Snake Charmer

A summer party is where I, wrapped in standard issue Clubbing Uniform (breast-ratcheting halter, fat-arresting jeans), pose for the inevitable face-squishing female lineup, the "aren't we fun? aren't we hot?!" photographs meant to capture time itself, a singular moment never to be repeated. At least not until next weekend.

A party is also an event I attend while wearing a personalized version of the prescribed uniform only to find that each one of my friends has made a very similar personal choice. The revelation always comes when I see the Windows 7 version of my XP halter, and a copy in each color currently offered by The Limited. Some kind fashionista wearing the amped version will always try to make me feel better about the State of My Chic. I pay no mind to the word emphasis or verb tense.

"Oh, I remember that top in yellow. It looked so cute in that color."

Parties are where I drink just enough to blur the leading edges of an upcoming Monday, and where I dance the precise number of moves to preclude a breakout of frizzy hair. I'm a fairly decent hip jiggler. My riders are always slung low and at the ready, but at last Saturday's festivities I found myself hitching up the waistband. (better to make a run from the dance floor). I was on the lamb to avert a snake-charming professional.

I'll be the first to admit that I really do enjoy making the figure eight movements of a lithe bellydancer, but it's more often the gentle and flowing hand twirls that capture my imagination. I think there's a lot to be said for the smaller, unrehearsed gestures. Last Saturday's hostess was not of the same opinion. She'd invited a professional to treat us to whole body lessons.

As soon as I heard the finger cymbals, I hid behind my sister. Unfortunately, I was spotted. It's not my fault the girl is so petite.

A call to the dance floor is one I eagerly answer, but this time the sound of my name was like hearing drive-by Eminem over your Jack Johnson cd, a disruption you try your best to filter. I made a real effort to appear otherwise engaged and suddenly began a one-sided conversation about the proper mojito muddling technique, but the testing of my previous drink trials had made it impossible for me to appear anything less than loose and ready to party. I finally looked up at the chanting group lined on the dance floor and made a dismissive wave.

"",  I mouthed in silent capitals and with extremely round vowels, then turned back to the topic of lime-to-mint ratios. But the rappers were persistent.

By the third request I noticed the group's movement toward me (stage-left!) and made a sudden break for it. I moved toward the kitchen, but was followed by the Poobah. The Grand Mistress. The Empress. The Bellydance Instructor Herself.

Herself found me behind the club soda. She told me she'd heard that I love the snaking movements and was very good at it. She been told (rat faces) that I would love the lessons. I could see the pinched little snarking going on behind her. The act of snarking took a lot of gall coming from girls with scarves around heads and bells around hips.

I don't do well when cornered, and so I lied. I couldn't help it. It just flew right out of my mouth like a trained messenger bird.

"I'm sorry, I can't."  

I punctuated my apology with a grave look, a semicolon for the benefit of onlookers.

" ; "

"Not since I had that horrible bellydancing accident."

To my (veiled, of course) delight, the confession was met with real horror. I heard a couple of screeches from people with active imaginations (stilettos, rug, snag) or maybe (snake arm, bracelet, bra strap). I can't say. People began to seek verification of the rapidly spreading rumor.

With a sharp intake of breath each conspiratorial whisper came. 
"I heard you had a horrible bellydancing accident."  Apparently the idea of such an abomination bears verbatim repeating. I did not falter, just hung my head in an expression of disbelief that was mistaken for shame. What did I care? The trick was working. I was working the trick.

"Yes." I lied in a tone so low that it seemed to carry a resounding volume. And then, feeling the weight of my bald-faced lie, I grew bold and indignant. "Well it certainly wasn't on purpose!"
I'd turn away, snaking hip first.

"Accident" has, as of 11pm Saturday, become my default reason to explain away or avoid anything embarrassing. I've since decided that what really happened to the roof of my car this past February, the day I pulled the roof up to find tears in the seam, was actually a converting accident. The fact I recently had to rip up the carpet in my closet was not due to flooding, it was caused by an air-conditioning snafu, and while I'm at it, I'll tell you that if this post contains any errors in grammar or spelling, it is due to an awful writing mishap.


  1. I just about spit half-chewed rice and beans at the screen when I read: "Not since I had that horrible bellydancing accident."

    Love your writing. Love reading your writing. Makes me happy!!

  2. Seconding the spit-take moment, though my mouthful was tea.

    Wonderful story, wonderfully told. :)