A few weeks ago I got an Evite to a girlfriend’s birthday party in downtown San Diego in the Gas Lamp district. She had chosen a trendy cool restaurant for a dozen or so of us to have dinner and later hit a club for some more cocktails and dancing. I can tell you right then my head swam at the last line of that invitation. I had not been in a dance club for about 15 years and back then it was a different birthday extravaganza in San Francisco–I would have rather been clubbed like a precocious baby seal then repeat that fiasco.
I am an introvert. I have people skills which all introverts don’t have, some of us simply grunt and point, but me I have my charms. That charm however, does not extend to over 8 people at any given time, so large functions can derail me. I was good for the dinner part of the night as I knew 8 of the 12 people going and they are warm, funny, delightful people who know me just enough to find me engaging and not enough wonder if that new medication they saw on that TV commercial during Dr. Phil might be just what I needed. Going to a dance club however was something I had sworn off years ago but in this instance I would be going with a group of friends, would be drinking my body weight in martini’s and it would be part of my present to the birthday girl. I thought I could man up and put on my party heels that would not send me to the ER before the night was over and try again.
Oh wait, I HAD done all that last time in San Francisco. That time the birthday girl’s name was Tony. We went with a group of close friends to a gay club to dance and celebrate and I drank my body weight in martinis. I was a bigger girl then so we are talking enough Saphire gin to float a boat, ok, ok a yacht. Aw hell…you see where this is going. By the end of that night in San Francisco with thumping house music, glistening nearly naked gay boys, gallons of gin, and day-glow stick necklaces when my friends finally rescued me from behind a huge potted palm in the corner. That corner and its foliage was the safest place I could find in that swirling sea of the great unwashed. When they got me outside on the sidewalk they found out that I was muttering, swearing to God, the Universe and Liberace that I would never be drug to a dance club again. I was young then, I didn’t know it’s bad to say “I’ll never” to the Universe, it’s best to say “I would rather not” because saying “never” really means I need to do this again cause I am a ninny.
This time I figured I would attend the dinner and dash off before they trotted over to the club. I was more concerned with hunting around my closet for the right clothes that proved attractive and comfortable, an oxymoron at it’s best but what I can say it’s hard being a girl. I ambushed two friends of mine to give me feedback. I thought straight guys would be good at this. What I found out was no, no they are not. No, because they are frightened, with good reason.
First, I show John all three pairs of shoe options after getting the general OK on the skirt and shirt ensemble. He came to drop off a birthday card and knows damn well he did not sign up for this. I know because I could hear him screaming in his head as I did my best Vanna in the shoes I was parading in front of him. He had friends in town and could not attend the night’s birthday dance party and thought he had escaped this type of torture, silly rabbit.
“Ok these are the classic match with this pencil skirt” I prattled “as they are paten leather pumps but walking in them is dicey. Drinking and walking could lead to major medical bills” his eyes had glazed at the term “pencil skirt” but I went on.
“The second choice are these heels, they are opened toed and easier to walk in and still work pretty well with the retro thing I got going on.” The last were a casual sandal the safest but least attractive I added when I had showed him what they looked like with a half turn. He had been muttering through most of the fashion show. “ those are nice, that works, what ever you are comfortable in, that’s nice, those look good, whatever you like…” he was praying I could tell. His prayers were answered in the form of David. David was attending the gala and we were going to cab it from my place as not to deal with parking downtown.
I gave David a hug at the door and John screamed “run, man run” ok only in his head but I am pretty sure David heard the telepathic man message because he broke out in a sweat but barely flinched when I told him I had to show him three pairs of shoes I was trying to decide on. He was steeling himself. I did the show again. David made all the right noises and gave me more constructive feedback as to style and function. As he was the one in all likelihood who would be sheparding me to the emergency room when things went boom. I had to give him a hell of a lot of credit, it took nerve to okay the second pair of heels which were as high as the first but a little easier to walk in.
John’s comments on the rerun of the show were to David only. “It doesn’t matter what you say, they wear what they want anyway you know… don’t look them in the eyes when you say that they sense fear…” and things of the like. Both these guys had been married and what I was doing it seems was cruel and all too usual punishment. I have never been married and had only had the option of getting a straight guy’s opinion on clothes so few times it was fun and a novelty. I really did want to know what they thought. Once, when trying on a grey taffeta dress from Banana Republic that made me look like a washer woman from the eastern block I was happy when my boyfriend agreed with me and laughed as hard as I did at the dress. I don’t know what they do to the mirrors in the dressing rooms to make you think you look good but its pure black magic.
So John took off like a big girls blouse to see his friends and David and I headed downtown. He telling me it would be fun to go dancing and he would protect me from well… he really didn’t know, but he would. Oh man this could be ugly. Downtown was already pretty busy when we got there and it was only 7pm. The restaurant was filled with bachelor parties, birthday parties and 20 and 30-something’s out for the hunt. We had a great meal and I drank only half my weight in martinis. It was time to move the party to the club I was lubricated enough that I thought I could try it for a little while. I followed my friends or rather was towed in hand by my friend Cindy a tiny woman who seemed to grow super human strength and speed due to the sake she drank and we teetered trotted our way through the crowded sidewalk. Me, all the while saying “slow down I don’t have medical insurance” I think she thought I was kidding. I was not, me on 3 inch heels is like the statue of liberty coming crashing down, no good can come of it.
We get to the door and we have to pull out our ID’s I look ahead to see that there is an embryo in charge of checking them. When I get to him he starts to look up at me and gets as far as my neck and waves me on. “Time for that tuck,” I think and I slip into the dark club. Getting inside I find David has already paid for me. I thank him and insist I buy the first round. I insist because I didn’t carry a flask for the walk over to calm the anxiety that was welling up like a tsunami. I needed a martini stat in order to not go in search of another palm tree. The young woman who bartended sported leather hot pants and fishnet stockings which made David’s eye’s pop out. The bartender in San Francisco the last time I club hopped had the same outfit on but he had a whole other topography south of the equator. She did a quick job of providing us with libations and we all stood there taking in the scene.
There were monitors with artful pictures of naked woman, black walls, sofa’s in dark corners and a DJ in a cage. I gulped my martini as my friends moved to the dance floor one by one. I do dance. It’s seldom and not unlike Elaine from Seinfeld so it’s a public service that I not. After 30 minutes or so I was alone at the bar being crowded in by youth. I decided to take a walk and look around before I left to stretch out my visit. I moved around the bar to the other side of the dance floor and a guy sidled up to me shoulder to shoulder. He was proud he was as tall as me and grinned at me. I grinned back and thought, “Wow I could have given birth to you.” Looking over the room the only people I could not have given birth to were the ones I came with. Yikes, time for nanna to go home. I thought I would hit the ladies room and then make my goodbyes.
The ladies room air was thick with desperation, glitter body paint and CK perfume. The girls and I am using that term all to literally here, had their hands down their dresses, tube tops and shirts pulling their breasts up and out as to position them in a serving style manner minus the silver tray. I did not miss a beat in step as I swung around and retreated toot-sweet from the cloying “I need to get a new boyfriend, get laid, and find a mate” cloud that was the ladies room. The level of panic to hook-up in general had amped considerably since we walked in; the venue had already doubled its patrons.
I found out later that 20-30 minutes after I left the club had become jam packed and bikinied go-go dancers appeared on ledges and on the bar which prompted my friends to flee as well. By then I was happily home tucked into bed still wide awake to receive the phone call at midnight as to how my cohorts exit worked out and how crazy the club had gotten. Ah the wisdom of age. I had bolted when the time was perfect, there was a taxi waiting as I stepped out of the club. God, the Universe and Liberace were kind to those who know how to grow old gracefully, with humor and cab fare. The next morning as I rolled over in bed and stretched the first stretch of the day I rubbed my eyes. In doing so I saw a dark mark on the inside of my wrist and looked closer, what was there was my stamp from the night before. It simply said “I strut” I laughed and thought “damn straight cookie even without medical insurance.”