My ADD really wants me to go write something else right now - anything else. Especially now that I'm getting self-conscious because this story reveals feelings about things. But luckily! It does not reveal the true names of anybody but me. Those of you who know me well have either figured this out or planned to call me and ask me who the hell Jan, Lucy, and Rhonda are. I've also thought about going back and changing all of the names of my children in previous posts, thus cloaking their identity like a safety-conscious parent is supposed to do. From now on they will be referred to as Buttons, La La, and Doopsy. Wait, I think those are Teletubbies. They will not like this. Fine, then all of their names are Alan.
Where was I? I was going to the next bar. So, I don't know how this happened but when I walked into L.A.X., everyone from Tribute was already there. Lucy noticed this too.
"Did that whole other bar just materialize into this bar?" she asked me.
"Yes, it did."
It was all of the same faces, with some additions, and more people on the dance floor than at the other place. All of the tables, which were few, were taken, and so were the pool tables. We had nowhere to hide. We had to stand there or dance.
We stood there.
"I'm going to get a drink," Jan yelled above the music. "Y'all want anything?"
"Gin me," said Lucy.
"Diet Coke," I told her, "and the ability to dance."
"That's what the alcohol's for," she said smiling.
"Shit," I said.
"How are you doing over there?" Lucy asked me, after Jan walked away.
"I wondering if coming here was a good idea," I said. "How about you?"
She shrugged. "I'm oddly good."
"That is odd."
"I know." Then she looked over at dancing boy, who wasn't on the dance floor, but was grooving a few feet away from us. "I wonder if he danced here."
As she said that, he stopped. It was like watching a hummingbird perch. It was so weird to see him stand still.
"You dance awesome!" I yelled over at him.
He smiled, full-toothed and sweet. "Thank you."
"How did you learn how to do that?"
"Watching Lusher as a kid. I just practiced."
He told me a little about himself as he caught his breath. His name was Jimmy, he was 27, and he was there with his mom.
"My mom dated Terry when I was five."
Terry was the woman with cancer. He smiled when he mentioned her name, but it was a sad kind of smile. He struck me as the kind of guy who smiled a lot, happy or sad.
"How is she?" I asked, and immediately felt bad about it. What kind of a question was that? The woman needed a fund raiser, how the hell did I think she was doing?
"She's tired," he said. "You know..."
He told me about how great she was when he was a kid and that his dad wasn't around much so he was surrounding by these terrific women.
"Which one's your mom?" I asked him.
He pointed to a middle-aged woman with long, brown hair and cowboy boots. "That's her. And that," he said pointing to a young blond in a tight, short green dress with a slit up the side, "is my trouble for the night."
She was on the dance floor, with two other friends who were also in short dresses, and fuck-me heels. I'd remembered seeing them at the other bar, and had thought they might be prostitutes.
"What's the trouble with her?" I asked.
"She told her friend she that I was hot, so her friend told me, but when I went up to talk to her, she wouldn't even look at me. So I figured fuck it, right? Then when I was dancing she came up and started talking to me, but then she did it again! She walked away."
"That sounds like bullshit."
"Yeah. That's why I don't go out so much anymore. Too much bullshit."
Then, and I'm not making this up, Green Hooker walked passed us, and brushed her hand against his cheek. She smiled like the kind of person who knows just how hot she is smiles at a person. And when she was gone, he looked right at me and said, "Pardon me."
He ran off to her. Oh, you poor, cute bastard, I thought. I felt a little jealous until I remembered that this guy was ten years younger than me, that other girl looked more like his age, and I was probably closer to his mom's age. Also, my thighs were covered.
But no big deal. They began playing some line dance song and Jan asked me and Lucy to join her on the dance floor.
"I've always wanted to do this dance!" she said. "Come on, come with me so that I don't do it alone."
"Ok," I said. "Come on, Lucy!"
"No," she said, flatly.
So Jan dragged me out to the dance floor, and for a person with no coordination, I had a really good time. Then they played "I'm Sexy and I Know It," and I had to dance to that because it's got a good beat and it's ridiculous.
At the end of the song, when Jan and I were falling over each other giggling, I noticed that Rhonda was close by and that she was talking to two people. And that one of them was Blue Top.
I flung myself over in their direction the way Jimmy had flung himself at Green Hooker, and then flung myself into the conversation.
"So it's next month at Tribute," Rhonda was saying to the woman who wasn't Blue Top.
"What's next month?" I asked.
"The Pino Party," she said. And then add, "You know, the one I keep inviting you to that you haven't been to yet."
Rhonda had once owned a lesbian bar named Pinos and lately has been having been throwing parties made up of old patrons, bar tenders, and anyone else who wants to tag along, and so far she hadn't held one on a night when I didn't have my kids.
After I pointed this out to her, Blue Top piped up.
"Yeah, I keep meaning to go too," she said, and pulled a pack of Marlboro Lights out of her pocket.
"That's my old brand," I said to her.
"Old?" She asked, tapping one out and sticking it in her mouth.
"Well, maybe not old. I quit not too long ago."
Her eyes went wide and she turned around to light up. "I'm not gonna be a bad influence!" she yelled.
When she turned around she was giggling. It was the first time I'd seen her smile, and it was nice, even if there was smoke funneling out of the side of it.
"I'm my own bad influence," I told her and shrugged. "Before that I smoked reds."
"Me too," she said.
Rhonda and the other lady stepped off to the side to talk, and there I was, alone with Blue Top, talking about what I didn't smoke.
We started talking about the Pinos parties we hadn't been too yet, women we knew, even our kids, because it turned out she had two daughters, and then somehow the conversation led to, "That girl," Blue Top said, pointing to a thin bleached blond woman behind her. "She'll be the death of me."
I looked at her. She was leaning against the wall near the bar, holding hands with another girl.
"We just broke up a month ago," Blue Top explained.
"Oh," I said. "I'm sorry."
Blue Top whipped her head around at me. "Sorry? What do you mean? You know her?"
"N-no," I said. "Just that, she's cute."
"Oh," she said. "Yeah."
She seemed disappointed that I didn't know her ex, and I wasn't sure why.
"Well," I said. "It's only been a month. Maybe you'll get back together."
"Look at her," she said.
I watched her ex pull the other girl close, their eyelids lowering as their lips touched.
"Don't look at her," I said, and Blue Top turned away, stung by the sight.
I thought about grabbing her hand, and saying something like, "Wanna make her jealous?" but just the thought of it repulsed me. Instead I said, "You ok?"
She took a drag and gave me a confused look. "Oh yeah! Yeah, I'm fine! I don't need that shit. Hey, are you on facebook? You oughtta come out more, I never see you out."
"What's your name, baby?" she asked, taking her phone out of her pocket.
I gave her my name and she sent me a friend request. "Next time we go out, you gotta come."
We talked for a little while longer, then she went to the bathroom, which was in the direction of her ex.
Lucy walked over to me, eyebrows raised and a sly smile on her face. "So how did that go?"
"Eh," I said. "Her ex is here. She says that she'll be the death of her."
"That's not good."
"Which one's her ex?"
"That," I pointed to the wall where she'd been standing, and there was Blue Top, leaning into both her ex and the woman she'd been kissing. "Uh, that one."
Lucy said, "What? That blond one that she's hanging all over?"
"Seems she's really not over her."
This was how it looked: the woman the ex had kissed had her back against the wall, Blue Top's ex was facing her with her hands on her hips, and Blue Top was standing behind her ex, running her hands down her back. She leaned in to say something in her ear, and somehow it became a deeper embrace.
"I feel bad for her," I told Lucy.
"Yeah," Lucy agreed. "That's chasin' crazy."
In my purse, that was probably being stolen at that moment, was a picture of the woman I'd broken up with in May. I thought of her as I watched Blue Top try to pry her ex's attention away from her new interest. I didn't know what I would do if Michelle walked into that bar, much less walked in with another woman. Even though we didn't work out, I couldn't watch her kiss someone else, and if that was happening, I couldn't try to break them apart if I knew I would only hurt her again in the end. I remembered the girlfriend I'd had before Michelle. A couple of years after we broke up, we got in touch again. She was with someone new and one day she asked me what my motive was in talking to her, in "becoming friends again." In truth, even though I was just talking to her, I might as well have been doing what Blue Top was doing with her ex.
Maybe Blue Top believed she was the best thing for her ex. Or maybe, like me, she wasn't aware of what she was doing. Or maybe she didn't care. Maybe she just missed running her hands down her back. Wasn't that what Dancing Jimmy had wanted too? Someone to touch? I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed that the two people I'd been attracted to had felt more comfortable confiding in me than asking me to see them in their underwear. I wondered what had happened if I'd been more aggressive with either of them, if I would have stroked Jimmy's face and turned his eyes to mine rather than Green Hooker, or if I'd leaned against Blue Top while she leaned against her ex who was leaning against the new chick.
"You know why you didn't do that?" Lucy asked, as we left the place. "Because you didn't want to. You've done it before and you're done. I'm proud of you."
I blew a raspberry at her.
"All right then," she said. "I'm sorry you didn't get laid."
"Thank you," I said.
"I'm sorry I didn't get laid either."
"We should get breakfast," said Jan, falling in step beside me.
"That's brilliance," I said. "What time is it?"
Jan looked at her watch. "2:30."
"Holy crap," I said, and then I noticed that Jan had stopped walking.
She was looking at her car, about ten feet away from us. The back passenger window was smashed in and the glass on the sidewalk.sparkled in the streetlight.
"Oh my God," said Lucy.
Jan and I didn't say anything. I was afraid to get closer, afraid to find out what I already knew - that my purse wasn't on the floor in the backseat. Then Jan approached the car, and Lucy and I stepped close to her, as to shield her from something.
"Did they take anything?" Lucy asked. "Is anything else broken?"
"No," said Jan, pacing around the car. She popped open the trunk and sighed relief when she found her bag.
I finally looked inside.
"My purse is gone," I said.
"You're kidding," said Lucy.
I shook my head. Jan called the police.
It was an hour and a half in between the time we found the car, and finally got to leave. During the time we were waiting, we watched women leaving the club, and some of them stopped and stared at the two cops around the car. A couple of them even asked if we were ok. One of them was Blue Top, who'd walked out of the club with her ex.
"What happened?" she asked, stepping away from the woman who would be the death of her.
"Jan's car got broken into," I said.
"Fuck. Anything stolen?"
"FUCK! I'm sorry, baby."
I shrugged. "Atleast her car's still here. And I had my license and check card on me, so they didn't get that."
I hadn't thought about my phone yet, or anything else I had in there. Just the pictures of my kids.Their faces kept coming to me in the still images that were with a stranger now.
"Thank the Christ," she said. Then added, "Fucking shit."
She hugged me, wished me luck, and told me to come out with them some time. Then she walked over to the ex, and took her hand. They got into Blue Top's jeep and drove off together.
"I guess they're back together," I told Lucy.
"For tonight anyway," Lucy said. "Hey, you don't need that."
When the cops left, and gave me a copy of the report, Jan said, "Now I really need breakfast."
"But your window..." I said.
She shrugged. "I'm hungry."
We went to a 24 hour diner and got pancakes, then we crashed at Jan's house. And I woke up the next morning feeling bummed about my purse and Jan's car, but I was honestly happy to wake up alone. I didn't have anybody who wanted me but I hadn't gone to bed with someone who didn't want me either.
I didn't realize until that moment that I had changed. I didn't want to chase or be chased. I was tired of, as Lucy had said, chasin' crazy. I don't want to have to grab someone's face and turn them to mine for them to look at me. Either they look or they don't. Either I look or I don't. And either we come together and are happy or we leave each other alone.
Lesson one from that night: stop carrying a purse. Keep my shit on me, and if I have to tote around more than I can't fit in my pocket, then don't go to a club. Or two clubs. Lesson two: it's ok that I've become the girl in a bar who listens to hot people talk about their estranged father or ex-girlfriend. It might mean I'm getting older and not a hottie anymore, but it makes life simpler. Lesson three: when in doubt, dance. It's fun, barely anybody is really good at it, and your purse is probably being stolen from your car anyway, so you might as well dance. Lesson four: when you order a "short stack" of pancakes from City Diner, make sure you're willing to take on three pancakes that are the size of a large pizza at 4:00 in the morning, and when you take them to go, don't look surprised when the waitress brings you an actual pizza box to fit them in.
But that's a whole other story.