Diary of a Dancer
Mon midnight 6 Feb 78 Fri night J was in the bar getting slowly snockered. Very
proud to take me home. We had our most passionate sex session yet
– 5 hours! Of course he couldn’t come. We finally quit because I was
exhausted. He told me the sexiest thing I do is play with my breasts
when we make love! I only do it because he doesn’t! The big lug.
He asked me what I would do if I accidentally got pregnant.
(He knows about IUD.) I said have the baby. Of course I didn’t
tell him that I might not inform him of the fact – depends on him
and the state of our relationship.
Which raises the important question: do I want
an alcoholic baby? Wouldn’t you be watching it throughout childhood
to see if it favored rum candy? He said he hoped we’d get married
because a child needs a father. I think this might be the way an
Alabamian proposes. Surprising how totally un-good it felt. I almost
got as depressed as he is. Jervaze, who has the beauty of an angel-god,
is no better than a drifter. Even I am shocked by my own taste. His life
is guaranteed to go from bad to worse because of his fatal Hamlet-like
inability to take charge. Clearly he needs to be the full time project of
some managing woman. This is bringing out all my masculine characteristics,
some of which, frankly, I was hoping never to see again. I am also
bothered by the fact that he can’t have serious conversations. I would
say he absolutely does not know me at all, and appears satisfied with that.
I probably also don’t know him, although I am beginning to face the fact
that there may be nothing to know.
The drama of my own existence is important to me.
There’s a full cast of characters and A LOT OF PLOT SURPRISES
and he hasn’t even opened the book. It’s frustrating because it makes
everything less meaningful. I feel I’m in a bind, though, because he’s
definitely the best of the bunch in all the bars I’ve danced. Most
attendees are married men looking for fun and excitement. They are
the dancers’ favorite because they’re established, generous and
sometimes they actually leave their wives. This happened with R
although he always insisted (and I believed) it wasn’t me, it was him.
(And her, presumably). The best you can do is “catch them on the cusp” of divorce. The “singles” men come in three kinds – total losers who can’t
manage a relationship and that’s what they’re doing in a bar like this, guys
who need you to quit the minute you start dating them because “no girlfriend
of mine” blah blah blah. (More R). The third is guys who are fine with you
dancing – in fact they want to be your manager. Several dancers have fallen
for these guys and often they marry them. He buys their costumes, drives
them to and fro, bargains with the club owner and even looks after the kids.
The good ones don’t just drain her money, date the competition or beat her up.
(Those are rare. But exist. I’ve met them.) Only now she can’t ever quit!
Take Lida for example. Lida’s in her 40’s and can’t be seen in
the light of day. Although she has a perfect body, she is real scary close up –
gets the worst clubs and shifts – here she is strictly a fill-in. One dancer and
her boyfriend live in a van, going from club to club. He sits in the bar for every
set and that has to be OK with the management.
This would seem to mean my parents are right that I can’t meet
nice men because of my job, and although I don’t want to go all apocalyptic, it
is hard to see how this can get better. I could meet someone through my writing
if I were a different kind of person but I just can’t seem to change. (I’m getting happier and happier Being Me.) Probably my best bet is to go back to college –
I’ve been wanting to – take a class here and there (a lot of dancers do this) and
date guys without letting them know what I do for work until I know them really well. Money is the problem there. More capital expense. I make good money and I should be able to afford it, however it doesn’t combine well with my plans to
take time off and travel. I would have to work constantly which so far I
have been too spoiled to do. A light schedule keeps dancing fresh for me
– it’s also good for my writing. So I should probably compromise and
take one class – something nice and cheap like adult ed at the community
college. I’ll think about it.
Sat night J was all withdrawn again. I don’t think he wants
me to coax out of him what the problem is; I think when he is in that mood
he really just wants me to go away. So I do. A says I’m being an idiot –
that he is clearly in love with me – in her definition, I’ve “arrived”. I could
get him to move in with me, structure his time and tell him what to do.
Maybe that’s what he wants but it certainly isn’t what I want. He seems
so depressed about his family — and it is too late to lie to them about what I do because his brother (whom I’ve still never met) “already knows”. Could I
change my name and get away with being someone else entirely? Tell me
again why should I go to those lengths?
He would just appall my parents. This would confirm every
bad thing about me they’ve ever said (and they’ve said a lot). It’s really one
of those tragic Victorian love stories (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) except that
we’re not from different classes – so maybe its more SCI fi because we’re from different PLANETS. I’m beginning to think he’s actually “cast off” by his family
that’s his deep dark secret. His alcoholic behavior “ruined” him in his
hometown somehow. (He did graduate high school. He says.) He’s the
horrible albatross from the Coleridge poem (or he’s trying to shift it off onto
me.) Under the apparently inexorable rules of sexual attraction, once again
he’s a weird mirror image of me. But instead of being a drunk (which my
parents would prefer) I’m a poet. Probably in the South it all comes to the
same thing. In the North it’s almost the same. Here we’ve got actual mental
illness thrown into the mix.)
Can’t say my advice which is he ought to write them off . He
totally buys into their rejection and who knows, maybe it will save him in the
end. “Dump your family” was my advice to my husband, so possibly it’s
me who has the problem.
Mom and Dad asked if J was an intellectual and I said,
“Well, he’s reading my book.” I didn’t tell them he’s been reading it for the
past two months with no end in sight. I don’t dare even comment on it
anymore. It snowed about 20 hours – that’s another thing I like about J
– he lives right next to the club. It’s hard on my dogs – but so would my
death on the roads be.
R. Called today – 3rd time in a month. He acted very loving
and considerate – I don’t believe it for a minute. Now he’s worried about
my health – wants to bring me homemade chicken soup, etc. I don’t rise
to these flies any more and it feels so good. Any desire I may have had to
see the flesh ripped from his bones with red-hot razorblades has ebbed.
I take that as progress. I look forward to seeing him again because I think
it would be great to feel nothing.
11:30 AM Tues. 7 Feb 1978
Mom and Dad called – there’s another apt available on
the island. What once seemed so attractive is now an obvious ploy to
make me over in their image. This is the same island Mom referred to
when she said, “Eyeshadow is not appropriate here.” (She gets to
decide how people should dress for parties.) When I mentioned this to
Genevieve, she said, “Well it’s not.” Way to back me up sister. So the
question really is, would I be ready to sacrifice eye shadow for a sinkhole
Could I end up wearing shawls and baking bread
without any ability to save myself? If I can ever afford a “get-away”
(and my royalties say no) I think it should be on the Chesapeake. And if
I want to afford that I should try to “get the market” to work for me, i.e.
be F. Scott Fitzgerald instead of Sylvia Plath. Both died young but she
But hey, I want to be myself and I can live on so little.
I ought to be able to pull this off. On the other hand, if Dad’s fish
recover from their anal calcification and his latest aquafarm project
takes off, maybe we’ll make millions. Still, he won’t let me have the stock certificates so possibly it’s all blather.
Worked listlessly on Demon. Cold, strange little book,
and NOT what my new editor wants me to write, but I find the protagonist
interesting. Maybe someone else will. It’s working out to top off at 30,000
words or the worst length ever. Unfortunately I like it this way. Introduce
subplot? Submit it with other short stories? Can’t decide. Erin is exactly
the same length. Between the two of them aren’t they a book? Unfortunately,
they are too similar which I guess ruins it for the reader who has to be taken
R called hearing I had sniffles (from his spy?) but didn’t come
by. Said he didn’t get sick at all. Favored by God, I guess. He always acts
like I am just about to dump him totally. Maybe I already have. We are as
formal as people who have never even met.
Reading Waugh’s diaries and thinking a lot about my own life.
I try thinking about my writing as if it were acting: “do what the part demands,
try what other actors have done.” But it doesn’t work. It is the pure eccentricity
of uniqueness that the universe demands and nothing less. You’re either part
of the pursuit of ultimate meaning or you’re “against” it. What a pity, too, the
universe is not “the world”.
The moon & my soul have
Too much in common;
Screaming in panic:
“Come back, come back
We never notice
When you’re here yet
Who can bear this darkness
Now that you have gone?”