I thought that I had done away with her in the last installment of my yet-to-be-published autobiography, a book that hopefully will be a work in progress for a long time to come because I’m far from being finished with this life. With any luck, I’ll be lucid enough in my last hours to dash it off to my publisher, and it will be my final wave to the world. But the Ditsy Disco Diva popped up again recently, and she arrived arrayed in her usual veil of obtuseness. Thank goodness a friend was having none of it and saw to it that our girl was apprised of her dim-wittedness and in so doing, made sure she experienced her just desserts. You see, the thing about the Ditsy Disco Diva that is most disturbing to me is her blissful state of self-delusion, a condition that so often blinds her to the truth about other people, as well as herself, both good and bad.
By now, you might have guessed that the Ditsy Disco Diva is me, and this little incident reminded me of other times that I’ve been on the receiving end of a much-needed comeuppance. I don’t know about you, but episodes like this serve as life-shaping moments for me, and although they are jarring at the time, eventually I regard them as little gifts of grace that communicate to me that my old identity has worn out and that I’m ready for a change. They are breakthroughs, epiphanies. They are the kisses that bring me to my true self; the someone, or something, that cracks my wall of thorns; the fairy godmother that transports me to an improved existence. The following story is an example:
Finally, I felt confident that I had extricated myself from an on again and off again relationship in which I had been involved for far too long than was good for me, and I had begun to date other men again. This was back in the days of disco, and the city where I reside played host to a swinging disco scene (which I loved, by the way…it is really great dance music). During the time that we were together, my former boyfriend (I’ll call him “Tipsy”) and I frequented the several discothèques on a regular basis where, because of his two left feet, he sat out the dancing and drank to excess while putting the moves on other women, and I, with my dancing-teacher-twinkle-toes, whirled and twirled with other partners at will. I held my own on the dance floor, which made me pretty popular, as well as pretty full of myself. All of this activity also kept me sober, which for obvious reasons was a good thing. In addition, my clear-headedness made it possible for me to weed through the stable of gorgeous and studly guys ever-present in each of the clubs, not only for the purpose of finding suitable dance partners, but also for determining among them the most likely replacement for Tipsy. I might add that all of the guys were ready and willing. I didn’t know then, as I do now, that what is uppermost in the minds of guys like this is closing the deal, and it isn’t until they’ve suffered the consequences of a few bad deals that they learn to act cautiously around the corral.
Being a bit timid following my long ordeal with Tipsy, my first candidate was safe Steve, my good friend of many years, and my best dance partner. We had met in the early 1960s when we were fellow teachers at one of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios in town. Subsequent to my one marriage and divorce and his two marriages and two divorces, we had run into each other again at a discothèque, renewed our friendship, and made a point of dancing together whenever possible. My breakup with Tipsy being official, Steve and I took to making the rounds at the clubs as platonic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers wannabes.
In the meantime, Tipsy wasn’t taking so well to my decision to break up with him once and for all. He got it in his mind that he needed to follow me, and wherever Steve and I went, a fuming Tipsy was sure to show up. At the close of one evening, as we approached it to leave, we discovered that the front tires of Steve’s car were slashed. On another night, a cocktail glass full of booze and cubes was hurled through the air and glanced off of the side of Steve’s head. A nasty gash and copious blood ensued. Needless to say, Steve grew wary of being seen with me, thereafter.
Not to worry—there were still plenty of studlies in my stable of Baryshnikovs. I chose Tony as candidate number two. With Tony, I got smarter than I had been with Steve. I managed to steer Tony to nightclubs on the opposite side of town where I was sure Tipsy would never find us. Three or four dates into our time together, Tony and I were blissfully happy. Finally, I had found my one true romance, and to top it off, I had managed to give Tipsy the slip. Moreover, Tony and I were approaching a turning point: all of the signs were clear that we were ready to declare ourselves a couple before God and all of His creation.
One balmy evening, Tony and I were cozied up to the bar of an out-of-the-way nightclub, and with heads touching, we whispered sweet nothings into each other’s ear. A large and familiar shadow sneakily slid up the side of my face, and lo and behold, it was…you guessed it: Tipsy. Nonchalantly, Tipsy grabbed the backrest of the barstool to the right side of Tony, scraped it away from the bar, and turned it to face Tony. Lowering himself onto the barstool, Tipsy commenced to stare down my date. Remembering Steve’s fate, I held my breath in fear of Tony’s destiny at the hands of this crazy man with whom I had allowed myself to be infatuated for a time.
“This is my woman, Guy,” Tipsy said to Tony with a threatening jerk of his hand that I was sure was aimed at Tony’s nose, but to my relief, Tipsy stretched out his right leg and plunged the hand into the front pocket of his trousers. The reprieve was short-lived as I realized the possible implications of such a move and nearly fainted in fear of the gun I imagined would appear in his hand. Recovering my equilibrium, I screeched a high c note that shook the rafters of the room while digging my long and hard fingernails into Tony’s left arm. A large roll of bills in denominations of fifties and one hundreds (Tipsy was wealthy and always carried this kind of cash) appeared in his beefy palm instead. “I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you leave right now and never see Linda again,” Tipsy said as he slapped a crisp bill on the bar in front of Tony.
One arm folded over the other in front of him on the bar, Tony leaned forward as if to confirm to himself the authenticity of the bill. His head swiveled to Tipsy for a moment or two. It swiveled back to the cash. At long last, Tony’s head swiveled to me. Dropping my hands from his gouged arm in readiness of our leaving Tipsy in our wake as we exited the club, I raised my confident eyes to Tony’s. His head swiveled back to the bill just as his right arm swiveled toward it, too. As swiftly as a cobra making a strike, Tony scooped the money into his hand, jumped up from his barstool, and high-tailed it out of the place.
Dear Reader: If you find evidence of obtuseness in this posting, I implore you to have pity on me and to let it slide. I promise you that it isn’t intentional. I suspect it is the loss of a slew of brain cells that occurred with each bad choice of a man in my life. No, no, I’ve changed my mind. Please let me have it, if you are of a mind to do so. I can take it! If I survived Tipsy and Tony, I can survive anything!
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