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Archive for February, 2012

The Detour

The following is a satire. A creative writing class assignment I was given in 1998. It was not meant to make fun of any one particular person or group of people. Though based in partially true life experience of my own, names have been changed and personalities and situations are grossly exaggerated in order to create the satirical humor intended.

The Detour

By Janet Lynn Carlo

Originally Written, November 4, 1998

I remember trying to maneuver my car through the road construction leading on to the highway with one hand. The other was applying lipstick and checking my hair in the mirror. At the same time I kept glancing at the directions scribbled on the paper lying on the passenger seat. I kept thinking, “I hope I find this place. I still don’t know my way around this God forsaken Island. Maybe if I were able to get North, South, East and west straight I would do better.

Its funny how life is the most amazing Journey There are detours we must sometimes take on our course to fulfillment in life. My pilgrimage has been challenging. It has sometimes been pleasant and other times turbulent. Yet I would like to reflect on a rather humorous detour in my recent travels.

I am particularly thinking back a little more than a year ago.  In my car now, I can remember thinking “Oh! There’s the exit. Now what street is this place on?” I could not believe I was going to one of those Lonely Hearts Club Dances. “Maybe it should be called, Someone’s Tossed Aside Garbage, (STAG) Anonymous,” I thought.  In that case I would have joined a year prior. But I was doing better now. I didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted to have some fun and make some friends.

As I pulled up to the Bar Is sat there staring. This is a dance, “I thought, “Am I actually going to dance? When was the last time I danced? At Aunt Gloria’s wedding with the kids?” I got out of the car and smoothed my outfit which was from K-MART’s Jacklyn Smith line. It was the best I could do at the time on my budget. “When was the last time I got dressed up?”  I pondered. As I approached the door my stomach felt like birds flying south for the winter. When I entered, two crusty ladies smiled behind make-up that I thought would crack their faces. “Hi! Welcome!  Are you a newcomer?  Do you have your ID card?”  They eagerly spoke. “Yes” I said reluctantly as I produced my papers and my five dollars. “Only members are allowed at these functions,” I thought. “At least it’s a safe environment.”  I gazed around the large room and dance floor adjoining the bar off to the left. It appeared to be the biggest collection of misfits I had ever encountered. I thought “oh well, here goes”. I’m going to give this a shot and hope to make some friends.”

The hours to follow were entertaining. Eventually I met a few people and merely rubbed elbows with a few others. First there was Cowboy Jim. He was 7 feet tall and missing his front teeth. He was quite a sight donning hat 10 gallon hat and boots to match. His story was that his wife had left him for his mother. He asked me to dance and I reluctantly accepted thinking, “ Oh God, is this the best I will be able to do?” Or worse yet, “does he really think I’m too fat and is just dancing with me to be polite?” Then, there was paralyzed Pete. He stood in one spot all night, arms glued across his chest as if to protect himself form intruders. I watched him grow roots under his feet and into the wooden floor, his eyes wide in terror as women asked him to dance and he chanted repeatedly, “I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”

As the evening wore on I attempted conversation, dared to dance a little and sipped my one glass of white Zinfandel, all the while thinking to myself, “Could I really make friends among this group?” As I looked around I saw an unusual bunch, all basically looking for the same thing. A sense of belonging and possibly someone to relieve the loneliness.  Above all, a place to go where others could relate to them and the baggage they carried. Without a doubt, baggage was a staple of everyone’s wardrobe.

Consequently, I was to spend a lot of time with this group of people. Aside from the dances were the rap sessions where everyone put his or her baggage on display for everyone else to review and compare. I sat through a few of these, keeping silent with no desire to participate. I listened to Bitter Betty  betrayed an battered, as she told her sordid tale of her grotesque Ex who beat her heart to a pulp and ate it for lunch. I also had a sad story but had no desire to be a prisoner of my past. I was finished drowning in a sea of pity like most others at these Ex-Bashing sessions.

In addition, there was the Lonely Hearts Club Extension Gang, the characters I began to hang around with after and aside from the organized activities of the club. These are a group of people I will call the traveling club hoppers. These guys were serious partner seekers who realized that finding their soul mate was not happening through the Lonely Hearts Club. They preferred to dip their toes in the sea of sensual sensations at the local dens of iniquity, Alias THE CLUBS. They sought out and kept each other well informed of all the spots that offered a 40 and older night, since all of us were over 40. We met at these  places and boosted our egos among the endless bodies of  Teasing  Terrys and Tactless Toms. Yet we all knew we were not going to meet our soul mates here either. I enjoyed watching some characters from our crowd at these places.. For instance there was Vicious Vicki who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, a mouth like a sewer.” When listening to her talk one day I thought I saw rats running off her tongue holding their ears. She would stand alongside the dance floor gyrating to the music , skintight dress, cleavage pushed up to her neck below the angriest face I ever saw. It said “I dare any man to ask me to dance , I’ll kick his ass”. She wondered why no one ever approached her. Then there was Plastic Pete her sidekick. He never left the dance floor, but never looked anyone in the eye either. As someone I know put it, he was in love with himself.  He strutted around like a peacock spreading his feathers, his fake smiling face pulled up too high from numerous lifts. He looked like a mannequin. Another regular couple near and dear to my heart, were Deranged Diane and Stammering Sam. Diane never looked you in the eye either. Her eyes rolled around the room and back into her head an average of three times for every five minute conversation with her. Stammering Sam was a fun loving guy with a good sense of humor, if  you had an hour to listen to him tell a joke. They were a couple, sort of, depending on which one you asked on which day.

They were a peculiar group, to say the least. If the truth be known, I am probably better off having known them. As strange a crowd as they were, knowing them gave me the courage to come out of my comfort zone. As I stood in these night spots every night of the week I would ask myself, what am I doing here, acting like a teenager at my age?  However these people gave me a sense of belonging.  As far removed as I felt from some of them, they were the only friends I had, and I will remember them fondly for that. And strangely enough, out of this group, emerged a few not mentioned people who are now a significant part of my life. They were the few with whom I was able to connect in a way that people do when they discover through casual friendships, that they share some kind of common bond in their personalities and a relationship is born.

My own experience in the single world the second time around was an educational one. I learned how to weed through  Lying Larrys and Big Talk Bobs. I graduated from dancing with men who made my tummy turn because I thought I had to out of politeness, to saying, no thanks. I learned how to walk through the crowd of Gawking Garys within an inch of touching strange flesh without my skin crawling. My life has balanced out now and the Lonely Hearts Club was a brief detour down a road that now lies behind me.  Nevertheless, I will always cherish these memories. I will surely recall them when I need a chuckle to lift my spirits.

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