“Which one came first, the pole or the stripper? “Ryan was looking at her over the top of his sunglasses biting his straw when he asked. They both knew how stuck up she had been and had learnt to make fun of their differences.
“Well! Come on, the art is centuries old but don’t you think its essence is washed out in this age, like everything else? Cultural practices? Taboos? Gender roles?”
She didn’t jump on him for a tickly fight when she saw that mocking look on his face, like she always did when it was his turn to roast her queer traits. Like how she normally aggressively defended why all strip clubs should be shut down since they destroyed marriages. To him he rationally thought that the government would have to do a lot more than that. Like monitor the internet, the avenue of all things unorthodox since teen hood.
“You’re right “he agreed. However you haven’t answered my question.
“The stripper came first.”
“There you go! “He tipped his sunglasses up, made little lines on his forehead then proceeded to add, “Egyptians have been belly dancing since the cradle of their civilization.
“And the pole was a men’s sport in ancient China predated back to the 12th century, they wore full body costumes and laced the pole with rubber for acrobatic moves, not the fluid movement.” she interjected,”pole dancing, the modern craft, picked up in the United States in the 1900’s when women of travelling the fairs incorporated it to increase their audience. When its popularity increased, the remnant of this Chinese sport was the center stage in enticing men in 1968, when the first strip tease was historically documented. After that, it was a free fall of the art, craft and sport to basic enticement for a quick dollar.”
He dipped his head forward “Meaning, feminine dance is a biologically wired stimulant in every man, the years have taken the soul out of it.Just like they have taken the soul out of authentic feminity.The original demeanor of a woman is soft yet strong, beautiful yet mysterious, I mean if Nefertiti crawled out of her secret grave today and saw all the leggings and minis, the aggressiveness at work areas that is sometimes carried back home, she would, she would crawl right back! Wrong planet!”
“Belly dancing dates back to thousands B.C, it was fully costumed, the beauty in the mystery. “She said that enthusiastically, adding,
“perhaps that will change, more women subscribe to pole dancing as a fitness routine today. It’s picking up worldwide. I mean soccer mums and college students alike”
She smiled wryly waiting for him to utter his predictable suggestion, “So will you subscribe?
This time she jumped on him for a tickly fight, arousing the attention of people nearby their little shed at the beach.
Their vacation in the Kostera islands had refurbished their shaky union.
Three days of exploring the feel of the sand along the ocean, the forgotten terrains of the forest of the cliff facing the water mass, a sunset of Margaritas, evenings of roasted turkey meat at the beach and a starry night at the balcony of their rented beach house.
He opened chapters of her life that she had added during their time apart, devoured her words as they fell off her lips. A man of such control, sophistication and authenticity as he was to her, undressed her a thousand times every day without even touching her. He understood that you begin how you want to finish. This was a new beginning for them, with new dimensions. He began it with patience, friendship, the sibling type, and fun. He sought to understand how she could now order her own food preference, not seek his dressing approval every day, but most importantly, how she didn’t spark late night fights anymore. The simplicity of mundane duties and decisions explains the bigger perspective and state of one’s life. It’s a direct reflection.
On the third day, she woke up with eye bags and a hangover from the gods, from her three hour sleep after a night of drunk confessionals. Deeper than the priest hears. About the ancestral roots of their misunderstandings that they had carried from their homes. Belief systems, like her codependent nature and his growing lack of accountability. Prior to their separation she was a little girl in a grown woman’s body. Seeking absent daddy’s guidance and approval in every male she encountered.
“I have broken the rhythm, I feel me.”She uttered when the wine started kicking in.
He could see that, her outlook had changed. From a short bob cut to wild sultry hair, maxi dresses to boyfriend jeans, a full makeup face to a light touch of pinked lips and bare skin.
“I was a cocktail of every person’s suggestions who had ever molded me.Laugh loudly, my ex Brian once advised me, said it adds confidence to my introverted personality. He couldn’t stand my shy laughs. I have no idea why that didn’t sound ridiculous back then. Wear maxi dresses, said Humphrey, it’s more feminine. When he said jump, I would asked how high. I regarded him as my firm moral guide. I needed the same life support from you, a lifelong therapist who analyzed me on my behalf. You cut the supply and made me a rogue mess. When you didn’t fuel my drama, I had to find my own life support.”
“I spent a month indoors, getting still, then deleting every bad book that was on queue for me to finish, music I barely enjoyed, throwing away clothes and shoes with the first instinct of dislike.
At the end of the month, it was clear that I had been taking up all the personalities of the people I had ever tried to build a life with. I had no passion of my own except writing. So I became a little proactive week by week in the next month. Sometimes it felt as though I was on the worst trail ever. I did away with all familiarity and simply began to notice the things around me I was attracted to”
He leveled up her wine and added a layer of blanket, the starry night at the balcony was still a fancy on the second night. It was already 12 o’clock.
“I took long walks in the evening, ordered the food I never had before, streamed YouTube videos about everything under the planet, I was basically doing things on first instinct basis. By the second week I had spotted a drawing class in town, tried my hand at a posing 6 ft. model and failed terribly!”
“Wait…” he interrupted, “a lady or a guy?”
To get on his nerves she did what they do best, annoy each other “A 6ft chocolate man with luscious dreadlocks and………”
“Alright! Do they have classes for guys?”
“Shut up stupid “they giggled
“Met a gorgeous lady in the same session who invited me to her art exhibition on the next weekday. It was time for some attire scouting. Did the same thing again. Obeying the first instinct no matter how outrageous it felt “Got myself some cut out jeans, a pair of comfortable sandal heels and a black T-shirt.
The exhibition was the most wonderful presentation I had ever been upto. I even signed up for notifications on future events which I later cancelled when I learnt about the dance class down the street, from one of the advertisements on the art lady’s website.
“Hahahaha!I can barely get you to lift a foot with music on, “he was now sitting up listening to her.
“Nop! Actually yes. The first time I walked into the dance studio I felt more like the poles than the dancer,”
“Poles??Who are you??”His hand was rolled into a fist and on his mouth, eyes wide open then he stood up and did a little dance laughing before sitting down, even more curious.
“Luckily the instructor accommodated the newbies comfortably. It was out of my league and it will probably take me another beat down before I gain the courage to walk into such a studio again. It was a refreshing experience, I felt a part of me that scared me off a little. It takes a lot to twist the hips, do a cat walk around a pole than jump all night at a rock music festival. It was as if I was dancing in front of a crowd but my life depended on it.The vulnerability! That’s why I chose to instead attend a regular dance class and see if maybe”, she dragged the word maybe “that will lead me back to that class with a more confident attitude. You know, feel things and things like that, new things……”
“She was drunk but sleepy at 3.00 a.m.”
“I can see how that experience has been good to you, Apart from documenting it in a novel………”
She was already asleep. He was imagining how her, Atwood, his writer wife looks like in a dance class.Moreso a pole dancing fitness class. Something he was going to probe the very next day down at the beach.