crap they will transfer all over those pages. Ugh. These are typically the people who also don’t bother washing their hands.
The notion of doing that at home? Ugh. Why? Toilets are for one thing – get in there, get on it, take care of business and shove off. They are not meant to be vehicles of entertainment.
Well, at least, not in polite circles.
Do you read when taking a bath?
I shower. Rarely ever take a bath, although a good soak in the tub does feel great.
When I did take baths I never read. Again, it’s a matter of taking care of business and getting on with the rest of the day. Also, the pages get wet. I know there are people who enjoy that sort of thing, but it’s not for me.
If you can, do you read when at the gym?
Too busy at the gym to read. There is always a newspaper around and on occasion, if I am really struggling to regain between sets I will do a quick read on a story that catches my eye. But I am a slow reader, and there to accomplish something else, so I’m not going to spend much time doing that.
I have to laugh at the dudes who grab the whole paper and then spend 20 minutes on an elliptical machine, reading the entire time. Their priority is very clear to me, and it has nothing to do with getting physically fit. They are fooling themselves if they think they are accomplishing much. These are the same guys who have incredibly loud conversations with one another, wasting even more gym time.
But then, yes, some people do go to the gym for different reasons. I am not a social animal, so that kind of fraternizing just seems like such a waste of time and opportunity.
Do you still read newspapers and or magazines?
Not really. To this day, I get ‘Rolling Stone’ delivered to the house, but that’s it. I sort of read it. On occasion there will be a news article, investigative piece, interview, or political commentary that grabs my attention, but all I really read are the album reviews.
My only contact with newspapers is at the gym, and, as stated, that is quite limited.
The demise of print media is sad, but an eventuality. The Minneapolis Star Tribune is fading away. In my brief time in this city I saw it go from being two separate newspapers with morning and evening editions to being a single paper put out once a day. And soon… it will only exist on-line.
Nostalgic, yes, but ultimately happier for the trees.
What are your favorite genres to read?
I am all over the place. Love biographies, the classics, character-driven drama fiction, certain poetry classics, certain murder mysteries, certain illustrated children’s books and cartoon anthologies.
Favorite authors: Sue Miller, Faye Weldon, Anne Tyler, Sara Paretsky
Poets: Emily Dickenson, Stevie Smith, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe
Favorite children’s books series: Olivia
Favorite cartoon anthologies: Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed
Do you read one book at a time or can you read several?
I read one book at a time. My brain can’t hold more than that. And I read so slowly… it’s embarrassing. My brain floods with anxiety anytime I have to read something to myself in front of others. They always finish first and left with the impression that I am none too bright (which, may indeed, be the case).
Frequently, I simply can’t find the time to read. I like to read before going to sleep, but am often too tired to do so – my eyes get so bloody tired from staring at screens all day (laptops, televisions), sometimes I find myself wanting to tear them out so I can get some peace.
Ultimately, that’s why I love sleeping so much… I get to close my eyes.
If you start a book, do you finish it no matter what?
There is only one book I have begun and not finished: ‘Cider House Rules’ by John Irving. I tried reading it three times, always making it to the middle of the book, where my interest would simply die of attrition.
I sometimes wonder if the author’s interest didn’t also meet a similar fate.
It was free entertainment and a means of establishing bedtime. As soon as we could read, we were left on our own. But we had all the Dr. Seuss books, along with these red-bound volumes of various traditional fairytales and stories from different nationalities.
I rescued the latter from my Mother’s basement last year. They are in poor condition, but the illustrations bring back such memories, I can’t part with them. Not sure what to do with them, either.
My favorite books, as a small child:
Ferdinand the Bull (I, too, would rather smell the flowers than fight)
Old Black Witch (about a witch who haunts a Victorian-style house turned into a tea room)
The Ugly Duckling (enough said)
Alexander (about an imaginary horse a horrid little boy blamed things on)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (about the power of imagination)
Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak books struck me as sophisticated and exotic. I preferred Sendak over Seuss. ‘The Sign on Rosie’s’ Door’ gave me lots of hope.
‘Curious George’, on the other hand, struck me as wrong (and, now, as a strange allegory on slavery). Early on, I developed a strange love/hate relationship with zoos, thanks to George and would always wonder if the animals were sad they were not in the jungle. George, in my mind, should have been a sad little monkey, so the story made no sense to me.
Have you read to your kids / nephews / nieces?
Yes, ages ago, when I still tried.
As a babysitter, I always succeeded, but my own nephews and nieces demonstrated a disdain for me from the moment we met. It was weird. And, ultimately, fine with me.
I avoid children like the plague these days. I’m polite, but distant. They have parents, toys, television, and rooms of their own.
I’m not here to entertain the little shits.
I’m here to drink Boodles Gin martinis.
How do you feel about reading books vs. using electronic devices?
My business partner/ex tried to give me a Kindle a few years ago. I made him take it back. I like books; the smell of the pages, the weight of the volume, the choice of cover art… all that remains a huge part of reading for me.
I don’t mind reading articles, as long as they are well-edited, on-line, on a laptop. But I couldn’t imagine reading an entire book that way.
I had one of those tablet things for a bit. Never warmed up to it, so I gave it to my boyfriend. He plays games on it (something else I can’t imagine me ever doing on anything but a big flat screen TV).
Have your feelings evolved from one or two years ago?
And they won’t.
I’m to a point in my life where I don’t need to have the latest anything to be happy. That kind of thinking leads to madness. Take the leap from Windows 7 to Windows 8, for example; I don’t want to do it. I will put it off as long as possible. Windows 8 is not a necessary improvement. It is an inconvenient nuisance, to ask us to adjust how we navigate something as vital and immediate as a laptop. I haven’t forgiven them for it yet and I am not likely to in the near future, though, I suppose, moving over to that platform is an inevitability I will have to accept.
If this makes me sound like a dinosaur, than, yeah, I’m a fucking T-Rex, motherfuckers.
When was the last time you looked at or read an adult magazine to satisfy yourself?
That would be the mid-nineties in L.A. I stopped into some abandoned 7-11 store and there were stacks and stacks of porn mags (some used) sitting around in piles on the floor. I sifted through a bit and found some crap I thought might get me off. I took it home, where it sat in a drawer in my walk-in closet where I would dress each day.
In the mid-eighties, I used to love fuck rags so much. I would have a hundred of them at a time… cream all the pages. Then the shame of it all would get to me and I would wander down the alley in the middle of the night, depositing them in someone else’s garbage can.
My resolve would last for maybe two weeks or so, or until my next pay check, when I would scurry into the bookstore on the corner of Chicago and Lake and buy ten or so at a time, only to repeat the whole scenario again.
When was the last time you even saw one?
This summer. In the woods and down by the river.
It’s common practice for certain trolls to purchase fuck rags (usually straight porn), and leave them in a thicket or on an out of the way trail in the hopes that some young thing will happen by, discover the fuck books, and begin masturbating madly right on the spot.
I don’t know if that actually works.
Straight fuck rags do very little for me. So, I would look at them out of curiosity as my eyes scanned the surrounding area to see who might be watching.
What with all the porn available for free on the net these days, I’m not sure what appeal modern fuck rags hold anymore, though I must admit I get damn nostalgic when I come across a still from one of the gay rags I used to beat off to in the mid-eighties.
Ah, massive orgasms and shame.
Good times… good times.