A string of English expletives leaves my mouth as I enter my apartment. This Leo moon yells both, “Fuck!” and “No!” with an anger few will ever understand.
I see my grandmother’s dark brown face—the only face who has seen and loved my raw, frightening truth—a face that sang gospel and blues with an alto like Anita Baker before such a female range was appreciated. Her beautiful face whispers, “Shug.” I wonder what she would say if she had witnessed what I had. Wiser and kinder, I wish I could ask.
I walked into the Montréal swing dancehall. Thoughts of my Québécoise love swirled in my mind. I wondered what it would be like if she were my dance partner: alas, she was married at 1,000 miles away. As I watched the intermediate dance class, I laughed. At first, it was barely perceptible, but the longer I watched, the more comical.
I walked the streets of Chicago’s Boy’s Town. I walked the streets of Chicago’s House of Blues. Five year olds had better swing skills than what I was witnessing, yes, mostly black, but of all colors really. It was official: Montréal Swing was a joke.
The warm up was easy. I easily out-shined beginner, intermediate, and was equal to advanced. Growing up in a black church, you learn to dance, or you learn to play an instrument: heaven help you if you can do neither.
I moved as lead from partner to partner. Some partners had rhythm, and some did not. Some simply did not know how to follow. Lead partners of any gender: if your significant partner cannot follow, your relationship is doomed. I danced with cutie after cutie who simply had no rhythm, and tried to fault me as lead. While fair, no, it was them. If they were my girlfriend, I would have dumped them on the spot.
Surprisingly, a brunette cutie with short hair, likely a lesbian, was the best follow of my entire evening. I would have run off to Vegas and married her immediately, if I were not here writing this. Her name is Claire, so I might marry her next week.
I have learned that I either need to go back to Chicago if I want to dance swing, or find an advanced partner who appreciates being led, at least here in Montréal. I was complimented on my French (compliments get you everywhere with me), and I realized that even the bilingual teaching did not make up for the lack of skill. I sorely missed the tall Québécoise I wished to be the love of my life, and hated in the same instant for not being with me.
Two women propositioned me to stay and dance the evening away, but I remembered how they were horrible follows, and immediately imaged the awful sex that would ensue if anything like their dancing. I decided to make a run for it before they fractured my more sensitive bits.
Now that it is 10:30pm, my irrational mind wants to return, but my rational mind remembers its previous penis fracture: not fun. When a film says, “Do not try this at home,” don’t!
Perhaps I just miss home. Perhaps I miss my maternal grandmother. Perhaps I just miss her making me American cheese grits, fried sausage, and her showing me pictures of her and my dandy grandfather at dance halls doing the swing: that was true love to me, 30 years plus of honest reality and devotion.
Here I was with badly rhythmic, Montréalers, who could not follow to save their life.
I missed home. I’d rather dance swing by myself. As I sip Jack Daniels Miel, I remember stories of my grandfather brewing moonshine in the bathtub, and one of his friends going blind from a bad batch.
I want a lover to swing with me, with the perfect rhythm of a good follow. There is a lead and a follow in dance. Gender aside, if you fight either role, you fall over onto one another. Simply, I want an equal to complement me: roles aside. She should not be threatened by societal definitions, but be true to herself, kitchen aid or no.
Any woman I become serious with, which is unlikely, I will take to a swing class. If our dance is magic, I will marry her without hesitation and give her everything I have to give in this lifetime.
Because this is so unlikely, I will just remember my grandmother’s sweet voice: strong, kind, empathetic, wistful.
She longed for a better world, and was willing to sacrifice her time and well being to see it such. The next woman to call me ‘shug’ and join me in harmonious swing dance, no questions of hesitations, I’ll know to be the one, ever-changing, that I am meant to meet time, after time, after time, after time…
In hatred or in love, we will uncover the best in one another.
So far, it is only true in my fevered fiction…
Well, time for an empty and emotionless orgy…