Polly 4

22 Nov

Following the inexplicable mid-Ohio habit for appending to place names a superfluous possessive (Kroger’s, Barnes and Noble’s, etc.), the club had, for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s, been called 1470′s. Cleverly, its owner named it after the numbers on the mailbox. During that time, it had been a goth club, at least until the scene had died whimpering beneath an hysterical avalanche of moral panic in 1999. Seeking a more populous and resilient clientele, it reinvented itself as a gay club called Masque. After that, it had no trouble staying open.

Not wishing to fully abandon the newly orphaned goths—who, if we’re being honest, are mostly just nerds dressed in black and who, now that the one place in town where they could plausibly deny that particular wretched truth had closed, were reduced to lurking awkwardly in the soggy corners of cafes, record stores and bookshops—Masque threw out the occasional goth night. After all, the patronage of these establishments has some overlap, and it’s not out of place to see two boys making out on a couch in venues of either theme. On Halloween, the club returned fully to its roots.

We parked a couple of blocks away at an inactive meter, mostly because I preferred not to acknowledge, at least in front of Polly, that the luxury of a paid lot, along with the cover charge and the price of the single drink I’d be nursing all evening, was beyond my means. She didn’t seem to notice. She bumped the passenger door shut with her hip and walked in fluid, rolling steps toward the club, finely conscious of my repressed lust for her. Those feelings remained immobilized for the moment beneath a thick rubble of resignation, but I watched her, and she watched me watch.

We followed the swelling mass of costumes upstairs. Much of the crowd went with off-the-shelf sexy, polyester pirates and witches with the occasional cat ears and leotard. Rarer souls had made their own costumes. A cardboard box robot shoved his way down the stairs, banging helplessly against the wall and leaving long gouges in his tinfoil. I knew it’d be better if no one recognized us, but I relied on the masks in the crowd to share with us their anonymity. The narrow hallway opened up into a larger room with tables on either end of it, a large open space that reminded me of a repurposed roller rink. From some corner, a fog machine blew a thick cloud over the dance floor.

Polly asked me to dance, and we danced. She moved herself close to me, pulling away and turning her head and pretending to cough from the fake mist whenever I leaned desperately in to kiss her. Her steps brought her again close against my body once I’d pulled back in defeat. She disappeared to the ladies room, looking down, intent on a text message. I waited out her absence on one of the long benches by the wall. A few feet away, two of the club’s regulars, middle-aged men in flannel and paint-stained jeans, kissed passionately. I looked at them and tried not to think about Polly’s lips. She reappeared, grinning widely and walking with uneven steps. She threw her arms around my neck, kissing my cheek. I smelled whiskey and cigarettes.

“Hi,” she said.

I smiled as genuinely as I could. “Hi. Where’ve you been?”

She gestured behind her. “I ran into my friend Roger. You should meet him.”

It turned out I’d already met him some months earlier, sometime while she’d been presenting me to her circle as a “best friend” trophy. He was part of a couple, a fashionably suburban gay union who lived across the street from Polly. She discussed her marital woes by way of analogy with his. It seems his partner also failed to put out sufficiently, and so, to preserve the relationship, once a month he was granted a weekend of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Polly spoke of this arrangement in terms of deep envy. Tonight was his weekend off.

She leaned into me, supporting the pliant weight of her body with mine. “He’s having a hard time,” she said softly, more or less into my ear. “You should kiss him.”

“It’ll be hot.”


Leave a Reply


  1. Mathias

    November 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

    It pains me to here you get jerked around like this. Of course, the red flags that have been flying since a few miles back in this relationship have probably grown tired and given up at this point.

    I know, I know: everything’s clearer in retrospect.

  2. Dan

    November 24, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Seriously. I need to get more persistent red flags.