I agreed to the wine tasting. That was it—just a wine tasting.
When a friend asked me to go dancing at a local restaurant that turns into a complete pickup joint every Friday night, I turned her down in no uncertain terms.
“No way. I met a guy for drinks there once and it’s heinous. In fact, heinous is too kind a word. Wild horses couldn’t drag me there.”
“Come on,” she yelled. “Why are you being so difficult?”
Nonsense, I thought. I’m nothing if not delightful.
After wheedling and cajoling with no success, she came back with another offer. “How about a wine tasting?”
Sold. Count me in.
Three of us met, on a cold Friday night, at the wine tasting. It was filled mainly with middle-aged couples and women of a certain age (that we haven’t reached yet—but it’s out there in the distance). I could see the disappointment on one of my compadres’ faces. She couldn’t be bait because there were no fishermen.
I, on the other hand, hate being bait. Which is why I will have to meet my future soulmate anywhere other than an arena in which I’m being looked up and down with the end result a rating from one to 10.
We finished our wine (mediocre, at best) and our conversation (better than the wine), then headed out to our respective cars. That is when the night took a strange turn. As if on cue (I swear they rehearsed it), my fellow oenophiles each grabbed an arm and threw me in the backseat of their car.
“You’re going dancing.”
I protested as we drove. “I’m tired. I have to work tomorrow. And besides, I’m dressed for a winter wine tasting, not dancing. Look at me. I’m a perfect British author. I’m the modern-day Emily Brontë.” And I was—black turtleneck, ruffled gray skirt to my ankles, pointy black boots.
Twenty minutes later, Emily Brontë was busting a move on an overcrowded dance floor, smack in the middle of the heinousness. Because she is nothing if not practical. I mean, when you have at least an hour to kill in a middle-aged meat market—you can either try to avoid the awkward staring or you can dance with your friends.
Let’s just say I was the only black turtleneck on the dance floor, amid a bevy of one-shouldered, how-can-you-sit-down-in-that sequined dresses. I got to meet my friend’s new boss, who—in an awkward moment—realized she had spotted him. After assuring us he had dropped by for the “first time ever” because someone had told him this place had “good salads” (I’m still trying to figure out what that might mean, in guy talk), he then proceeded to slink away. We politely did not mention that his salad was four hours ago. We also politely looked away when we saw him making out with a woman he had just met, an hour later.
All this by way of saying: The place lived up to my memory of its ick factor.
I danced with my friends. I met a lovely dental hygienist with a broken foot who had accompanied her divorced brother so he wouldn’t have to fly solo. “I’m married 20 years,” she said. “The fact that I’m here shows you how much I love my brother.” As we bemoaned feeling like fish out of water, I looked around. Man, there was a lot of loneliness in this place. I realized I’d much rather granny it up fireside on a Friday night, reading a really good book, instead of being here with a pulsing beat and men in search of “a good salad.”
To top it all off, as I danced up a storm, a lone cocktail napkin brought me down. Suddenly, I was flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling in a sea of dancing bodies. Before I knew it, four pairs of strong hands lifted me back to my feet. I turned to find what looked like the Russian mafia smiling at me. I thanked them as well as the sequined woman who picked up the culprit—a lone cocktail napkin that had caught on my spiked heel.
When British authors go dancing . . . you just never know what might happen.
Unless you do.
My boogie nights will now be limited to weddings and my own family room.
Black turtleneck optional.