Friday, July 07, 2006

Body Isolations


A friend of mine's wife works at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio, the one in the strip mall sandwiched between Smoker's Outlet and Bridal Veils and More. She keeps the books and answers the phones and every fifteen minutes, she's required to stand up and clap for the people taking dance lessons. I've always wanted to go inside one of these places to see the instructors, who I imagined as dancers who had tried their luck in the Big City, but didn't make it. Nothing interests me like the dream deferred. But my friend said that no, mostly the instructors are people who took lessons and like to dance. The only bad part, he said, was that the instructors could never stop dancing even when there weren't any clients and had to dance alone, much like the patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Bingo! I knew there was a reason I was drawn to imagining the place as the setting for my next story.

Dancing always seems sad to me, even when it's born of happiness and maybe especially then. One of my favorite opening movie scenes is Bob Fosse in All That Jazz popping dexies with his coffee and the Angel of Death lurking nearby, opening his very bloodshot eyes as if they were someone else's and saying, It's showtime! I perform this little routine myself before I have to go somewhere or do something I don't want to do. If there's a mirror around, I'll open my eye with my fingers on the lashes and look at it until it seems like it belongs to someone else, someone with the kind of stamina to dance even if nobody is watching and look, to all the world, as if she's loving it.


Michelle's Spell of the Day

"My friends know that happiness to me is when I'm miserable instead of suicidal." Bob Fosse

All That Jazz

1 shot of brandy
1 glass of champagne
a splash of chambord

Benedictions and Maledictions

I’ve Lived in Detroit For A Long Time

As a teenager, I’d dream of Philip Roth. Philip and I
would always be riding a train, talking about novels,
and New York City. Now I’m dreaming of Eminem,
and he’s not pissed off and angry like his songs, no
Eight Mile snarl that speaks of strip clubs and fights.
Instead, he talks about his love for his children, how
he can’t sleep without pills, the stresses of the road,
even offers me backstage passes to his show. We
share a bottle of cheap vodka, Mohawk, Detroit’s
finest. He tells me he likes the bullet around my
neck and asks what I do. When I tell him I’m a writer,
the edgy Eminem returns until I assure him that I’m
not a journalist and anyway, this is all a dream. He
relaxes, offers me more vodka. The city gleams before
us, and I wonder what I would write if this were real.
Would I tell his secrets or simply say, Detroit is not
the most beautiful city and yet you cannot help but
love it, especially at night when Eminem offers you
some vodka and doesn’t care that you’re nobody special.

15 comments:

Cheri said...

According to my friend he [Eminem] really likes his Pizza Rolls.

I'd die if I had to clap for some assholes every 15 minutes. Of course, I probably wouldn't do it with a smile on my face, but more of a sneer.

I love the photo! Really, I love anything bearing some sort of hint of cleavage.

Anonymous said...

Em has secrets? What you see is what you get. I'll take Jerry Mathers over Marshall Mathers every time. I liked Kim Basinger in the movie, though, especially when she handed Em a beer. Can't beat those mobile home mamas.

cindy cobb said...

Michelle,
what a beautiful smile you have, thanks for making the days burn brighter. AP: didn't your mother tell you you'd go blind if you did that too many times? Good one, sister Cheri.
xo;
Cindy

Anonymous said...

You think it's funny, don't you Michelle. You and the others, the other femmies, think locking me up here is funny. Kind of like turning the tables on The Madwoman in the Attic. Well, it's not. It's taking advantage of the disadvantaged. Just like I do to you. Well, it may be fair after all. But listen, sister, I may be blind, but I'll find my way out of here. And when I do, I'll quote yooz all to death. You can bet on it. Because the deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball. Is there a window in here?

Paul said...

My Cajun Q,
that angle makes me dizzy but in a good way. Spinning. Rock out little sweethart angel

R2 C2!

R's Musings said...

I once took a few lessons at an Arthur Murray studio--couldn't afford to keep it up and had no partner to make it fun. The instructor told me I was great at following his lead...I was young then, and would've followed any man's lead that had a cute ass! lol Great post & pic, M! --R

Anonymous said...

Damn Michelle. I thought Mohawk Dry Vodka was the tops of it's class. Enjoy your writing. You are truly gifted. MW

The Laughorist said...

I like your posts. Anyone quoting Flannery O'Connor and Phillip Roth (if not Henry Roth), well, that's fine by me. I saw your profile and saw some commonalities. Did you ever read Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life (title may be off). Fantastic. Then about five years ago, my daughter and I met him at Elaine's. Very cool. And Raymond Carver. Even his titles are delicious. Take a look at my blog; you might enjoy it, esp. some of the earliest posts. Will the Tigers go all the way? tomorrow I go to Shea for a Mets doubleheader -- that sounds dirty.

The Laughorist said...

oh, the other was Anne Sexton...do you know her gem "Small Wire"? exquisite

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

What a lovely picture and post as always. I have a new idea for you: if you have not tried Mon Jin Lau, it seems like the perfect setting for you: pan-Asian food, stylish bar, dramatic setting. You'd love it if you haven't tried it already.

Bravo!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Em will always be the scrawny kid working at Gilbert's Lounge where my wife and I went for dinner. He used to spit back then; we thought he was goofy. As you can see, I'm not a big fan of his. --Jim

Anonymous said...

Today's triple-header "Quote of the Day": Utopian movements succeed because they tell people something they wish desperately to hear. Whether or not the message is true is besides the point.--R. Kimball; Gonna get me a big plate of beef chow mein--W. Zevon; She's a freak(Michelle), so chic--anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd "Quote of the Day": And creamy. Such a caramel nooget--anon.

Anonymous said...

We want the spell. We want the spell. We want the spell. We...,etc.

Sheila said...

Like the post today. I have the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest but have not had a chance to read it yet. Sounds promising