Friday, July 07, 2006
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.