Reunion weekend has begun in spectacular fashion. Social lubricants are being shared. Friendships almost forgotten, are being rekindled.
“Hey, I’m gonna grab another drink some dirty air,” Derek says trying to get out of the conversation.
“Dirty Air?” Tim questions.
Miming smoking, “A cigarette, or better yet weed if I can find it,” Says D on his way to the bar. Tim is a nice guy but damn he’s annoying. I wonder if Donna has another joint? Where did I last see her?
“Hi, G n T, please,” D shouts over the speaker conveniently placed next to the bar. The bartender nods. Scanning the room for Donna, he spots Mary in an animated conversation with Terry, a dance floor of 4 people he barely remembers in front of the DJ, but no Donna.
“Here you go,” Says the bartender while tapping Derek on the shoulder.
“Thanks,” Derek replies as he lifts his cup to the barkeep.
He steps outside the tent to continue his search. No Donna insight. Four people make their way away from the tent together. Derek catches up as they reach their destination. Faces were placed in the high school timeline, excuses were made for why they all weren’t better friends back then, and two blunts were shared. As a group, they regain the nerve to go back to the tent and join the “Fun”. For Derek it was time for another drink, putting his gifted blunt in his pocket as he approached the bar.
Receiving another G n T, Derek makes his way through to Terry one of two black men and of five black people overall who came.
“Hey man, how’s life treating you?” Derek asks.
Cheers-ing, Terry responds, “Pretty well. I’m down in DC now. It’s a wonderful city.”
“Oh! I love DC. I was just there for a wedding,” adds Derek.
The conversation evolves into personal lives, work to fun ratios, and the reality that our lives are far different than they are perceived. Until Mary, her twin Kate, and Paul decide to interject themselves into the flowing conversation.
Mary over the music, “It’s great to see you guys here!”
Derek, “It’s great to see you too.”
Kate chimes in, “We should dance.”
Terry, “I don’t really feel like dancing now. Maybe in a bit.”
“Oh come on you guys have got to dance!” shouts Paul.
“We’ll dance in a minute,” says Derek.
“Oh come on. If you two dance everyone else will,” pleads Mary.
Taking a second to notice how actually empty the dance floor was Derek says, “That may be true. But, If you went out there and danced. I’m positive some people will join you,” and the three poor souls already dancing.
“But you guys are the best dancers!” says Mary with a pouty look.
“Get started without us, we’ll join you in a minute,” says Terry masking his annoyance.
Paul adds, “It’s not a party if you two aren’t dancin’ with us.”
Trying not to shake his head in disbelief, Derek says, “Let us finish catching up, and we will join you out there.”
Kate goes to chime in but is pulled away by her sister to dance.
“So that was weird, right?” asks Derek.
“Yeah, it’s like they think they can’t dance without us. Like we’re the ‘Cool Kids’ or some shit,” Terry responds
“Or some shit indeed,” Derek says looking down at his empty glass, “I’m too sober for this shit. Bar?”
“Naw, I’m gonna find my wife. I’m sure she’ll want to dance. I’ve left her alone for too long already.”
They exchange, “see you later”s and go their separate ways. Looking over to the dance floor while waiting for his drink, the trio continuously waves him over. His drink arrives, he immediately orders another, and downs the one in hand. This is some weird shit. We were “Cool” in school, but it’s not like we always danced together then. I don’t even feel like dancing right now. I guess High School peer pressure was to be expected. The next drink arrives and his slow saunter towards the dance floor begins. The DJ throws on a banger. Making his way over Derek finds his groove. The all-white crowd perks up and follows his descent to the faux wood dance floor.
The energy in the tent grew as Terry and his wife joined the crowd*. Shanique, Elite, and Samantha (the black girls) made their way into the moving mass. Song after song the middle became more ethnocentric. A pond of bodies moved to the music taking its cues from its dark center.
Derek realized he had gone from the edge to the middle without effort. Looking out he saw the joy on his classmates’ faces as they watched or danced along. It soon stopped being fun. It’s like I’m on display. These people aren’t dancing with me, they’re moving along to make their gaze less evident. I’m outta here. I need another drink.
People’s faces frowned slightly as he passed them by. “Can you make it a double this time?” Derek asks the bartender. Watching their bodies bounce to the rhythm with an eye keenly focused on the nucleus. It’s like we’re monkeys dancing for their entertainment. There are more people around the floor than at any other point tonight. I bet dollars to Donalds as soon as the black kids stop dancing so does everyone else.
Taking his drink and pursuing the edge of the dancing blob. Backs faced outward and most eyes focused on the four in the middle as if the group thought was, “What will they do next? I don’t want to miss a thing.”
Caught by Kate, “What are you doing out here? Come on and dance.” All Derek heard was, “Come on Monkey, dance. We want to see you dance.”
“I’m tired of dancing,” he says taking a sip and looking outside the tent.
“Oh come on. You know you want to,” she said with a self-assured assumption.
I know this bitch didn’t just assume I want to dance. “What makes you think I want to dance?”
“I don’t know, you’re just so good at it. I thought you just loved to,” Kate says with a slight stumble and a smile, “I always liked the way you guys dance.”
OOOOhhhh so it’s “you guys” now. Fuck this, “Let’s go,” Derek says forcing a smile.
Derek dances his way directly to the middle, the group applauds his return. Leaning in toward Terry’s white wife Tiffany, “You wanna burn? I’ve got a blunt and I’m tired of being watched dancing.” She nods and passes the plan to Terry, who relays it to Shanique’s white husband Theo. The message telephones its way around the inner circle. Derek leads the minor exodus, leaving Elite and Samantha who didn’t smoke.
The mass of forty moving bodies dwindled to fifteen within half a song. Watching and smoking from a distance, Fucking called it. They just wanted to watch us. One song later Samantha stopped and six others with her. Elite lasted another two songs and stopped to be replaced by a plastered Timothy Waters. A small group dance watched him until he became a sad sight. The dance floor remained empty.