Before The Dance


Marcia Christine Tindall

Early evening, you survey the contents of your closet as if the Stylish Dyke Fashion Fairy made a secret delivery while you showered. It’s possible. It has taken thirteen minutes to eliminate three pairs of blue jeans and settle on black boot-cut – of course the boot-cut. You peer down at your socked feet and whisper, ‘my dears, boots are waiting for you.’  It is your game, to pretend that your feet have a crush on your boots.  And why not?  Those wine-red boots, elaborately embossed, elegant scalloped silver caps on the toes – those boots are heart-breakers.  They have never, will never kick shit, those boots, but the slide and slip of their smooth leather soles on a dance floor kicks some ass, yes it does.  Any feet in their right minds would fall for those boots, and your feet are right-minded.


You have a new appreciation for your smart little feet, ever since they walked you straight through a terror-storm of shyness into a dance lesson, Country Western, who knew? where form confers freedom and you found the beat. You sketch a box step then and there, half wishing you could go to the ball just as you are, Cinderella: socks, boots, jeans, sports bra.  The shirt, the shirt is always the problem.


So many hangers, so little appeal. You resist the insidious suggestion that a tee-shirt would do.  You have a feeling about tonight, maybe a ‘spring is here’ feeling but maybe something more, a ‘hearts do heal after all’ feeling.  But seventeen no-iron button-down long-sleeved shirts, color range white to navy, are not hopeful. Three western-style prints beg for attention: one mostly orange, too autumnal; one mostly gray, too wrinkled; one mostly brown – that last a sad mistake, what were you thinking?  Brown shirt, you have no music in your threads. You yank it from the closet and drop it on the floor.

Your belly twists, the shirt crisis wringing out your courage.  The courage you need to walk into that room of women who’ve known their truth, owned their truth for so long, and you so raw.  Just a greenhorn, you think, hanging out with the old hands to learn their clever ways.  Like how do they find the right shirt?


You shove the hangers to one side, seeking treasure in the dark recesses.  Here are the banished shirts, too weird or shy to be worn often.  Too formal, too girly, too heavy for an evening dancing in the arms of – pass, pass, pass.   Oh. Look here. This One. You examine its appeal as if it leaned against a bar across the room, the color suspended between purple and blue, between desire and embrace, paisley-traced with the thinnest black thread, a map to explore.  Christian Siriano smiles on this summer night.

Slip arms into sleeves and flip a Fosse wrist. Hum as you button, pull on those boots. Cock a hip at the mirror. Smooth an eyebrow. Ruffle your hair. Say to yourself, the music is playing, the women are waiting. Come out, honey. Come out tonight.