Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the Parti poodle here to introduce the third chapter in my story Alanna the Piranha. It is progressively getting colder around here, and my walks are now in the glorious afternoons as earlier in the day does not suit me this time of year. The Maltese and I have taken to choosing our heat vents. Mine is upstairs and the Maltese’s is wherever I am not. One of the wonderous parts of the autumn season is most of the best movies of the year begin to make themselves known. And more and more of them are coming to streaming at the same time they hit the theatres. This affords me endless joy as I often spend my evenings shoving the Maltese out of the way and curling up with my novelist to watch a film. My novelist’s stream of the week which is one of these delights has a special twist. I’ll let her tell you about it later. In the meantime, I proudly present to you Alanna the Piranha Chapter Three. Profitez de l’histoire!
Alanna the Piranha
Gigi the parti poodle
Day the Third
The third most important thing you need to know about me is I love to dance. I know you think that’s weird but it’s true. An Incel who dances is like a Chad who can’t get a date. But I do dance. And I’ve danced on and off since I was eight years old.
It all started when my mother asked my sister Stacy if she would like to take ballet and tap lessons. Stacy, who’s room has always been awash in ballerina pink went nuts. She bounced around the house all day. But there was a catch, you see. My mother told me the dance school had a two for one deal. That meant I had to take classes with Stacy.
“Mom,” I said. “I don’t want to take dance classes I want to play baseball!”
“You can play baseball and take dance classes.”
“All the other boys will laugh at me!”
“Not when they find out how much better coordinated you are for dancing.”
“What?” my dad called from his office.
“Mom wants me to take ballet and tap lessons!”
“There have been football players who take ballet lessons.”
“But dad, I want to be a baseball player.”
“At two for one you’ll be a baseball player who can dance.”
“You can’t be in little league unless you take dance lessons.” That is when I hurled myself on the carpet and threw the biggest fit of my life so far. But it was in vain. I only managed to score an insanely long timeout in my room. Two weeks later I was wearing black ballet slippers and standing at the bar in Babette Babineaux’s School of Dance. And let me tell you Babette was a tyrant. If you didn’t have your five positions down, she would scream at you in French. Stacy, of course never got yelled at.
At first, I refused to practice. I was the only boy in the class. I felt like a girl. And it was just my luck that some of the guys on my little league team had sisters in my dance classes, so everyone knew Flint Fisk was a ballerina. I got in fights. I got my ass handed to me. It was just sad, bruh. Sad. But then one day Babette came up to me and said, “Vous devez pratiquer” or in other words I need to practice. I told her what for? I didn’t want to dance. My parents made me, and I felt like a loser. She said, “Vous n’êtes qu’un perdant si vous n’essayez pas” or in other words I am only a loser if I do not try. I told her I didn’t like the type of dancing I was doing. She said “Je vous donnerai des cours de danse jazz gratuitement” which means I will give you jazz dancing lessons for free. If I didn’t want to practice after that I could quit.
So, now I was taking ballet, tap and jazz. And since little league was in the spring and summer it was my one extracurricular activity during the fall and winter. For some reason I really took to jazz. You remember that film Napoleon Dynamite? You know that solo dance he does? Yeah, that’s the kind of dancing I was doing. It was awesome. I started practicing every day. Ms. Babineaux was a little upset that I was only practicing jazz dancing so she told me if I put more effort into ballet and tap it would improve my jazz.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was never the best student in Babette Babineaux’s School of Dance. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was I kept practicing and I kept getting better. And stupidly as I got older, I thought women would like a gentleman who could hold his own on the dance floor. Wrong!
My first public dance outside of dance recitals was a talent show in seventh grade. For some reason I was idealistic about this. I signed up and auditioned. I got in easily and the panel loved me. Of course, the panel was made up of teachers and moms not my fellow classmates. We had two performances: one for the afternoon school assembly and the other for the parents at night. I was slotted second to last.
Ms. Babineaux, eager to pimp her studio got a costume for me. This wasn’t one of those cheap things you see at temporary Halloween stores or something. This was a truly cool outfit. The shirt alone cost about a hundred and fifty dollars. And I don’t even want to go into the cost of the pants. And the hat. Oh, man the hat. Anyway, I looked dope. I worked two hours a day for a month on the routine alone. Ms. Babineaux had chosen “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake as the song.
Then came the day of the performances and I felt ready to bring down the house. Ms. Babineaux told me she would attend the evening performance. All day I was nervous. I even snuck backstage during lunch and practiced the routine. Finally, it was two o’clock in the afternoon and all thirty of us performers got backstage. We each had three minutes exactly to perform. I had my routine timed out perfectly.
I started to get wicked nervous. I watched student after student head out on stage with their act: magicians, hula dancers, guitarists, piano players. I sat listening to the muffled applause after each performance. Then I started to shiver. It was like the temperature in the room plummeted. I worried I would forget the steps or even freeze on stage. I don’t know why. I’d never had this problem at a dance recital. But then again, I’d never had a solo at a dance recital. Even a jazz dance solo.
“Hey, Fisk,” the stage manager Steve Stuckler this skinny guy who always wore these oversized glasses said. “Get your ass into the wings. You’re next.”
I stood up and could feel my legs shake. I followed him into the wings. Now, I’d warmed up before the show, but I felt I needed to warm up more. I started stretching backstage and realized how dark and ominous it felt in the wings. Ursella Lewis, who was a juggler was the act before me. She said, “You look nervous, Flint.”
“I do?” I said surprised and embarrassed.
“You looked good in rehearsal. You’ll rock this.”
“Thanks,” I said, grateful for the vote of confidence. “Your act is da bomb.”
The audience applauded the dueling violins by the Relish twins. Ursella took a deep breath and headed on stage. The final act, the one after mine was the Culpepper brothers. One was in sixth grade, one in seventh and one in eighth. They were Chads with a capitol C. They had decided to form a rock band called Eat This and always had something nasty to say to me.
“Hey, Fisk,” the oldest one said. “Where’s your tutu?”
The middle and younger brother cackled.
“Suck mine,” I said.
Big brother shoved me. “What did you say, loser?”
I did not appreciate this neanderthal getting in my head space. But the last thing I needed was to go out on stage with blood all over my shirt. “Nothing,” I replied.
“Yeah, you’re right nothing, fairy princess.”
The middle and younger brother cackled louder.
“You couldn’t get a chick if you made one.”
“Like you score,” I said.
“You’re an eighth grader.”
“So? You think just because I’m an eighth grader I haven’t scored?”
“I think it’s highly improbable.”
That’s when he slapped my butt, and I almost fell onstage.
“Hey, what, twinkle toes?”
“What are you, a criminal?”
“Our mom is. You got a problem with that?”
“Our dad’s always going over to Purdie for conjugal visits.”
That’s when the audience applauded for Ursula.
“Get your ass on stage, Fisk,” Stuckler told me.
Grateful to get away from these hyenas, I hurried out on stage and got into position. The spotlight shone on me, and I could feel my hands trembling. Then the electronic beat kicked in and I began to move. Within seconds my fear dissipated, and I was dancing like a pro. I spun, I kicked, I grooved. I forgot the audience was even there. When the music stopped, I struck my final pose, and the audience went ballistic. I cannot tell you how exhilarating it was standing and feeling justification for the first time in my life. Afterwards girls who had never even talked to me before were coming up and telling me how much they loved my performance. They were so sweet to me I thought they liked me as a human being.
Two weeks later was the seventh-grade spring dance. I talked my mother into buying me some new clothes I thought would make me look cool. She was always buying Stacy cool clothes, so I figured I was justified. When I put them on that evening, I thought I looked like a sharp dressed man. My dad drove me to the school. Before I went inside, he said to me, “Son, you look like a lady-killer,” and told me to have a good time. Something about the intonation in his voice, however, was less than convincing.
I went inside and checked my clothes and checked everyone else’s clothes and I decided I was dressed appropriately. I looked over and saw this group of maybe six girls, a couple of them were in my classes. I told myself to go over and ask if any of them wanted to dance. As I started moving that direction, I saw the middle Culpepper brother walk up and do exactly what I was planning. The girls giggled and smiled and one of them followed him to the dance floor. See, I told myself, easy.
But as I started to approach them, I could see them look at each other before pulling out their phones.
“Um…hi,” I said. “I was wondering if one of you would like to dance?”
I stood there politely, looking from one girl to the next but they just ignored me and kept looking at their phones.
“I’m…I’m a pretty good dancer,” I said with a nervous laugh. But they just continued to look at their phones and pretend I didn’t exist.
I felt about as embarrassed I’d ever remembered being and I quietly turned and disappeared into the crowd. I went back to the wall I had been standing against and watched a couple of Culpepper’s buddies walk up to the same girls. They giggled and flirted, and two girls followed the guys out to the dance floor.
But I didn’t give up. I walked up to another group of girls, all smart, in the same classes as I was, and I asked if they wanted to dance. They at least didn’t ignore me. They just looked me up and down like I was garbage and said, “No, thanks.”
“Have a fun tonight,” I said and walked away.
Finally, I noticed one girl who was in all my classes standing alone. She was very shy and hardly ever spoke. But she seemed sweet, and I thought, maybe I could show off some of my cool moves to her. Maybe I could teach her how to dance. But when I walked up to her, she got this mortified look on her face and ran off.
I spent the rest of the dance leaning against the wall watching everyone dance but me. So even though I still like to dance, I know it’s something I’m better off doing alone. Anyway, my package gets here in three days. I can hardly wait.
You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE GUILTY (2018)-Hulu & THE GUILTY (2021)-Netflix
This week you are in for a special treat. The newest movie to hit Netflix and theatres is the remake of the Danish film The Guilty staring Jake Gyllenhaal. What is important to note about both the original which is playing on Hulu and the American remake on Netflix is they are what one would call contained films. You may be seeing more contained films in the future because they can be more safely shot during Covid-19. They have micro small casts and are often filmed on one set or with very few locations. These types of films rely heavily on their writing and acting. Some contained films are 127 Hours, All is Lost, Buried, Closet Land, Dead Calm, Duel, Gravity, Locke, Monsters, Moon, Oleanna, Open Water, The Blair Witch Project, Venus in Fur and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Both versions of The Guilty seemed to play better with critics than viewers. Probably because many modern day Americans in the dawn of vapid overproduced superhero movies have a hard time distinguishing quality from flash. And in fact, the American version is glossier looking with more emotional crescendos than the original. This is a film for grownups not children. And I am not referring to one’s age. That said, both films are excellent. Especially the lead actors, Jakob Cedergren in the Danish version who plays the lead role of Asger Holm with introverted naturalistic intensity and Jake Gyllenhaal who plays the lead roll Joe Baylor with more extroverted tension. Both ways work very well. All you need to know about the story going in is that it takes place over the course of one night in the life of a demoted policeman working the dispatch desk for emergency calls. And that it is based on an actual emergency call Gustav Möller, the director and co-writer of the Danish film heard on YouTube. Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano and Riley Keough all lend their voices to the American version.