Betty Duffy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Engaging the World Part 3: The Blues Bar

We sat on a couch in a U-shaped arrangement right in front of the band, and the crowd that assembled around us looked like this: a black woman with long cornrows, a serious sober expression and brows that came to a point at the bridge of her nose. She wore a shear blouse that hung low and tight around her pancake breasts, one of which was decorated with a heart tattoo. Next to her was a black granny who looked like she could just as well have been bopping her shoulders to the Baptist choir, but she was at a blues bar on a Friday night. Next to her, another granny, this one with cropped grey hair, happy to stay back on the deep cushions waving her arms over her head. Not smiling, but welcoming, nonetheless, passing around a baggie full of gum and mints. Next to her a middle aged white woman in a knit turtleneck, black tapered jeans, high heeled boots: a sexy suit from the late 80s. Her hair was shoulder length, her expression: “I am liberated. I own it.” Her moves: tucking one leg under herself on the couch, kneeling up, legs confidently straddled to talk to someone. Next to her was a gay male couple, a petite pixie guy in tiny, thick glasses who wanted to work his way around the circle that formed on the dance floor, being spun around by each person, starting with his lover, who at first became my default dance partner. Dressed in black with a blonde ceasar cut, the lover put his hands over his heart, pretending my pregnant dance moves were stealing it—nice act. My husband tried to stay on the couch and only dance to the slow songs. But one of the grannys kept pulling him up and saying to me, “You tell him to get the lead out of his ass!” So he danced with me in his funny way of making his tall body conjure a jointed letter S--ensuring that no one thought he was serious about his dance moves.

The band played slow at first: a group of grey haired black men with stoic expressions. Stix on drums eyed the lead singer warily, a baseball cap plunked on top of his head with clouds of hair sticking out on either side. Bass was a shadow, never cracking a smile, staying out of the way. Keyboard dressed all in black with a large gold medallion. He was short with jaunty braids that swayed with him as his considerable biceps pulsed with each note.

Lead singer wore a shiny long jacket and an expression that said, “I smell everything—every single one of you—and you stink good.” By the second song he was rolling his eyes, thrusting his hips, giving air spankings with the neck of his guitar and offering benedictions to the crowd between numbers.

Also dancing was a wiry, long-grey-haired, pock-marked white man in a black tank top. You could see the body odor radiating off of him and he was all over a delicate Asian woman with breasts the diameter of my 6-year-old’s head. She had on a tight shirt, worn as a dress, and every step she took seemed to put her in peril of showing her rear end to everyone in the bar. Her expression was the most forced smile I’d ever seen as she received his kisses and struggled to appear interested in the things he whispered in her ear.


Elizabeth said...

sounds like a good friday night!

Pedge said...

You are so "cool!' I love this evening out. If it were Dick and I, Dick wouldv'e been the one with the smooth moves and I would've been doing the funky 'S' trying to fit in! He was one blessed with the gift of groove. (Dick, by the way, was really Pedge's husband's name) Another thing this post reminds me of is that some student at USC or somewhere is cut and coping your work and turning it in at his/her beginning writing course as their own! The professor thinks he's got talent!
Much love, Pedge