coney island of the mind

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-John Updike

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-George Bernard Shaw


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Saturday, July 31, 2004
The first dance is in a dim bar on 2nd and 2nd with no dance floor, no customers, no windows, almost no music. Maybe Careless Whisper or another gay dance song since it is a gay bar and that's where Steve works and that's what she loves, how he doesn't care, doesn't even really seem to notice but must on some level because its the only place he wears loose sleeveless tees that hang conveniently away from his body so you can sneak a peek at his torso from the side. Urge is red lit with TVs that no one watches and during the day coffee sits in a clear glass decanter stained brown from hours and years of heating coffee that no one ever drinks. In the middle of the day, new shy fags come in to get a feel for the place, to get the lay of the land, to decide if it might be a place they could handle twelve hours later when it is dark and pulsing with bodies sliding and folding around one another mysteriously in the dark corners and even right in the line of dusty red light. They order a beer, peel off the label slowly and nervously and look around, look at the TV, look at Steve's torso, and she sits at the bar, sleeves of her black cardigan stretched down over her fingers, picking at edges that fray right into her hands, little black threads floating down onto the wet floor.

She twists one leg around the other, because she knows its flattering, even though he can't see her legs from behind the bar. Steve's hair is wavy and clean from leaving home still wet, no smells yet at the bar for his skin to absorb so he still smells like his shower. She wants to press her face into the space between his pecs, between his perfectly pink and round nipples and smell him, smell him before he becomes the bar.

She sips a tequila sunrise at 2 in the afternoon because why the fuck not and because its pretty and pink and Steve fills more than half the glass with tequila and gives her extra cherries. While he fills the ice chest and replaces the empty liquor bottles from last night with hopeful shiny new ones, while he chops up enough limes and lemons and orange wedges to last him a while, he places a shot glass full of olives in front of her, and she'll eat them one by one, pulling the pits from her mouth when he isn't looking and stuffing them into a napkin. She'll lean forward enough so that he'll just see the top of her cleavage and he'll stand in front of her, arms spread wide, leaning on the bar, a small white towel pressed into one hand. She'll wonder why when his hair is too long and too black and his moustache is too bushy and his face is too unshaven, why she has to press her fingers into the countertop to keep them from shaking, to stop them from picking the threads out one by one from the edges of her sleeves. She'll wonder why she likes it so much that the square bar is sunken into the floor just a little, just enough to put her at his eye level when she sits on a stool, and why its so sexy to be able to look him straight in the eyes when he is actually four inches taller than she is. She'll wonder why he is her type because he is suddenly definitely unquestionably disturbingly her type, and she'll wonder if she could possibly make herself into his. She'll try to pinpoint what exactly is so sexy about a straight man who is equal parts amused and unaffected by his job at a nearly-sleazy gay pick up bar, she'll love that he doesn't care if they see him leering at her, that he doesn't care about coming out to them, that he doesn't try to make them believe he's something that he's not so he can get their money. He'll take what they're willing to pay for the privilege of looking at him, while he mixes them drinks with exactly as much alcohol as he thinks they can handle at that moment.

She'll love that outside there is the blinding white summer sunshine and the searing yellow heat of the city in August, but that inside the door there is dark and cold and quiet and the pretty fuzzy feeling her brain gets as she empties her second glass and she'll love the thin voices that ride the pumping wave of the music and she'll bob up and down thoughtfully in her seat, shake her shoulders at him shamelessly and laugh at herself (as will he) and when it is only them and a sixty year old man sipping a clear cocktail that she assumes in a vodka gimlet, she'll love that that song comes on, that slow song that isn't Careless Whisper because that's too easy and obvious but is slow and silly and endearingly earnest in the same way, and she'll love that he'll take her shaky hand and walk to the end of the bar, her on one side, him on the other, until he can press himself to her body and pull her laughing into a slow dance that reminds her of junior high, except that junior high was never a gay bar, none of her boyfriends ever had a moustache, and she has never felt the greedy 12 year old urge to belong to a boy quite as much as she needs to belong to this one.



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