Dancing On My Own

I am riding on the back of a deeply fried chicken, whose wings were clipped by dreams that never came true, toward a dark and loud discotheque where my two best glamour cats, Consuelo and Kiernan Shipka, are waiting for me. It’s going to be a night like every other night—Consuelo will tell me about her family hating her and Kiernan will eat hummus seductively while looking in a mirror. Meanwhile, Jake Gyllenhaal will be out on the dance floor standing perfectly stationary as women dance around him with tight vinyl dresses and enormous breasts; they will be offerings for a sex God stultified by the endless carousel of simplicity that parades itself in front of him. Jake Gyllenhaal has seen it all before, true, but eventually he will succumb to the temporal needs of the young man and select one of the Robert Palmer girls to slake his apathetic lust. Who will Jake pick? Which lucky lady will he take home tonight? I know it won’t be me, though it is what I long for more than anything in the world.

The chicken lands gently in front of the club. I climb down its extra crispy back and into the pulsating volume, heading straight for the bar. I order a Long Island iced tea that originally came from Kansas City but eventually settled in Massapequa after taking a job selling fire insurance to young homeowners. My drink tastes of longing and regret. I see Consuelo down at the end of the bar. I tell my drink that I will rent my apartment and don’t need fire insurance, and head over to meet my sad little friend.

I sit with Consuelo and she tells me of dreams she has of running free through magical lands with an ethereal goddess. She explains to me that she has been brought there by a snowy white egret named Johanna. She and the goddess go on long safaris and ride in giant pastel teacups as overgrown mice watch on. In her dreams she feels connected to the fantasy of happiness, and far away from the sadness of her reality. I have heard about these dreams before, and though I long to go to this world of fantastical and idyllic sorcery one day, I tune out Consuelo and focus on the night around me.

I look casually across the dance floor and I see him. Jake is standing perfectly still in the exact center of the floor, gazing with mild boredom as women who smell of desperation and J’adore Dior slowly and sadly gyrate around him. They each show him their assets and he turns away from each of them, one at a time, unimpressed with the night’s offerings. The muscles on his forearms tighten and he clutches his folded arms closer to his torso. I see him turn his head slowly toward the bar—toward the area where I am sitting with Consuelo.

His gaze lingers on me (but only briefly) as a new crop of buxom ladies of the night approach, willing to offer up their flesh in exchange for his affections. They approach like languid zombies, or like strange planets pulled into the rotation of this massive and effulgent star. They orbit him, each of them with 2 moons jutting out from their chests. Again, Jake seems unimpressed.

The music, an earsplitting decibel of indecipherable bass, thumps rhythmically and ritualistically as Jake continues to assess the room.

But swiftly the music switches to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” The music calls to me and a force much more powerful than reality pulls me towards the dance floor. I begin to mouth of the lyrics, lip-synching while performing a dangerous breast shimmy, and locking eyes with Jake Gyllenhaal.

I slowly approach him, each step forward is a challenge of movement and lust. He doesn’t turn away. He has never been challenged on his home turf. He has never felt the heat of my sexual thunder.

As Robyn’s voice rings out, “I’m just gonna dance all night,” my shimmy becomes more intense, my challenge undeniable. You will take me home, Jake Gyllenhaal. You will show me your Brokeback Mountain of Love. The night will belong to us and we will take our rightful place in Xanadu—two Kings with righteous power, merciful and kind, but ready to except the gauntlet of a world that does not accept our love.

Jake Gyllenhaal holds my gaze. I can tell that he is intrigued by me and by my unparalleled interest in him.

“I’m givin’ it my all, but I’m not the guy you’re takin’ home. OOOOOOOhhhhhh. I keep dancing on my own!” cries Robyn. I have drawn to within a step of Jake Gyllenhaal. The women, who now realize that their pitiable attempts at seduction have fallen flat, now scoff at my moxie. They don’t understand the force of my desire or the undeniable warrant that  Robyn’s song gives me. I blast out a full-force shimmy and this intimidates the atrophied women. They slowly retreat, fading into the darkness of the club—the part where the wallflowers and morbidly pessimistic plot the dooms of those more successful than themselves. I know the atramentous perimeter of the dance floor well. It is where I have spent far too much of life, watching and waiting, hoping to come into the light. Now I am here and I will not waste this moment.

Suddenly, and rather too loudly, I am made awake. Fibro is on my chest, his little black eyes peering at me, his nose pressed right up to mine.

“Yo, Jeff, you awake?”

“Yes, asshole. You’re sitting on my chest. Get off me. Why did you wake me up?”

I roll over and Fibro topples off of me and over the side of the bed. He lands with a little thud. He stands up on his hind legs and peers over the top the bed.

“We got any BagelBites? I want pizza.”

“Do you see any in the freezer?”


“Then, no, we don’t have any. Where the hell else would they be?”

“Oh, I… huh. Yeah that makes sense.”

“Are you stoned?” I ask this rather pointedly, since the raccoon had been stoned and eating pizza since I first let him stay with me.

“Yeah,” he says, looking away sheepishly.

“Jesus, stop being such a stoner. No, we don’t have any BagelBites. I don’t eat foods that are registered trademarks.”

He jerks his head back toward me. “Registered trademark? Registered trademark. Just like the rhino.”

I have no idea what he means by this, but I don’t care. I was so close to being with Jake Gyllenhaal, even if only in my dream. That feeling, of being close to the things you most desire only to have them yanked away, is an assassin of dreams though. When you want something, most desperately want something, and don’t get it… there is a lingering effect. It is the bitter aftertaste of a life that feels unfulfilled. Perhaps a crush on a Hollywood celebrity is not the thing that triggers this acerbity, but the long list of life’s little disappointments may be enough to add up to dreamless sleep, or worse—a dreamless life.

I roll over in my bed, away from Fibro, even as he is furiously muttering something about polar bears, pirates, rhinos and cheese. I don’t know what he was smoking that night, nor do I care. I want only to return to that club, to fly on the wings of a deeply fried chicken, to drink a Long Island iced tea from Kansas City, to shimmy and shake, to dance with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Instead I fall into a dreamless sleep in which I am dancing on my own.


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