Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 26-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
The sun is setting and the sea is sparkling. Billy Idol is singing “Dancing With Myself.” Ann, a 60-something former world-class ballerina, is doing classic moves between the hydraulic gym equipment. I’m dancing around in front of her saying, “There is no place I rather be than dancing with you Ann—it doesn’t get any better than this.” This or maybe watching Gertrude Stein run through a huge rose garden with electric clippers while the song” I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” plays, Gertrude saying, “A rose is a rose is a rose,” which is often misinterpreted as “things are what they are,” but, by which she meant simply using the name of a thing invokes imagery and emotions associated with it. Which is why I prefer to be around people who don’t toss noun-petals at my feet, in my path, in my way. I like my experiences without roses.
“Anything new with the online dating?” Ann asks.
“The last two guys I started something with had Rottweilers. I’m not a Rottweiler fancier at all.”
Ann laughs, and looks at me over the top of her glasses. “Oh dear,” she says with her now-faint English accent.
“Guy One’s dog was young, dumb,” I say. “It jumped up and got its nose between my legs—and it ate the sleeve of Guy One’s wool sweater.”
Ann shakes her head. “Why would a dog eat a sweater?”
“It think it was passive aggressive. Guy One wanted to control the way the dog behaved. Actually, Guy One wanted to control everyone. He was starting a new religion—a new religion without a god.”
“I guess Guy One wanted to be the number-one guy.”
“Yes, that sums it up perfectly,” I say, dancing around.
“Oh Jean—you are finding some very odd men in this online dating,” says Ann, doing lovely kicks and twists.
“Odd is a very good word, but I’m not sure the problem lies in the method. There are some odd men out there, maybe especially in this age bracket—the over-50 set.”
“I think if a man is starting a new religion you can safely delete him from your list of potential suitors,” says Ann.
“It can take a while for all the clues and hints to add up.”
“What were some of the clues?”
“Well, there was no door on the bedroom and the dog and his jumping ways and his cold wet nose were distracting during sex,” I say and Ann rolls her eyes while doing her graceful swan arms. I continue, “Guy One got up and took the door off the bathroom and hung it on the bedroom hinges, but the bathroom door was simply smaller and it did not close, so Guy One got a big chunk of coral from his collection to hold the door closed. He was a big guy—over six feet tall—and he picked a big piece of coral and for myself, when I went to the bathroom, I bent naked, naked and ticklish, lifting and carrying the large chunk of coral across the room. With the door now freely open—and Guy One’s dog with the cold wet nose—and me being naked, naked and ticklish—looking for where to set the coral down … ” My voice trails off when Ann begins shaking her head in dismay.
“No door on the bedroom would be enough for me,” Ann says. “You are meeting the wrong men, Jean.”
I laugh and say, “You may be right, but it’s hard to know until you let them behave for a little while.”
“You must have some way of finding out about them before you meet them.”
“Guy One looked good on paper.”
Ann finishes her work out, packs up and heads for the door. “I’ll ask you about the other Rottweiler’s owner next time I drop by the theatre of the absurd.”
“Yes, see you then,” I say, waving good-bye, imitating her very graceful swan arms, thinking about that version of the story and what her reaction says about her experiences beyond the footlights of London’s ballet stages into the bed sits of Earls Court in the 1950s, the 60s and then on into her married life with whom? Perhaps a very refined David Nivenesque character or a Sherlock Holmesian fellow (all tweed, mustache wax)—men with impeccably glossy veneers who hid, as men do and did, what is perhaps now more common to expose, to explore. Back when a man, on a whim, did not take the door off his bedroom.