In the interest of furthering my wife’s career, last night I danced. I danced as well as I was able. I do not dance well, but most of those around me danced worse.
My wife was researching possible locales for an event she is organizing, so last night we attempted to visit four: two bars and two clubs. One of the bars was not where we thought it would be, and we never found it; the other was excruciatingly modern and seemingly doorless, though mirrored panels slid to the side as we neared them. The bar itself was made of glass, and each drink cost what one pays for a four-person dinner elsewhere. The singer’s voice was soaringly, softly beautiful, and the sinks in the restrooms were perfect crystal bowls, and there was a man who wiped the bowl back to transparency as I left.
One of the clubs was open but empty and still strung with tinsel, and we looked in only; the other was the aforementioned club at which we danced. Salsa is becoming popular in China, but it is not the loose friendly salsa to which we are accustomed. Rather, it is a sort of New York-style salsa, tight and fast and flaring, such as you have perhaps seen in fine films like Salsa!, Salsa Reloaded!, and Salsa Revolutions! Here there were non-salsa accoutrements such as a pool table and Beatles posters, but the music was correct, and there was a massive video screen showing old Ricky Martin videos to songs that were not being played at the moment, and the dance floor was full. We danced, and others danced around us—here, as elsewhere, perhaps half the dancers were simply dancing, and the other half were tightly enlaced as couples, one of whom purported to know and the other endeavored to learn, and all of them stepped on our feet as the music worked pleasantly back toward its more languid beginnings. We danced, and then looked up, and we were the only people moving. It was not that the others were watching us, though earlier in the evening some of them had been—watching my wife because she is gorgeous and a wonderful dancer, watching me because I was with my wife. Instead they stood now in rows and faced the front and did not move. They stared at the video screen. The video was the one in which Ricky Martin has sex with forty women and wears great clothes. They stared at the screen, and I suspect they were simply preparing themselves mentally for some sort of line-dance or group lesson, but it is more amusing to believe that in fact they were members of a salsa death cult, and we left before finding out.
The night wind here, now: it is made of wolves. It is not so easy to get to sleep. Of course, it never was.
There is another thing, also. Static electricity. There is an unimaginable amount of it. I do not know why, though perhaps it has something to do with the cold dry winter air. Before, static electricity was something one used to get balloons to stick to the wall, and to one’s younger sister’s hair against her will. Now it is wholly something else. I am afraid to touch my car, because touching it is like licking an electric fence. And picture this: it is very late, and the wind outside is hungry and crazed, and you go, finally, to bed. Your wife is already there, already sleeping, somehow; you have been at your computer for hours typing up bad ideas for worse stories, and playing poor chess with strangers, and reading articles about Bolivia, and your eyes and brain are now unwilling to play or read any more, so you walk to your bedroom, and as you take off your wool sweater, sparks flow across and from it—the sweater half-off and still covering your face and the light popping and flashing through your scratchy shroud and then your face is clear and you are pulling the sweater free from your arms and still the sparks pop and flash, bright enough for you to see your wife’s face, barely.