Somehow I got Saturday off. It was my 2-year anniversary with Abe and the last Hollywood Stones show I could make. They were playing an afternoon show at an Earth Day Festival in Thousand Oaks.
My apartment, cave, hole in the ground in Sylmar was almost empty. There were just a few things and the mattresses.
We were packing up some final things and I couldn’t find a corkscrew for the spare bottle of organic rose wine I left behind. Nevermind the time, it was only 11am.
Abe, “Maybe Dora has one upstairs.”
Me, “I think she is mostly moved out, but I will go and check.”
When I came back down, Abe said, “Any luck?”
I said, “I found something better” holding up an opened but barely touched bottle of Apricot champagne.
The carbonation was almost completely gone, but the taste was sweet on the lips.
We shared the bottle while cleaning and packing. It was a hot day and work of any kind was wearing on me. I was still sore from the Doors show. I put on my pink pinstripe mini, a black tank top, and matching pink heart sunglasses, then we headed for Thousand Oaks. Work was pointless.
When we arrived to Thousand Oaks, I could see right from the get go that we were out of place. White people with standard cut t-shirts, khaki shorts, pale skin and white socks slowly walked up and down the sidewalk to the shuttle that took them across the street to the festivities. How green.
We parked and I pulled out a teddy. “Should I put this on with the skirt?”
Abe, “This isn’t a night club.”
When we crossed over and walked to the park, we saw various vendors and a lot of police officers. I heard the Stones echoing from the distance. I followed the music.
Abe, “I am not going to speed up, because the faster I walk, the faster you walk.”
I saw the stage in the distance and hustled.
When Abe caught up to me, we stood at the front of the stage where the Hollywood Stones were pink from the heat, the makeup and sun on their wigs. The lead singer’s microphone was cutting on and off, and only 3 or 4 people sat in front of the stage among 50 or so folding chairs.
The lead singer kept shaking the microphone at the AV guy, who fiddled a little more with the mixer. This definitely needed some StarFire touch.
I didn’t want to dance alone. I was scared like I was in the beginning, in 8th grade when I heard music I wanted to move to but had to stand next to everyone else instead. I didn’t fit in and could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I walked in.
So I tried to cajole Abe into taking my hand and joining me in the few feet of grass between the stage and the chairs. He sat down on a square hay bale along the side. Part of the decor of Earth Day I suppose.
“Time is on My Side” came on, and I thought because it was a ballad, he would join me. So I grabbed his arm, and flirtatiously stepped on his feet, pulled on his sleeve.
He said, “Now you are embarrassing me. I told you I don’t want to dance.”
I can’t expect everyone to dance with me, and just because men will make fools of themselves for me, doesn’t mean that Abe is willing to. I turned towards the stage again. I was so naked up there. Daylight, in the open park and NO ONE DANCING.
I looked behind me and Abe was rushing off into the horizon.
What the fuck?
An older man in his 60s tapped my shoulder, he wore a straw hat with a chin strap and a red polo shirt with something embroidered over the chest. He must have worked there.
He said, “I am sorry. I think I upset your boyfriend.”
I said, “That’s ok, he always gets upset.”
He said, “I told him he should dance with you, I guess I hit a sore spot.”
I said, “I am leaving the country soon. I think he is a little upset about that, and it’s our 2-yr-anniversary today.” Should I mention we are on-again/off-again . . . eh, no need for specifics when speaking with strange men, even in a straw hat.
He said, “I would be upset too, if I was your boyfriend and you were leaving. That happened to me once. She left and broke my heart.”
Me, “Oh yeah? I’m sorry.”
He said, “But she came back. She decided she loved me. That was a long time ago.”
Ok, and SCENE.
I looked back at the music. A puffy woman with frizzy hair in a top-of-the-head ponytail, red pajamas and grey flannel socks was dancing with her much older boyfriend. Strange indeed, but a dancer is a dancer.
They sat down before the next number, and I walked over.
Me, “Hi, excuse me, I was wondering if you would dance with me.”
She said, “Sure, I can dance. My name is Norma. “
Me, “Hi Norma.”
Norma, “What’s yours?”
I told her.
She got up and we danced. My shoes were off and I was dancing to the music barefoot on grass.
It was hot, everyone was staring and my legs felt as stiff as wood, but I danced.
After 40 minutes, the announcer came on and said, “Let’s hear it for the Hollywood Stones.”
I hooted with my hands and waved like I was at a concert. There was a few polite golf clapping behind me but it was otherwise a sickening reception for the greatest cover band ever.
Abe came out of nowhere and said, “So you got someone to dance with you.”
I smiled, “I did. I have had to pee for over an hour now.”
We walked passed all the Sheriff’s cars and Abe bought me a bottle of water and a veggie dog while I relieved myself in the cleanest port-o-potty I have ever had the pleasure upon.
We walked around and sat down under the trees, my head in his lap and a cool breeze to accompany all the high school girls in short shorts and standard cut t-shirts tied around their belly buttons.
Abe said, “Do you know what THAT guy said to me? The exact same thing the woman said to me at the last show.”
Me, “What did he say?”
He said, “If you don’t dance with her, someone else will. So I said, thanks, I know, I am a fucking loser.”
Me, “I really don’t understand why you are so sensitive about it. You don’t dance, neither does my sister and she has followed the band for 15 years. I shouldn’t push you to, I was just feeling shy. I think you would be happier if you danced. And I think my sister would be happier if she danced. But it really doesn’t matter, as long as I can dance.”
He stroked my hair, “Maybe I would. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
I said, “I really don’t belong here. This is some kind of suburbanite vendor fair.”
Abe, “Yes, its just some place where they can sell more plastic.”
Me, “Yup, lots of plastic.”
Abe, “They will exchange their plastic and microwave food and all their other shit but they need to call it something, so they call it ‘Earth Day’.”
He sat up and insisted I drink the water. I was sweating champagne. It wasn’t enough to give me a buzz, but it was enough to dehydrate me in 80 degree weather and a heavy hippie-cardio workout.
He sat on a picnic bench and I put my legs on either side of his lap and slowly lifted my skirt to show him my underwear. He gave a slight smile. Something about that jawline and sunglasses always excites me.
I turned and saw an overweight family stuffing their faces a few picnic tables away and dropped my skirt.
Abe, “Don’t forget where you are.”
It was 3pm and I heard the announcer across the park re-introduce the Hollywood Stones, so I crossed the park, taking in a final mouthful of water. The lead singer came out in his American flag cape and I said, “Uh oh, he’s got the cape on.”
I walked over to Norma, extended my hand and bowed in front of her. She took my hand, jumped up and danced.
Out of the blue, a little 3-year-old girl came running up and danced. She was mimicking my moves, and I can tell you I know they weren’t hyper sexual because she was jumping up and down, giving me a double thumbs up from both hands as they took turns swinging back and forth at me, and waved her hands in the air like a hippie.
I avoided looking at the band because I was shy. Mostly I sing, I bounce, I swing around.
The little girl walked up to the lead singer as he tapped his wood guiro shaker in his red and white striped tights with a pocket for his genitals in the front. Norma tried dancing with the little girl and gave her a leaf. The little girl walked the leaf back to her mother and charged at me, galloping like a horse and smiling. She really liked the way I danced.
So I got low down and danced with her as much as possible. A father brought his little girl out to dance with him. The spirits of the band rose and we were all smiling.
About 4 songs deep, I made eye contact with a police officer who motioned for me to walk over. I put my hand on my chest, to ask if he meant me. He nodded.
I walked over and two tall, male police officers towered over me and started to speak. One looked over my shoulder at the stage probably noting that the band was disturbed by this happening, and said, “Please follow us behind the stage.” So I did.
The first police officer said, “First of all, where are you from?”
I answered firmly, “Los Angeles” (I thought, should I specify between Sylmar and France? . . . no, once again, better to be vague with strange men.)
Then the second officer said, “Are you here with anyone?”
I said, “Yeah, my ex-boyfriend is walking around here somewhere, why?”
Cop #1 (chuckling), “Ex-boyfriend?”
Me (stone faced), “Yeah. My ex-boyfriend.”
Passed the first test: I am sober.
Cop #2, “We are getting complaints from parents about your dancing. They say when you jump up and down, your skirt is flying up and one mother said you aren’t wearing any panties.”
I said, “I am wearing panties.”
They stuck their hand out flat in my face to silence me.
Me, “I mean . . . they’re pink but they are panties.”
Cop #2, “Well, it doesn’t matter. We can’t have you dancing out there anymore.”
I pulled down my skirt and said, “Oh, well, I have pants in the car but . . .”
Cop #2 nodded his head firmly, “Now, you can either sit down and enjoy the rest of the show, or leave, or . . . you can put some pants on.”
Me, “Its too hot for pants. How can I not dance? Do you hear this music?”
Cop #1, “If you keep dancing we have people standing by to escort you out of the park.”
Me, “Why are you talking to me that way? I am just here to enjoy the music!”
They both started shushing me, shaking their hands and putting their palms out again, as if I was about to lose my mind in a premenstrual homicidal rage.
Cops, “Now now now, we aren’t talking to you any way, we are just letting you know . . .”
I was pissed.
Cop #2, “Either sit down or leave.”
Me, “I will leave.”
So I stormed off away from them, around the stage and immediately rounded the corner to see the lead singer looking down on me, inquisitive.
I threw my hands up in the air, walked over to my shoes, bent down so EVERYONE COULD SEE MY PANTIES, and walked away down the middle of those empty folding chairs.
Well, there were now 6 men sitting near the back, I am sure to watch Norma and the 3-year-old.
Out of nowhere, Abe comes running up.
Abe, “Did they tell you you had to stop dancing because you were flashing your ass to everyone?”
I grunted a “Yeah. But I was pulling down my skirt most of the time.”
Abe, “I know, I saw you.”
Me, “This is bullshit. They just don’t want me here. Fuck this place.”
I took the empty plastic water bottle and tossed it on the ground in front of all the fat mothers who triumphantly watched my skinny (yet pleasantly shaped) ass walk out of there!
I walked fast. I heard the band stop for a few seconds, then resume.
I was humiliated. Its a STONES concert. It was the last concert I could see until who knows when.
Did everyone hate me that much? Did I make THAT much of a spectacle of myself?
I J-walked in front of the shuttles of able bodied white people and charged around the empty carnival equipment waiting to burn oil in honor of the Earth. Then I leaned up against Abe’s car and waited for him to catch up.
He did and I sat down in the car with the door open and asked for a cigarette.
We smoked in silence as tears ran down my plastic, pink hearts.
Me, “Am I that much of an embarrassment? That the police have to intervene and threaten me?”
Abe sighed, “No baby, you’re awesome.”
Me, “I wasn’t overtly sexual.”
Abe, “You really weren’t.”
Me, “And I was dancing with that 3 yr old the last two songs, how terrible could I be?”
Abe, “The mom left with her right as they took you behind stage. They had you back there for a long time. I was going to go back there. It was over two minutes and I told myself, ‘One more minute, and I am heading back there.”
Me, “Fuck this place. I hate all these people. They just didn’t want me here because I am different.”
Abe, “Its a family event.”
Me, “But it’s THE STONES. The songs are either about sex or drugs. I mean, ‘I’m the bleeding volcano?”
Abe, “I heard them play your song.”
I smiled. I had been obsessing over “She’s So Cold”. Well, that was two obsessions ago. Now it was “Emotional Rescue”.
We started driving out of that pit, away from the manicured lawns, and the baseball hats and the white children with great posture and clear skin.
He put on his ipod and “I Can’t Get No (Satisaction)” came on.
And I try
And I try
And I try
And I tryyy . . .
Me, “I like that you put on my music to calm me down.”
Abe, “I don’t know what else to do.”
Me, “It works.”
Abe, “You are great. Everyone loves you. You got people dancing. The band loves you. Try not to let it get to you.”
Abe, “Hey, at least you didn’t wear that teddy. Can you imagine?”
Yeah. I can.
I got on Facebook and wrote on the band’s wall:
“Am I the only fan who has been kicked out of your show for dancing? In a public park? On Earth Day? Jesus, if that doesnt make me your #1 fan, I don’t know what does.”
Like · · April 28 at 5:18pm near Thousand Oaks, CA
Abe said, “Way to fit in that you are their #1 fan.”
It was on the 118 FWY, an hour and a half after the show, that I checked my Facebook and saw that the band wrote back.
Me, “Hey, they responded to my wall post.”
We hovered over my phone and read:
“Your dancing was the most inspirarional thing for us during the show! I don’t understand how dancing is “bad” for the environment. We owe you a Hollywood stones t-shirt!”
April 28 at 6:34pm via · Unlike ·
Me: “♥ I am off to France for awhile. I don’t know when I will be back, so I was trying to fit in as many shows as possible. I will hit a show as soon as I can and collect that t-shirt ♥April 28 at 7:22pm via mobile · Like
Abe groaned, “Well mission accomplished, the band knows who you are now.”
I giggled. I said, “Now it all feels worth it, damn it.”
As Frank later said, “It really is a badge of honor.”
We headed back to my place and smoked a bowl in the dust from my landlord’s mercedes.
Abe, “Your landlord just checked out your ass.”
Me, “Who hasn’t?”
We ran into our neighbor, a nice Hispanic pool cleaner who lived upstairs with his longtime girlfriend and their teenage son.
Abe said, “And they told her she couldn’t dance anymore because her skirt was flying up. But you couldn’t see more than the curve of her ass.”
Me, “AND . . . its a Rolling Stones concert.”
Neighbor, “That’s ridiculous. You know Phil, the old neighbor that used to live here, he saw all those guys in concert back in the day. The real guys, Hendrix … all of them.”
I got perky and smiled. Gold dust.
Neighbor, “He said, back then Burbank had a sign that said, ‘Welcome to Burbank, Niggers Must Be Gone by Dark.”
We fell silent.
Neighbor, “Thats not too long ago.”
We said goodnight.
Neighbor, “You staying here or somewhere else.”
Me, “I can’t stay here anymore, its just too much. All of it.”
Abe, “I am taking her and the dogs to a motel. Its just too dirty in there. I want her to sleep some place nice.”
Neighbor, “That will come back to you someday, taking care of her like this.”
I smiled at him as he put out his cigarette and shook his head.
He is the best ex-boyfriend a girl could ask for.
We all piled into my car and got a room at the Motel 6 in Sylmar. My head started throbbing with a migraine. The crying, the champagne, the sun all were the perfect combination for a killer migraine.
I laid down and begged for some pot.
Abe packed a bowl. Walked my dogs and I woke up the next morning almost completely back together.
We made love on our Queen bed, while the dogs watched from the other.
He said, “I am really going to miss you.”
I buried my head in his shoulder. I wasn’t ready to get sentimental. I was too happy. My life was just beginning, but I would have to lose my best friend first.
I usually check my phone after sex, and I said, “The band wrote back to me again:
‘(StarFire), Have a safe journey. The shirt will be waiting for you when you get back. see the guitarist with the Gold Les Paul:)
April 29 at 11:41am · Unlike ·
Well, LA, you just won’t let me go, will you? Now I have to come back.
I wrote: “More incentive to find my way back to LA. See ya soon! Save my spot. 🙂 xo”
April 29 at 3:42pm via mobile · Like