Monday, April 25, 2005

How Was Your Weekend?

A work associate of mine today asked me how my weekend was. I immediately answered, "Great!" very enthusiastically, which piqued her interest, and mine too, come to find out, because on reflection, it wasn't "great" in the traditional sense; it was funny in the traditional sense, and actually kind of pathetic as it was happening, so now looking back on it, it's just fun to laugh about it. As strange as it was for her to ask me on a Wednesday about my weekend, it may also seem a bit delinquent for me to write about it here, but, oh well.

Linda got an email from a church singles' mailing group about a dance in Pasadena on Saturday night. Now, we've been to a Pasadena dance before, and it was excruciatingly painful. There were about 40 people there, awful music, and the only ones who were dancing were the ones who had come with a date or made arrangements to meet someone there. Suffice it to say, we did not participate in any dancing ourselves that night. I'd like to think that it's because we were the youngest ones there (and at 38 and 42, we're no spring chickens) and also the best-dressed, but that makes me sound like a self-entitled snob, so I'll admit to the fact that we left 20 minutes after we got there, running, actually -- screaming in frustration, humiliation and "why did we even bother!", and give the other attendees the benefit of the doubt that we didn't allow ample opportunity to participate in any actual dancing.

It's a legitimate question, then, to wonder why, if we had such an awful experience the last time, we would subject ourselves to a potential repeat of a horrific evening. Good question. The email promised a "swing" theme, which sounded promising. Maybe that would attract more people, since swing dancing is what all the young, hip crowd is doing these days. Okay, it's what the young, hip crowd was doing five years ago, but better late than never, right? The email also encouraged theme or era dressing, which sounded fun too.

So much fun, in fact, that it prompted a shopping trip to find something great to wear. Even though I got some new clothes, I wound up wearing things I already had in my closet, with the addition of a cute, fun-patterned, pink scarf thingy around my waist. Very different for me, very daring, and though I didn't look like Bette Davis or anyone else from the 40s, I think I looked like a fun version of something from the 50s. Linda also looked smashing in some new pants and a cute sweater.

In short, we felt confident in how we looked and deemed ourselves ready for a night on the town. Or at least ready for 20 minutes of circling the perimeter of the gym floor, getting something to eat, wondering what we were doing there when there were only 40 people there, none of whom seemed remotely interested in us and leaving again.

Because that is essentially what happened.

Our first sight of the giant, inflated, lit-up Easter bunny in the foyer should have tipped us off that not all was completely right with the world. What the heck? Easter decorations three weeks after the holiday? What's that all about? Well, okay, whatever. Then the guy taking our money looked like, well, a modern-day pirate, really. Completely bald (not bad -- I like bald men), sporting a very unfashionable facial hair growth of mustache gone all sorts of haywire. It wasn't a goatee, not a beard, and not exactly a mustache either. It was some sort of weird lip hair that went down to his jaw line, halfway between his ears and chin. It was just weird and sick and wrong. Plus, he was speaking in some (self-acknowledged) fakey Hungarian accent. Whatever, non-impressive pirate dude.

We went to the door and tentatively poked our heads in to get a feel for how many people were there. While I was counting the fact that there were more people sitting at the tables and chairs than there were on the dance floor (with a healthy 40:6 ratio), I was also vaguely aware of someone shouting my name. But I figured it couldn't be for me, because I don't know anyone personally at these things. But then Linda said, "Oh, Brad (not his real name, because this is the guy that you really don't want to have acknowledge you at these things because he's socially not quite right and mentally not all there either, so you really don't want to get tagged by him for the rset of the night, even though he's a nice guy, you don't want to spend all night talking to him because it's uncomfortable in very many ways, and you certainly don't want to limit yourself) is here." We kind of waved at Brad, then horrified at how many people were dancing compared to how many people were eating, decided that the food must be pretty good, so we went to check that out.

We went to the kitchen and got some food to nibble on, then went back to the gym to scope out the safest place to sit. That means not giving any dweebs the wrong idea just because you've sat at their table to eat, but not wanting to alienate anyone either. There was one older lady sitting by herself, and trying to keep in mind our attitudes of we're not looking to get married here, just to meet new people, we decided to go sit by her.

Dee, and I don't know if that's her name or not, but I think she said it was, was an interesting character. She too, had gotten all spiffed up for the dance. Well, not exactly according to my definition for getting all spiffed up, but for her, I guess it was. This was, after all, a dance, and she was dressed and there, so I guess it was her definition. She was wearing a pink florally skirt, a pink t-shirt with some sort of character or writing on it, a bandana around her neck, crew socks that had given up their elastic ghost and were crumpled down around her ankles, and an old pair of running shoes. For accessories, she was wearing her Buddy Holly glasses tied with a shoelace. Oh, and there were wads of toilet paper sticking out of her ears. To, you know, drown out the (not) loud swing and easy listening music that was playing.

The toilet paper made for an interesting conversational exchange. She wanted to talk to us, but was unwilling to take out the toilet paper to make it easy for her to understand us. She asked us who was singing this song. Linda, who knows all things musical, immediately said, "James Taylor."

"What?" she hollered back at us.

"James Taylor," said more emphatically and loudly this time. "Either him or his son Ryan."

"WHAT?" she bawled.

"James Taylor!" shouted Linda. "Or his son Ryan, but I'm pretty sure it's James."

"James Taylor," she fairly snorted back. "No it's not. It must be that other one you said, his son. I don't believe it's James. Dan!" She yelled to the DJ sitting 20 feet away. "Who is this singing?"

Dan, rightly so, did not reply or acknowledge her. Dee got up and said, "I'm going to go find out. It's not James Taylor." She got up and started walking over to the DJ table.

Linda muttered, "Oh good. Yes, do go find out. I'm sure I'm right. I hope I win." And Dee, who couldn't hear a shouted conversation from 3 feet away, was apparently perfectly capable of hearing a mumbled comment from 10 feet away, because she turned around and shot Linda a dirty look. All that with the toilet paper still intact.

She wandered back, sat down, and Linda asked, "Well? Was I right? Do I win?" Dee confirmed that it was, indeed, James Taylor, but managed to say it in a way that conveyed she knew it all along.

I won't bother to go into all of our exchanges with her, though there weren't many, they all just went downhill from there. When the next song came on, she asked who was singing that one, and Linda told her Dean Martin. She cocked her head to the side, the better to hear through the toilet paper barricade, and said, "Yes, you're right." Then a women's voice started singing and she said, "Who's that?" Without giving either of us a chance to reply, she went on, "It must be Dean Martin's wife. What was her name?"

I, giving up all pretense of politeness said, "Mrs. Martin," which started the whole "WHAT???" thing again. She then excused herself to go get another baked potato. She brought it back to the table, unwrapped it from the foil and proceeded to eat it dry like an apple. Then she asked me if I had a checkbook. "Not with me," I said, wondering where this was leading.

"I don't have one either. I can't have one. I can't balance a checkbook. Too hard. I just have a day-to-day savings account." And having shared with us her financial accumen, just then noticed that some man she apparently had her eye on was dancing with someone else, so she got up to be closer to the dance area. Only, not just at the perimeter of the dance floor, she actually stood about three feet away from where this couple was standing and just stared at them.

We used that opportunity to observe the other dancers, and nothing had changed. The same six people were dancing with each other, and the other 40 attendees were leaning back in their chairs with their Honey-Baked ham dinners in front of them, clearly with no intention of budging to dance.

So. We left. Well, we started to leave, but decided to stop in the kitchen first to get some more strawberries. We ran into Brad again who started rambling about the singles' newsletter that he was trying to get out to us. Then he pointed Carl out to us and told us that Carl was the one responsible for telling him, Brad, all the details of the different events. Carl, hearing his name mentioned, turned around and said, "What? I'm just the messenger."

I was still trying to be (semi) polite and social and said, "So, we shouldn't shoot you then?" Linda started laughing immediately. Brad and Carl just looked at me blankly while crickets chirped. Then, deciding that I must be socially retarded, went back to talking about some singles' conference they were going to, at which point Linda and I snuck out the door behind them, and ran screaming to the car.

I want to enjoy these dances; I really do. But it's so hard when I feel like I'm either the youngest one there, or the most normal, or just really not interested in any other males close to my age because they're

I'll tell you what happened at the last dance we went to in Irvine, and you can come up with your own adjective of the guys my age. There was a group of four or five guys who were all enthusiastically dancing. With girls considerablly younger than themselves, and not nearly as cute as me. That says something about the guys right there. Then, as they would take breaks between songs, they would walk up to one of the large fans in the corner of the gym, pulling and tugging at their shirts as if to will more circulation on their hot, sweaty bodies, then stand in front of the fan holding their arms up so they could air out. Niiiice.

Besides their obvious questionable taste in fashion, one of them was sporting a ratty, torn t-shirt with a cartoon sketch of Santa Claus on it. I wondered why, since this was early February, but upon closer examination, saw that Santa was carrying a gift and underneath it said, "I have a large package."

Yeah, I know. That's what I thought too. I couldn't believe he was wearing that to a church. Dance.

You can begin to see why I don't think my eternal mate is exactly waiting for me at one of these things. I will try to go as often as I feel brave, if only so I don't lose all my social skills (which apparently don't really matter), but the type of guy I want isn't airing his armpits out in front of a fan, or wearing stupid t-shirts, or hunched over a baked potato.

Back in Pasadena, we decided that we looked way to good to just go back home and spend the night in front of the TV, so we decided to go to a karaoke bar. I won't go into all the details about that, but I will say that at least I got acknowledged by more guys there than I have at one of these dances. It may be the alcohol doing the looking (theirs, not mine, as I don't drink), but I'm not exactly looking for any encounters of the drunken kind, either.

So, here I am, still trying to figure out the best place for me to put myself to meet any sort of a man I'm interested in who can handle me. I'm so glad that I don't have to rely on guys' opinions of me to have any sort of self-esteem, or else I'd be very depressed indeed.

Meanwhile, I'll just keep going to these lovely activities and collecting material to put here. That's more fun anyway.

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