Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Ourselves Don't Dance

The way the lights progress across the room onto the old man's shiny shirt makes him look as though he is continually about to stand. I'm with people who never drink, and one of them tells me, "You're the only foreigner in the whole place," a sentence I've heard a lot lately. They don't know the Chinese word for "vodka," and even when we figure it out, using "clear" and "transparent," what comes are not three fully iced glasses but is in fact a whole bottle. "He says, '{Is this what you wanted?}'" No. "He says, '{This is the only way it comes.}'" Well, this is what we'll have then. Even here—where people dance not so much with each other as much as near each other (it's certainly not the on-each-other-ness of clubs that you might be used to [except for one couple who are perhaps a few inches away from each other, the man behind the woman, they dancing like spoons, one could say, at which my friends point]), pole dancers keep most of their clothes on (although they're pretty naked compared to the rest of the place [my friends keep pointing and saying, "Wow," and, "You should really look," but I don't want to]), and old men in tacky clothes dance in a way that reminds me of the loops you see in cartoons when a whole bunch of people are in frame together—even here I'm thinking about work. I have to admit. The old man—I swear this time he's going to get up. He's watching somebody dance. I'm watching him watch. I scan the room for anybody watching me watch. The music's too loud for talking, of course, and for obvious reasons, the old trick of lip reading doesn't work. Neither does encouraging people to drink more slowly, probably because I myself am pulling directly from the bottle's lip, the vodka weak. "He asked me, '{Is he European?}' and I told him, '{No, he's American.}'" In front of the trough of a urinal, some men are pissing; others are talking in very close groups around the pissers, one man with his arm around his buddy as the latter unzips and goes. In the actual urinal, there are pictures of women you can't help but piss on. My friends lie several times before they admit they want to go.

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