Wow! I just got back from the Purple Door, and I’m exhausted! The phrase “shit-canned” comes to mind, but I don’t know if that covers it. Here’s the deal. I was sitting at a table listening to an Irish band playing a wide range of music, from old sailor ditties to Irish blues, with a few Bob Dylan and Van Morrison covers. Some people were dancing but most were hanging out at tables and listening. I was drinking beer and trying not to think too much, just playing with the bandage on my finger. All of a sudden I see Rose McGowan—that’s right, Rose McGowan—sitting across the room with a bunch of her goth friends.
I was on my third beer, and while I wasn’t ready to start doing wall push-ups, I was feeling good and loose. The loud music made the brick walls expand with each beat. Hot blood pulsed in my ears. Given my New Year’s resolution to act on impulse, I had no choice but to get up and introduce myself to the starlet. No staggering, no spilling, just a straight walk to the table, a tap on the shoulder, and a quick “Excuse me, but I really enjoy your body of work.” Her goth friends stared at me with that bleary look that concentration camp victims give to a photographer through barbed wire. I needed a couple more beers.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out what most guys learned in high school, distinguished reader, and here it is—chicks dig confidence. They like guys to be sensitive, yes, and gentle, maybe, but only after a show of strength. No matter what anyone tells you, a sensitive guy who fails to show strength is at best a friend. So no matter how badly I cowered inside, I knew that any expression of contempt must be countered with cocksureness. No more emotional beat-downs. So that’s when I said it:
“You wanna dance?”
I half-smiled, nonchalant, as if I were asking a child come down from a tree. Take it or leave it, kid—this is your only chance. Rose shot a big smile at one of her friends, a pasty guy with black hair and one constricted pupil. As she arose from her chair, I tried not to act shocked. For a brief moment, I wanted to run out of the bar, get on a bus, not go any deeper. I put the beer down, hopped onto a platform, and started dancing. I knew I had to put my best foot forward, as the saying goes. The band was playing a upbeat ditty, so I combined a toe-tapping jig with my best belly dance moves.
Rose McGowan’s a dancer. She said something to me that I couldn’t hear, so I flapped the back of my ear, shrugged, and kept dancing. When the song ended, she leaned close and asked my name. “Daniel,” I shouted. I have no idea why I said Daniel. The band worked into a new song with a slower groove. I told Rose to dance with her arms up high, like this, and when she did so I sidled up to her and grooved around her. “Oh when the ship comes in,” the singer belted, “You’ll see me lass come smilin’.” We had something going, Rose and I. It felt like everyone was watching us, even the band. Getting down, hooking up.
It didn’t happen for us. It turns out the guy with the constricted pupil was more than just a friend to Rose. He hopped onto the platform and said something to Rose that I couldn’t hear. I just saw his black lips contorting in anger. She seemed put off, and that’s when I realized they had a history. She emasculated him by calling him a woman’s name and told him to go away. Rose was no woman with whom to be trifled. I was dancing slowly, wondering whether to jump in and tell the guy to buzz off or to let Rose sort things out herself—the same old paralyzing collision between chivalry and feminism.
The band moved into a faster song. “There once was a bloke named McQuiver,” the band sang, “Who took to his drink by the river.” The guy with the constricted pupil made his play. He wedged himself between us and began dancing slowly with his back to me. I grabbed his tiny shoulders and slowly but firmly moved him aside. Crazy, detached eyes stared at me from behind a pasty face.
“Old Seamus ne’er said no to a feast,” the band sang, “And drank whiskey like a Belfast Priest…”
Time to dance. I busted a lindy circle followed by a double spin. The goth paused a beat and did the same step. We eyed each other, as if for the first time. I worked up a trade-slide block turn in skater’s position, and he followed the move effortlessly, moving into a Frankie’s Roll that consisted of a tap-back foot on the second beat, followed by a roll-roll-triple on four. We were now dancing side by side. I duplicated the block turn, working a stomach roll into the trade slide. Other dancers moved aside and cheered each completed move.
The goth and I were drenched with sweat. Each dance move was equaled and bested in turn. I jumped into a toe-click-heel-tap kickout that morphed into an old-time cabbage patch. He took the cue, and we threw down a cabbage patch in sync, both of us working in a quarter turn every fourth beat. When the song ended, the goth and I looked at each other with respect. We hugged tightly, like two gladiators after a hard-fought draw, each of us so secure in his own masculinity that the groping of buttocks and genitals meant nothing more than an assessment of manliness.
Then it turned nasty. He was there.
Michael Flatley had been dogging me ever since I bested him in a contest last October. He quit his tour and moved to Seattle to study my moves. Some people never learn that victory or defeat means nothing compared to the assertion of will, and Michael is one of those people. I can only assume that this failure—combined with insane jealousy and wine coolers—contributed to the wild haymaker he threw at me. I ducked and slammed a fist into his gut, causing Mr. Flatley to double over. Instead of finishing him off, I let him gather his wind. Mistake. He kicked my shin, put me in a headlock, and took the liberty of rapping his knuckle, hard, against the top of my head. I’ll say this for Mr. Flatley—he’s a scrapper. I would have been done for if Rose hadn’t pulled the Lord of the Dance off me and whisked him outside.
Whew! I need to wrap this up and get some sleep. Anyway, to make a long story short, I talked my way out of being arrested and Rose McGowan is now dating my nemesis Michael Flatley. I vow that we shall meet again.