After taking a break to complete the Grass trecena illustrations and blog, I’ve managed to wrap up my second short story about the dance in this old dame yet, incorporating the valuable comments of an old friend who’s a respected writer in her own right. She thinks, as do I, that I’m crossing some lines in the usual treatment of the relationship between the (much) older and the newest generation.
In fact, these aren’t stories about me, but sheer fictions about young folks I supposedly encounter in my ecstatic dance evenings (usually at least twice a week). This second story is entitled “Better Buy a Dozen,” about the old man offering grandfatherly advice to a young fellow who doesn’t know what kind of guy he should think of himself as.
Since I have no image specific for this story, I think I’d best simply use the old picture of Five Flower dancing again–like a logo for the short-story series I’m planning on the theme of the Old Man Dancing. He comes from my re-creation of the Codex Borgia Flower trecena:
This June 2022 being Gay Pride Month, I’m inspired to think about myself, to coin a new, easily deciphered adjective, as an “elgibaitique” writer. (And an antique one at that.) Apart from a few legitimately nonfiction books, my writing has been in a decidedly gay vein, an old queen reminiscing about his scandalous youth before we gays became an accepted part of society, if we have indeed done so yet.
Now that I’ve memorialized the dramatic first half of my life, I’m not inclined to belabor the mundane second half, no matter its fascinating mature experiences. Instead, I’ve been feeling the urge to write fiction and have been chewing on some grandiose historical ideas that I may not be able to accomplish. Nevertheless, I’ll probably give them a try someday.
To stretch my imaginative, creative muscles, I’ve taken a shot at a short story—my first short fiction since “Traveling Men” over 30 years ago. Obeying the old maxim to “write what you know about,” I set it amongst real details of my ageing queen’s current monastic life and invented events that could easily but most certainly won’t happen. That’s a wide-open field for taletelling. This story called “Whatever Works” springs from one of my few remaining social activities, ecstatic dance.
For many decades, gay bars were the best and often only venue for socializing and cutting rugs. Now that we’ve supposedly been absorbed into broader society, those gay institutions don’t exist anymore. Like everyone else, gay folks must rely on distanced electronic media for socializing. Now my only outlet for the ecstasy of dance is in world music and modern rhythms, shoeless, wordless, unchoreographed, and uninhibited. The crowds are wild mixes of ages, genders, inclinations, attitudes, and dance styles, paying no attention to the idiosyncratic moves of others. I wish I’d discovered ecstatic dance sixty years ago, but in fact, that’s what I was doing as a solitary teenager—dancing all by myself in our living room to American Bandstand on the TV.
We don’t know who she is, where she comes from, or why, but when Joy asks you to dance, never say no. Let her lead your body and mind into her perfect world. I’ve just come home from two hours dancing with her, and it was well worth the two years of waiting. So long in solitary confinement, albeit in the ivory tower of my penthouse, my old face hidden from friend and foe, nowhere fun to go… I could easily deal with making my own meals and soon came to prefer them to eating out. It’s not the lifting of the mask mandate that brought Joy to my dance, but the simple opportunity to dance again.
She’s had little reason for Joy to visit me these plague years, and Lord knows, there’s nothing to invite her over considering the present world situation with democracy and Ukraine under attack. Perhaps Joy dropped in on me because tomorrow is Mardi Gras! Vive Mardi Gras!
Last night, I spent a splendid while in her trance (influenced by my current obsession with things Aztec), when I felt myself a nagual (embodiment) of Five Flower, the god of music, dance, games, singing, and lots of other cool things. Here’s what he looks like in Codex Borgia dancing (on left) for Huehuecoyotl, the Old Coyote, the great god of Fun. Vive Mardi Gras!
Usually, I’ve felt myself an incarnation of Dionysus (Bacchus), and I think I’ve done a rather divine job of the imposture over the many decades of my history. Hey! I’ve just realized that Joy is probably the daughter of Terpsichore, the Greek Muse of Dance. Vive Mardi Gras!
In case you’re not familiar with my gay life or my treasured avocation, my motto is “There’s Dance in the Old Dame Yet!” I guess you could say I started dancing 70 years ago: first as a plump 10-year-old (miserable) square-dancer, and by 13, I was rocking round the clock, so to speak. My teens were ruled by American Bandstand. I won’t bore you with the many dancing styles that led up to these later years of ecstatic dance. But Joy seems to like the way this old man dances, and she really cut a rug with me yesterday evening. Vive Mardi Gras!