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Last Dance Before the Pandemic

I poured a glass of red wine and drank it as I got ready to go to the Community Park benefit party half a mile down the road. I put on my nicest shirt, popped a joint in my pocket, and wore my summer shorts out into the cool September night, not quite ready to admit that fall was upon us.

There was a band playing but no one was dancing so I wandered around saying hello to a couple people, handing out my latest 'zine, then hit the dessert booth for a cookie or so.

I got another glass of wine at the drink booth and called a hello over to Chris who was volunteering at the mixed drink side. He looked up and called me Satan, his new nickname for me as he didn't like my rabble-rousing about credit union politics. I had publicly called for the board of directors to change the name back to Southern Humboldt from Vocality, or resign, and his wife was a board member. Satan: has a nice ring to it.

“No more Puffy,” he said. “Satan.” When he had been building my barn ten years ago I had shown up on the job site wearing a puffy shirt one day, my fashion sense absent as usual and ridicule ensued. I wore it only once but nonetheless Puffy became one of my nicknames.

While the next band was getting set up I started talking to a woman by the stage. “Have you had the the tacos yet?” she asked. Before I had a chance to tell her about my restricted diet she said, “Let's get some for the band,” and wrapped her arm around my waist and guided us to the food booth. I circled my arm around her and we marched together to the taco stand. She was tall and attractive with delightful cleavage. She ordered up ten tacos and I pulled out my rag. “Would you like a copy of my 'zine?” I said.

“A 'zine! That's so 90's, I love it!” She folded it away and started up a conversation with the taco boys so I wandered away. I saw her later by herself and said, “Would you like anything to drink? A glass of wine?” Yes, she wanted white and I got my third glass of red. Other people she knew came up to talk to her and I drifted away again.

A few minutes later when I noticed a lull in her social activity I drifted back over for a toast. We talked for awhile about her history growing up in Hayfork and running trim scenes and she, after glancing at my 'zine, proposed that I be the subject of her anthropology project, the last class she needed for her nursing degree. “Sure,” I said. “I'd like that. You want to smoke a joint?”

We went a little ways over and leaned against a big pickup where she lit a cigaret and I puffed on the joint. “Everyone's so dumb here,” she said.

“And you're the superior intelligent one?” I asked. She didn't like that and I tried again. “So who for example is dumb here?”

“It's not like that,” she said. I think I got it: she's forty-one and her peers do not impress her.
Then we were having a collaborative moment, a literary meeting of the minds, two writers, although she hadn't exactly written anything yet. We vowed to do some projects together and I was all excited making plans with this tall goddess by my side. “You should be my creative director,” I gushed. “I have a lot of content but am kind of stuck what to do with it.”

When our wines were mostly gone I said, “Do you want to dance?” She smiled and nodded, took my arm in hers, and lead us up to the stage. She was a wild and lively dancer, just my style, and I kept up with her pretty well. We joined hands, did some moves, and then she took the hands of some other girlfriends and I held on.

She wandered away to huddle with friends nearby a few times then came back for another dance. I joined one of her little social circles once and found that I'd given my 'zine to all but one, so I gave a copy to the girl who was lacking. “Now I control you all,” I said, idiotically.

Emily seemed to be holding on to Graham a lot, two tall attractive people, and then when I saw him holding another woman at the edge of the dancers I said to her, “So, polyamorous?”

There was a very young blond woman on fire dancing in front. She was getting sporadic attention from some other guys and I asked her for a dance. She took my hands and I was twirling her around, then held her close and squeezed her waifish body against me for a few seconds. She was a wild child and I was heading for my hip replacement.

I saw her talking with some friends in a group and I asked what I'd earlier asked to Emily and her friends. “Have you had, like, five drinks or something or are you like this normally?”

“Oh, she's always like this,” one of her attentive friends said, just as Emily's friends had said. Later I asked her, “Are you from LA?”

“Yes!” she said.

I continued rocking out, playing air guitar, air drums, and mirroring the band up front. I had another dance with Emily and one with Jessica, the wild child. I handed her the 'zine, she thought for a moment, then tucked it into her blouse, my thousand words against her breasts, so close to her heart.

Things were winding down and I went up to Emily standing alone beyond the dancers. “Do you want to hear something funny,” I asked. Yes, she did, with a smile.

“Well, I was in Ray's yesterday buying some food and scoping out the wannabee trimigrants and this hot young blond woman with large breasts exploding out of her blouse walked in. I wanted to shout across the check stands 'You're HIRED!'” Emily laughed. “But then I'd have to rip off my neighbor's crop to have work for her,” I added.

The little crowd of dancers grooved on for another hour and once again the right combo of weed, wine, and women had me rocking all over the place. I could have gone on longer but I'd had my fun and decided to head home. Back in the parking lot a woman who I'd randomly given my 'zine to upon arrival a few hours earlier called out that she was trying to remember the phrase under the title of the Gulch Mulch. “'All the pulp that's fit to gulp'” I said.

“That's it!” she said, and started doing voices.

“Wow, that's good,” I said.

“I'm all about improv,” she said, and started doing voices again. “Tell me what to be and do and I'll act it out. My name's Savory.”

“Okay, you're a gangster in Brooklyn trying to rob a bank,” I said. “Wow, that's good,” I said after she did her interpretation. “I usually have some dialogs I wrote in my car here. Do you want to read one?”

“Sure!” she said, “I'd love to.” It was almost eleven but there was a bright light hooked up to an annoying generator nearby. I looked in the car but found that I'd taken the folder of about eight dialogs back into the house. “Well, next time,” I said.

I drove the half mile home after the excitement of meeting Emily, grinding with Jessica, and the many dances in the late summer night. I went to bed without flossing, wondering why I hadn't tried to remember Emily's last name although she told me twice, and why I hadn't danced again with the hot vixen and held her close?

Maybe I made a fool of myself trying too hard or didn't try hard enough. Oh well, the party's over. The next morning when the coffee kicked in all I thought was that nothing really mattered.

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