Diary of a Dancer
31 July 76 Shalimar
R came in but I managed to get rid of him. Sandy
brought in a huge bag of string beans, squash and tomatoes
from her garden – I told Ryder to take them home and cook them.
My job is turning into a source of tremendous conflict – he is the
snake in his own paradise. Plus tips really fall off when he is
here. I am already looking at a very tough month financially –
trying to take so much time off. He said he’ll be back at the end
of the night to pick me up – he’s hurt when I’m “in need” and
don’t call him. So that saves cab fare anyhow.
We took a walk between sets and talked about his
parents – second generation immigrants, lifelong Army. He doesn’t
tell them anything (they obviously know his marriage broke up
and now he’s with me – but they don’t know about his deafness,
for example or about his classes at Gallaudet.) He said to me,
can you believe I’ve only seen these people twice in the past
four years? And we live in the same state. Wait till he meets
my parents – shudder. I’ll put it off as long as I possibly can.
Dancing tonight with Alicia. Poor Alicia. She’s a
“dripper”(constantly leaking pee) but blames it on hypoglycemia.
She hates dancing when there are so few people in here.
It’s kind of interesting. She sort of has a whorish appearance and
doesn’t realize she’s trapped in a vicious cycle – audience thinks
she’s a loose woman, she thinks they’re perverts.
I’m trying not to fall into the super-loving, super-giving
trap but Ryder is the first guy I’ve ever met who would obviously
be a wonderful father. Rare among men under thirty? Or something.
Talked to A on the phone – she was bored to tears at home
so I suggested she come in. We shared a burger basket and she
saw me dance for the first time. She wasn’t grossed out at all by
the semi-nudity – which is good – told me I’m a great dancer and
she really envies me my pelvic wiggle.
Also told me I have a terrific body – which really cheered
me up because I still feel too hefty around Ryder. (At his parents’ house
we went over his old scrapbooks – he was the star quarterback in
high school football. They described him as 5’4”! That’s a lot
shorter than he admits to these days. His boots have at least two
inch heels.) A left after one set because all the guys of course
came on to her. Obvious losers, alas, including the one who insists
he’s a hitman for the CIA and another who claims to be giving
away government jobs.
Unfortunately I’m dependent on the tips of these characters.
Ryder has been telling them all that I’m a writer (instead of a call girl,
presumably) which gives me a lot of explaining to do.
I wish I had money to buy things the house needs –
flashlights and fuses and drainers and shelving and all that stuff –
but I’m saving every bit for our trip to the Finger Lakes. Aug 5 will
mark one month in the house and six months since I quit the
architects. Seems like much longer than that. Where will I be
six months from now?
Hope my gothic novel sells – I need an immediate
hundred grand. I really can’t write with R sucking up all my free time.
I’ve been struggling with another poem about him – even that isn’t
coming. Hopefully we’ll settle down into being able to work side
by side quietly – maybe after our vacation.
6:00 PM, Chevy Chase Tyler St, 2 Aug 76
Across the street Shoulders, dressed in a skimpy football
undershirt, is mowing his lawn. He is a sight to behold.
Sitting over my repaired typewriter with a cup of hot tea
and a case of writer’s block. I could write a poem about Shoulders –
already R is interfering with my life. Beautiful day – a little chilly –
a little Maine edge to it.
Finished Stead’s Dark Places – which I adored – absolutely
one of a kind. Another bothersome thing about R – he really doesn’t
read. He’s been dragging around a sleazy paperback “heist comedy”
he pretends to read from time to time. At this rate it will take him six
months. I am struggling with All Authors are Equal but I may give
up on it and read Famous Washington Ghosts which R picked up
for me to add to my considerable collection of ghost stories (I must
have 50 vols.)
On the phone with Maeve my old Baltimore buddy –
she is behind in her rent but looking for a new job. In the meantime
borrowing from boyfriends. I take a perverse pleasure that anyone
is managing worse than me.
Shalimar – 10:20 PM
Called in tonight to replace another girl – great – that
means I work 5 times this week. Just that small amount makes a
big difference. A is in the chips right now and I could owe her
but don’t want to.
When I came in they told me R had been in 30 mins
before. That was a little unsettling – I didn’t realize he would come in
if I weren’t here. Of course it is really close to his job – but equally
of course the food is more expensive here than just about
anywhere else he could choose. I look at who was dancing
to see whether he would think she was in any way better than me –
luckily it was the pisser Alicia instead of potentially scary
competition like, say, Gloria. He didn’t know I was coming in,
because Carmen didn’t tell him. Reading the Ghosts of
Washington. Wonderful poem potential.
Shalimar Thurs 5 Aug 76
R dearer every day, in spite of the fact that he’s
been checking up on me. Called and called last night – wondered
where I was – I wasn’t too sure how to tell him A and I were
over at Shoulders’ drinking, so I just said we were visiting
the neighbors. Standing in their yard, which wasn’t true. He is
jealous of Shoulders and I don’t blame him – such lush male
beauty makes women helpless. A is a complete mess over him.
He frequently wanders around the house in nothing but his
boxers – we call them as his “huppa”.
R. finally got an apt and can stop “crashing” with
friends – one bedroom at the top of a Rockville skyscraper.
Sounds crazy expensive to me. Wrote a good poem –
capitol ghosts – today from the book R gave me.
Trying to think where to send it. Tomorrow’s my day off –
R coming over at 2.
slants his disappointed child’s face
downwards; the better to study bloodstains left
by assassins more accomplished than himself
who required benefit of anonymous surgeons
specially qualified for skewering
the muscles of the mighty.
The guard who saw him
claimed also to hear demon cats
and could not be relied upon.
these portents once were matters of
congressional dispute; now
no matter; caught within the marbled lurch
of history, victims
of the uninspired mad;
those who pursue the corpse from whom
the ghost escaped. He haunts our history
like the villainous barber who sings as he slits
both throats and wombs, a pure tune
some say, picked clean of tragedy
which only the dying hear.
Shalimar 7 Aug 76
Sitting here in a stupor of exhaustion. We had an
Al Green fan in here tonight – kept playing same song over
and over. Presumably working through some kind of a
relationship crisis. They don’t realize coming here and blowing
their money kills any relationship – and I am not going to tell
them. Anyway I hate Al Green. Missed my bus this AM so
took the Fessenden bus and walked across. A better way to go –
I like the walk – to hell with this transfer business.
I have to admit R doesn’t seem to understand
poetry. He’s very suspicious of all ease, elegance, lightness.
Too much Nature! “Work” should make you grit your teeth,
groan and bulge your forehead veins. The easier it comes,
the less valuable it MUST be. (He would hate Picasso’s very
best stuff!) I’ve tried getting him to understand by comparing
art to athletics – it only looks easy – it’s the training beforehand
that’s so hard. The trick is to render training invisible. But he
seems to think modern poetry is a plot to make him look stupid.
Really worried about money lately – everything at
Unibank is bouncing. It doesn’t take much to set off a chain
reaction. Guess I’ll have to borrow from A after all.
How true it is that before you can love you must
love yourself. My love for myself is wavering. Just finished
Sean Stiles’ Occam’s Razor. I hate to see a good idea wasted.
Mostly I am depressed by the poor quality of the stories in
the Times Detective Story competition anthology. This is
something I should aspire to? I’m on a wonderful streak
of poetry – keep piling them up – got ophelia and
haunted house this eve.
OPHELIA WAS A MAN
The best revenge is growing up.
Behold a street of suicides –
Fringed lampshades &
Mullioned windows where
The dentist’s son grew dope
From seed (they had eight bathrooms and
The dentist couldn’t be everywhere)
His wife was nowhere; we saw her leave
With the cat in a suitcase clawing to get out.
“Crazier than thou” averred my aunt.
That boy blew the fruits of orthodontal science until
The day he blew his mind –
We traced the hissing-pissing-noise
To the garage of the stockbroker’s son; he’s
The one who stayed home from Yale to rewrite Hamlet
(Made it better – put in people you could recognize)
Type-cast himself – since he saw ghosts.
Two fine boys married to each other
Rosy-cheeked and sightless
In their parents’ wedding clothes.
Tomorrow R is taking me on a tour of the television
station and out to lunch. This is a biggie – see where he works.
So I had to buy a gorgeous black linen jumpsuit (size 5!) Should
be worn with high red heels – but needless to say, can’t around
R. So instead, flat sandals. Fortunately everything is on sale.
A and I have decided to ask Maeve to move in with us – we can’t
seem to manage alone and we do have three bedrooms, but
she’ll have to hide from the landlord. I hate to do it. Letter from
D today – he’s in love with the 18 yr old virgin daughter of his minister.
Didn’t do a thing to me. God bless ‘em.
Rick the gambler in tonight. He’s a friend of R’s – cheered
me up by telling me I’ve done so much for R who was really “hurting”
over his divorce.
Ryder – I love you – but I don’t really know who you are.
Hope you are who you pretend to be.