July 24

#MondayMorningMusic – Tainted Love by Soft Cell

Frankfurt skyline at dawn – Image By DXR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As mentioned in the #MondayMorningMusic featuring I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston, I started clubbing at an extremely young age. Of course, I did more age-appropriate things than not (if you count having the HUGE city of Frankfurt, Germany as my playground – that’s an entirely different story) but I loved dancing.

After we moved from Frankfurt to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, it took a bit to get settled in (two words: culture shock) but my brother started DJing at an under 21 club (which was a laser tag venue during the day, so there were lots of cool cubbies and nooks and shadowy places in which to dwell) in Louisville and he used to schlep me and the other KP, out for all-nighters, which I couldn’t do unless I was with him. (I also didn’t have my license, so driving myself was an impossibility).

Anyway, somewhere along the way I started dating a guy named Jeff S., who I met at the under-21 club. After I turned 18 and he turned 21, we had to find another place to go since he couldn’t go to our usual dancing spot. As such, my first adult club was a gay bar. I quickly learned to love it – I could dance to fantastic music, flirt shamelessly without anyone taking advantage, and just be myself.

Fast forward months later when Jeff and I parted ways due in part to my move to Florida and the fact that I was a horrible bitch to him (seriously – how I treated him resulted in a long stretch of bad relationship karma. I would have apologized profusely long ago if I knew where to find him. He was a great guy!)

Anyway, after I made a few friends in a town that was, at the time, made up of mostly retirees (a fate worse than death when I was an 18-year-old freak with a penchant for black clothing, black eyeliner, and red lipstick… lol) I got dragged to a small, hole-in-the-wall-if-there-ever-was-one gay bar called, “Scores”. It’s been out of business for years, but lots of fun was had before it closed down.

One night a gentleman, whose name escapes me, and who is long-since deceased, insisted we foxtrot to Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” I protested – mostly because I had no idea how to foxtrot – any sort of ballroom dancing type stuff was (and still is) way out of my comfort zone. He laughed, swung me on to the dance floor in a move worthy of Fred Astaire, and said, “Just follow my lead.”

For less than three minutes, the stars aligned and this one moment in time was absolute perfection. For less than three minutes, I did exactly what was asked of me without question. For less than three minutes, I felt like Ginger Rogers in a pair of combat boots and thrift store clothing, as he expertly led me across the dance floor.

The perfect moment threaded among the day-to-day imperfections.

March 17

#TeaserTuesday – From Poe to Know

FromPoeToKnow_SMRitchie let out an exasperated sigh. “I’m leaving.”

“Why are you leaving? You just got home.”

He gave me a scathing look, the one he reserved for those times he thought I was being exceptionally dense. Except he’d reach for something simpler. “Stupid” would be more likely. Ritchie had a lot of things—good looks, narcissism, and an ego bigger than the whole of Europe—but an extensive vocabulary wasn’t one of them.

“I mean, Isadore, I’ve had enough. This…” He jerked his hand, index finger pointing, back and forth between us. “Isn’t working for me.”

I winced at the sound of my given name. No one but Ritchie used it. He thought it sounded sophisticated. I thought it sounded pretentious, especially when he said it.

When I didn’t reply, he returned to his clothes, the suitcase, his exit plan.

This wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation. Since I started work on Poe, our occasional arguments occurred with far more frequency, and I knew he waited for me to stop him. To beg him to stay. To degrade myself in order to prove I was worthy. To assume the bit part to his poorly-played leading actor.

And I might have. If this were the first time. Or even the second or third. The fourth time around was just dull, and after the day I’d had…

“Oh. Can I help you pack?”

His head whipped around, eyes wide in momentary surprise. He hadn’t even remotely mastered his improvisation skills, and I’d just gone off script. His eyes squinted slightly as his brain caught up.

“Do you want me to leave?”

I paused to consider the question.

“I’m not sure what brought this on.” I shrugged. “If you want to talk then let’s talk, but, no, I’m not going to stop you from leaving.” Ever the diplomat.

He slammed the suitcase shut, pieces of his meticulously-folded clothing still hanging out of its sides. I stepped into the bedroom just as he yanked the case from the bed. What the hell. I didn’t need that shin anyway. My eyes watered from the pain.

Ritchie saw the streaming tears and assumed we’d gotten back on track.

“I don’t want to talk. My mind is made up. We’re two different people from two different worlds. I need to be with my own kind.”

Translation. You’ve served your purpose. There is nothing else you can do for me. You’re not good enough for me or my (wannabe) actor lifestyle.

And you recently watched some corny romantic comedy not even bad enough to be good, I thought and stifled a laugh.

I didn’t have trouble understanding Ritchie if for no other reason than he had become far too fond of pointing out how much higher on the social scale he was. It was bullshit, of course. Ritchie had barely stepped one foot on the bottom rung. His insults, though, were always under the guise of advice. How I could be thinner, prettier, more socially pleasing. How I could be more acceptable to him. For him. Who could argue with that?

Ritchie dragged the wheel-less suitcase across the room, leaving gouges along the hardwood floor. As if on cue, he stopped when he reached the door. Turned on his mark. Looked at me in what I supposed he thought was pity.

“Goodbye, Isadore. Don’t cry.”

I might have taken his statement for solace if he hadn’t continued. “It makes you look like hell.”

With that parting shot, he resumed his trek out of the bedroom, suitcase in tow. I cringed at the continued scraping of the case along the floor. Silence, then the sound of the front door opening. Scuffling when he dragged the suitcase over the threshold. A resounding bam! when the door slammed shut.

Life sucks enough when your insecurities override your common sense and you fall hard for a guy who thinks only of himself, of what you can do for him, and of what you can give him, all for the admission price of a little attention.

It’s even worse when you realize your castrated, housebound cat is a better judge of character than you are.

March 10

#TuesdayTeaser – What’s the Craziest, Weirdest, or Most Mortifying Thing You’ve Ever Done Involving a Crush?

Headbutting Leading Man
A short teaser from From Poe to Know

I don’t date much. Never have, really, at least not in the traditional sense. I think I’ve only been on one actual date where a man picked me up, took me out, and brought me home. In Germany, where I spent most of my teen years, dates were done more in a group setting, and I held onto that mindset when we moved back to the states.

That being said, I’ve done some things that many of my friends have thought were absolutely insane on account of being interested in someone. Two come immediately to mind:

One – I “dated” someone in the military who was stationed in Germany. The first time we met he hadn’t yet enlisted and we absolutely despised each other. Fast forward a few years later and we ran into each other again when he was home on leave. Fast forward again through five months of a ton of letters (this was well before the internet) and the occasional international phone call. He proposed, I accepted, and I quit my job and flew to Germany the next day with $500 in cash and a credit card. As fate would have it, we didn’t get married, and I flew back to the states three weeks later. We haven’t spoken to each other but once or twice, I think, since. Not in years, certainly. Embarrassment factor – at the time, probably a six on account of a couple of irate letters I sent him after I got back and didn’t hear from him for a couple of months. Turned out he’d been in a car accident the day I left and ended up in the hospital for a lengthy stay.

Two – I once moved from Florida to Los Angeles because I wanted to date someone who works in the music industry. There was absolutely nothing going on between us, but I knew there wouldn’t even be a chance of anything if we weren’t in the same place. The whole story (or at least what I’m willing to publicly admit to) is told in an essay, “Ten Steps for Befriending a Rockstar or the Gentle Art of Stalking,” in Fractured: essays on love, friendship, and the nightmares in between. I spent a year and a half living in L.A., saw him maybe twice, and moved back east when I lost my roommate (she moved) and couldn’t afford to stay any longer. Plus, living in L.A. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We still talk occasionally and I consider him a great friend. Adore him, really. Embarrassment factor – as a whole, none at all, though there was that one time I went to see him play and decided holding up a poster that said “Rockstar sucks” was a good idea. Nearly stopped the show with that one and I’m surprised I didn’t get beaten to a pulp by fans. I’m also surprised he still talks to me after he got a ration of shit from his bandmates.

All of this brings me to From Poe to Know. Izzie has a crush on Cardwell, the star of Poe, and I wanted her to have at least one mortifying encounter -who among us hasn’t done something to embarrass ourselves in front of someone we liked? Izzie is accident prone, and what could be more horrifying than nearly breaking Cardwell’s nose? (NOTE: if you click on the picture you’ll be able to read it easier)

In that spirit, chime in in the comments and tell me the craziest, weirdest, or most mortifying thing that’s ever happened to you on account of someone you liked or were dating.