Loneliness is a dangerous emotion. It can trick you into thinking you still have feelings for an otherwise toxic person. Daytime for me is quite routine, but late at night, the onset of loneliness takes its toll. It grates on my nerves and drives me to places of desperate unhappiness. The unhappiness turns to bitterness. I end up snapping at those who don’t deserve it and instantly regret it. “What’s wrong with me?” I often think. And then I remember.
As time passes, I realize how limited my options are in love. Dating leads to dead ends. Chemistry is lacking. One person wants something different than the other. Personalities clash and I continue to dig deeper for the great love story that Disney promised. All these dysfunctional scenarios are more damaging than the first for one reason: they lead me back to him. The scent of him on my sheets. Waking up next to him in my bed. Marathon love making sessions morning, noon, and night.
Will I find that again? My eggs dry up as I relinquish the search.
The 8 o’clock hour arrives and aloof loner types stand against the wall avoiding eye contact and staring out the glass panes that line the building. The music has started but no one is on the floor. They are huddling near the back, pouring hooch from a suspicious paper bag into half-filled coke cups. Powder, Poser, Pretentious, Plump Girl and Mother, all there.
Plump Girl says she’s been dancing since 4. But art school could not afford charisma. “So now she’s a big fish in a small pond,” gloats Mother. “She’s the best.” “Yeah, I’m the BEST!” echoes Plump Girl.
Powder, Poser, and Pretentious could not tell you what their favorite dance is. They have watched Dancing with the Stars a few times but don’t give a hoot about the sport. “Dancing is not really about dancing,” Pretentious says. “It’s about having fun and spending time with your instructor. We’re going to Vegas next weekend – the Bellagio, of course two rooms. What do you think? I’m separated, NOT divorced. Yet.” “Dancing is all about sex,” chuckles Powder. “Actually, it’s about winning. I always win because I know everyone,” interjects Poser.
Students searching for surrogates.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Ballroom dance in the last three years, it’s that image is everything. Ballroom dance has always had a pristine reputation with its outsiders. Shows like Dancing with the Stars portray it as a fun past time where your worries and weight fall away from you and sculpt you into a marvelous human being. It is perhaps the only industry where traditional gender roles are still in play, however. Women take a proverbial beating – mental, physical, emotional – and are expected to “get back in the kitchen,” or, in this case, frame. Suck it up (suck it in?), don’t say anything, and smile! Even if your horizontal Mambo partner is having an affair with the newly divorced Sally Soccermom who needs a hobby while the kids are in school. As they say in Show Biz, the show must go on! And not just a showcase or competition, but the portrayal that everything is OK and you and your dance partner can “still be friends.” Society wants to believe that there’s still a community untouched by the realities of human error. But dancers do not dance for fun. They dance because they love it, because they need to, because their passion for music and movement drive them to be dancesport competitors.
Like callouses developed from leather strapped shoes, there is an emotional hardening that comes with the industry. The first year is mental boot-camp. Why should your coaches take pity on you? Why should they make exceptions? They’ve seen it all before, if not lived through it. There’s a sense of brotherhood that comes from the pain. Don’t you dare talk about it with non-dancers. Don’t you dare betray the community. We’re all carrying the same hurt, but that’s what unites us.
Orange County, a suburban bubble of contradictions. A cracked consciousness lurks beneath the smooth exterior of a perfectly Botoxed face. Veneers are flashed without the mouth conforming to a smile. A place so beautiful that you don’t want to believe the stereotypes. Your brain muddles denial with reality. Natural beauty is celebrated only in its landscapes. The curves considered desireable are the ones that guide Bentleys and Maseratis down the PCH toward the nearest cultivated waterway. Or the ones you paid for. Money can’t buy tolerance, but wealth indicates social acceptance. Stepford Wives dominate the dating scene, faking orgasms for diamond rings and material things. You’ve got your male gold-diggers, older women with younger men, and wealthy widows waiting to pounce on your age-inappropriate boyfriend. Marriage is for the birds. Send your kids to boarding school. Valium-induced affairs are the new fountain of youth. And as long as there’s always someone younger and hotter fucking you, you’re still relevant. Even if not, you could buy your way into someone’s silicone enhanced chest. It’s OK, because they put Prozac in the water, and the truth is a drag anyway.