"Please Don't Talk about Love Tonight..."

song du jour: I Love the Night Life, Alicia Bridges

mood: funky

When I was 25, I dated the greatest guy. We met on one of the many occasions I attended 'Disco Hell Night' at a long defunct club that was downtown. It was the kind of place you could just get out and dance, whether there was anyone else dancing with your or not. There I was throwing down to a 70's diva, when this big guy, who looked to weigh about 6 times what I did, made a gesture with his hand to indicate "you & me dance together, baby." "Yikes! I'd be squashed alive!" I thought. In my complete panic to solve the problem without hurting the guy's feelings (I never used to handle unwanted come ons very well.), I instinctively made the same gesture toward another guy nearby, whom I was dimly aware was also throwing down solo for the love of it. This guy's eyebrows shot up over his head as he smiled and moved just a little closer to take this little damsel in distress up on her offer.

He not only turned out to be a nice guy, he had a bunch of nice friends with him, which is always a good clue one hasn't just picked up a psychopath. He looked a little like Tom Hanks only even much better looking with 6' of bod to swoon over. Though I was a little alarmed that anyone would be wearing khaki shorts and docksiders in the early 90's, his preppiness turned out to be incongruously charming. We dated for a year. He danced like Fred Astaire without so much as a single dance class under his belt. What he didn't know in established steps he made up for in sheer joy. I've never seen a straight guy, who loved to dance more, nor a partner, who ever made me feel more like the belle of the ball at every chic club in town.

I have to break for a second here and relate the further weirdness of that first evening in the interest of illustrating just how bizarre life is. My new hunk offered to walk me to my car, an idea which seemed wise, given that the odds he was a nutter were less than the odds of what might happen to a woman on her own at 2am in a downtown Atlanta parking lot. As we began making our way through the crowded bar area to get to the door, he looked back to find me not behind him, but suspended about 6' in the air.

One of the only other guys I ever met dancing - ironically at the old location of that same club a year earlier - had scooped me up as I was passing, and was holding me up to his face while my high heeled clad feet dangled a foot off the ground. He began drunkenly screaming, "Victoria!!! I can't believe I let you get away!!! You were the love of my life...Victoria!!!" Imagine a 6'4" Stanley from Streetcar just as loud, dramatic, and lost but without all the anger. Taking precedence over my embarrassment at the situation was the terrifying creeping I felt of my very short, very tight dress starting to go... up... way too far... This was another of those moments in my life when wearing a thong proved less than prudent. In another bit of irony, many years later I realize I was on a date with the guy, who'd been the bartender I'd accidentally mooned that night.

Eventually, I was returned to Earth, and the hunk walking me to my car said that scene had provided him with quite a reference. In the following year we had much fun on and off the dance floor. He wasn't emotionally unavailable, but he was commitment phobic, which wasn't that big a deal to me since I liked my space and was focused on school. When a job offer took him an hour and a half south of town, we only saw each other once a month or so and were no longer exclusive. Still, he'd sometimes have enough to drink to become even more outgoing and in front of his best guy friend, who would often tag along with us, he would exclaim, "Victoria, you're such a catch. I can't figure out why you're not married already! whereupon, I would usually nearly choke on my drink.

As I've indicated, the last thing on my mind was marriage back then, however, due to another wild set of circumstances I might or might not go into another time, the following summer I married someone else. Since there had been no declarations of love, only admiration, it never occurred to me that I was hurting this guy. Wow, was I stupid. What I didn't realize in letting him go was that I'd set myself up for a nearly endless stream of men, lasting between one date and 10 years, who relished attempting to boss me around or going for the jugular in the form of insults, interspersed by a few, who would alternately jump my bones and play emotionally unavailable. Yes, I was a complete idiot about the situation, but then had I not been, I wouldn't have Skyler. Still, every time I dance with a guy, who gets ridiculously focused on what I know or do not know salsa or tango wise, I remember what it was like to dance with a partner, who knew dancing is supposed to be, above all else, fun.

We used to joke that if he became a professor of history as he'd wanted, and I one of Egyptology as I once wanted, we might one day run into each other in the halls of some university. "What do you think we'd do?" he asked. "End up in the broom closet," I'd answered. No more universities (or broom closets) for me. I truly wish him well, wherever he is and whoever he's with now. I can't say he was the one great love of my life. I could never even decide for sure whether I was in love with him back then, but I do know he became the measure against which most other men have failed, save the little one, who likes to be spun around in the dining room.

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