I don’t dance. It’s a fact that many women have balked at. Every girlfriend or wife I have ever had has tried, at least once, to liberate my inner Travolta. Come on, move your hips. Come on, feel the beat. Shhh. I can feel the beat in every inch of my body. I’m a poet. When I sit still and listen, I am the beat. Yeah, sure. That’s partially true. I am a natural observer. I feel no desire toward daredevil antics, extreme sports, or the like. Living my life sincerely is adrenaline rush enough. I’m boring. Sorry. Dancing is not my thing, but I will watch you dance for hours. I will watch you pound the floor with your small black boots. I will feel you try to stomp out your pain, stomp out the loss, stomp out the aching inside you.
Her name was Larisa. I went to the club, every week, to watch her dance.
I don’t remember the first time I saw her. There are several candidates. The most likely: I was in college, twenty-or-so-years old, and my friend Micky and I were high. We used to smoke joints behind the library before our film class, and smuggle beer in Coke cans into the showings, sit in the back and drink. College was awesome. Each week we watched a different classic film, high out of our minds, and participated in an analytical discussion afterwards. The professor loved our attention to detail. We had a good eye. He applauded. Being stoned in a class and owning it always made me smile inside.
As we left the library, we noticed a gathering of girls huddled around a table. A sign on the table read “Women’s Studies.” Behind the table sat Larisa. Her hair was streaked and frosted and frazzled, her eyebrow was pierced, she was wearing a fading leather motorcycle jacket, she was five feet tall, and she instantly hated me. I left her very little choice. Once I saw the Women’s Studies sign, my drunken, marijuana smoked, movie-laced wit produced this little gem:
“Hello, I would like one woman to study. No PMS, please.”
Some of the hottie girls giggled. Some of them chuckled and groaned. Micky snorted his approval. Larisa just stared. Her eyes were cold and blue and hard. Her expression was more than angry. Anger wasn’t the half of it. She looked disappointed in me. She looked as if she wanted me to explain why I had just decided to ruin the god damn world. She was so stern. She was so insistent and small and her body looked so strong. I wanted to fuck her instantly.
But she decided on Micky. He was tall and lean. He had spiked hair and blue eyes. He drove a hot car and listened to Ministry. He drank like a fucking fish, and he loved to dance. Larissa told him about a local club, and it was done. Every Thursday, I was standing in a dark corner watching Micky dance with Larissa. I should say, dance near Larissa. She wasn’t one for partners. She owned the floor. She stomped around with no regard for others, yet never disturbed a soul. It was entrancing. The way her muscled flexed and released, the rhythm of her twirling on her toe, the stomp of a foot to the beat of each song—I wanted to feel every inch of this woman’s body. I wanted to be beneath her every commanding push, her every grind of disappointment with the world. I wanted to hold her by the throat and feel every orgasmic scream of rage vibrating my palm.
Micky disagreed. She was too short for him, or something. He never was clear with his objections, but Micky had weird issues with women, so I let it go. Week after week, I watched her dance with Micky. Week after week, my fever for her grew. Micky felt awkward with her pursuit.
“You know, man—If I were you—I’d be all over her,” I said casually. “You want her?” he asked. I denied interest. I was just saying, he should stop being a baby. Shit, or get off the pot. But if you don’t want her bothering you, I mean, I could try to get her attention. Yeah, of course I would do that for you. This was my favorite routine. I called it: taking the cute girl away from my friend, who would never make the move, and making him think it was his idea. Yeah, I’m sometimes a real douchebag like that. Sun Tzu would be proud.
He didn’t think I could do it. He almost dared me to try. She hated me from the start, and now she barely acknowledged my existence. Larisa danced. I watched and waited. The seasons wore on. In the spring, there was a party. I was going with Micky. Larisa would be there. I told Micky that tonight was the night. He said, “yeah, sure.” At eleven o’clock, and drunk as fuck, I suggested the party play truth or dare. I was going to battle Larisa.
At first, the questions went around the room. Who would you fuck? Who have you fucked? Or a dare: kiss so and so’s nipples. Silly shit like that. Then someone called on me.
Truth or dare? Truth, I say. Who would you fuck in this room? Larisa, I answer, with no hesitation, and the room explodes with OOooooOOOOoooos. I call Larisa. Truth or dare? Truth, she stares. Do you know that I watch you dance? I ask. Sometimes, she said, and we were off. By the end of the game, the air was clear, and Larisa and I had picked up each other’s scent.
She took the initiative and called the next day. She got my number from Micky. I loved her for that. She asked me out until I said yes. We drove to the beach. I read her a poem. She liked it. We kissed by the ocean. And the rest is a mystery.
No one knows for sure what happened next, and everyone still wonders: did I have sex with Larisa? Only she and I know. I kinda like it that way. And besides, the point of the story is not really Larisa. We dated for awhile. It didn’t work out. We became friends. The end. The point of the story is to demonstrate karma—how one choice leads to another in a web of interaction.
Observe: Larisa had two roommates. The first, Dawn, was a lesbian. Well, she was dating a woman, but she didn’t call herself a lesbian. Dawn was confused, and Dawn was gorgeous. I was with Larisa, and I wanted Dawn. It was a bad scene.
It gets worse. The other roommate, Brenda, was always flirting with me. Brenda was not my type. It was becoming clear that neither was Larisa, really. Dawn was my type, but she was with her girlfriend, Shannon. And round and round it went, until one night it exploded.
We argued. Larisa was furious; I was screaming. In a fit I walked into Brenda’s room and slammed the door. She was on the phone. Out of nervousness, she did all she could think to. She told me about her call.
Hey, she said, I’m on the phone with my friend from Connecticut. She’s in California for graduate school. Don’t you want to go to graduate school? You should talk to her.
I didn’t care. In that moment, I wanted to die. I hated my life. I hated my luck with women. I hated myself. But I picked up the phone, anyway, and said hi. On the line was my future ex-wife, Sylvia.
And it really is time for me to tell that story.