Some readers have complained about the length of my Bob's blog posts, so this morning, by popular demand, I'll try to be mercifully brief. [Editor's Note: Unfortunately, now that I've finished the blog entry and gone back to see how long it is, I see that I violated every reasonable meaning of the term "mercifully brief." Shall I try harder next time, when I write about my Adventures in the Mezzo Upstairs Disco? Feel free to leave a comment about that issue on Bob's blog, at the end of this post, or at my e-mail address:
email@example.com. Thank you. The Editor.]
Last Saturday I paid my fourth visit to the Mezzo Grille Caribbean-like outdoor bar and patio area. It's a very big space, which you can see on a video clip posted below on Bob's blog, along with some other cool videos I've collected for your viewing pleasure.
I arrived about 10:15 p.m. and went right through the Mezzo Grille's restaurant and out onto the outside patio and bar area. The young guy who sings with his amplified but acoustic guitar, and background computer soundtracks, was up on the little stage on the east side of the patio/bar area. There were several hundred people sitting at the patio tables and lots of people standing up, among the tables, and up the steps at the Caribbean-style thatched-roof oval-shaped bar at the southwest corner of the patio, and up the steps to a raised deck at the south end of the patio and adjacent to the north end of the restaurant. The patio is lit up with artificial lighting, which may be energy-efficient, because it has an unnatural hue, which has the effect of making it seem a bit like daylight, at nighttime.
I was wearing my dark blue CAL tee shirt, which I bought in the student store at U Cal Berkeley in June when I was visiting Jamie in the Mission in San Francisco and Robin in Oakland, where she lives, just three miles east of the Berkeley campus. I also had on my khaki-colored shorts, with the tee shirt hanging out, and my gray Teva sandals, without socks, of course, which I wear exclusively, in summer.
I recently befriended a man who graduated from Wesleyan about 13 years after I did, and his lady friend and companion, from Mexico City. J and L met over a decade ago in Prague, where they lived until last year, when he returned to Middletown, and she came with him, all to Middletown's benefit, and Prague's loss. One great thing about L, among many others, is that she speaks beautiful, fluent, French, sans accent Mexicane, so I can, when L's willing, stumble along in my bumbling, but growing-in-proficiency, French, or what passes en quelque quartiers, comme le Francais.
Anyway, J and L had hoped to accompany me on my Mezzo adventure but, at the last minute, life intervened, and they could not come with me, to dance, to observe, to soak in The Scene. Hence, I entered the Mezzo's outside patio, toute seule, in other words, solo.
Nobody, as usual, was dancing, even though this singer has a really good voice and sings some pretty decent dance music. Not as hard-driving, NY-style, hip-hop, can't stop yourself from dancin', beat as in the upstairs Mezzo disco, but great dancing music, all the same. Yet every one of the hundreds of 20 to 30-year-olds, and the handful of drinkers in their 40's, was just sittin' there, as though brain-dead, just gabbin' and jawin' at each other, tryin' to Look Good and Not Act Foolish, No Matter What. They might just as well all have been quadriplegics in wheel chairs, or polio victims in Iron Lungs, or waxed celebrities on loan from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London, for all the life they displayed as I sauntered onto the patio.
So I stood there for a few minutes, talking to this guy who looked to be about 35, who was sitting there at a table with his girlfriend. He asked me if I needed a place to sit down. He must have taken one look at my gray beard and discerned I'm in my 60's, and thought I might not be able to support myself on my old, decrepit, legs. As I was waiting for him to ask me if I needed help moving the four feet from where I stood to the empty chair at his table, he asked why I had come to the Mezzo that night. "Just to dance and have fun." That answer was followed by a skeptical smile on his face. He took another pull on his cigarette and said, sarcastically, "Sure, man. If you dance, I'll get up and dance with you."
With that, I turned towards the singer on the raised little wooden podium, put my arms in the air, turned to the crowd at the raised Caribbean-style thatched-roof-covered bar, and began boogy-ing to the beat. As has happened the other three times I've been there in the same situation, all, or mostly all (as far as I could take in, in the kind of BLINK which Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his wonderful book of the same name) of the people in the patio turned their heads in my direction, and began to smile, as I began to dance, with complete abandon.
Now when this happens, the gaze of the assembled multitude acts as a kind of highly flammable jet fuel to the exhibitionist in me. And as I continued dancing, the singer, who's seen me do this routine on the other three occasions I did it in the past month, said, when he'd finished the song he had been singing when I began to dance, "Well, well, well, I see we have at least one person who wants to dance tonight." He then smiled at me and held up his right hand, clenched his fingers to his palm, and raised his thumb straight up into the night air.
Soon, two blonde women, one taller than I, the other shorter, came over to me and started dancing with me and each other. Despite my personal Rule that I initiate no conversation with women I dance with at the Mezzo, because I'm just there to dance and have fun, not pick anyone up, the women clearly wanted to let me know that they're both married, with children, hail from Rhode Island, and their husbands were home taking care of the kids. They both were attractive women, well-nourished, and oriented times three (as is always said in hospital emergency room medical reports, as part of the notation about admittees' neurological status upon admission to the ER following auto accidents), with affect appropriate to women having a very good time, and slightly high from the beers they were holding and slugging.
The two women eventually squeezed between the singer's podium and a patio table which was touching the podium and blocking movement from the area where they first started dancing with me and the area right in front of the singer. To join them, I hopped up to the singer's level, high-fived him as I passed in front of him between songs, and jumped down to join the tow women. We grooved to a few more songs, when they were joined by their dark-haired girlfriend, who wanted her picture taken with me and the taller of the two married women dancers, me between the two of them, with their arms around my shoulders and back. The shorter blonde took the pic with the brunette's I-phone and then the blondes told the brunette to type my name into her i-Pod so they would be able to look up my Facebook page to locate the web link to Bob's blog, which they wanted to read, once I told them that I am a retired trial lawyer who writes something new, and, hopefully, edgy, every day, for whoever follows the blog. The brunette, said one of her blonde friends, especially wanted the picture to include my CAL logo on my tee shirt, because her boyfriend's name is Cal. They wondered if Cal was my name, and I realized they had never heard that another name for U Cal, Berkeley is CAL.
The blondes clearly liked me, perhaps under the influence of the beer they were drinking. I was drinking nothing, except some water which one of the girls sitting at the bachelorette pre-wedding party table, at the northernmost edge of the patio, brought be, after I'd mentioned to one of the blonde dancing mothers that I was thirsty and wondered if she knew how I could get some water. Like Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, the mere mention of my wish for water was followed by the blonde dancing mother into water, which gave me the liquid sustenance I needed to continue dancing.
At about 11 p.m., the singer said he would take a break and return. At that, I told my blonde dancing mothers that I wanted to "retire," if that's an appropriate word in the context of moving upstairs to dance, and sometimes, to be dirty-danced with, by twenty-something women, in the Mezzo disco, until 1:45 a.m, without a bathroom break or even a fatigue break. I told them they could join the fun if they wanted in the disco, but I never saw them again that evening, nor anytime since, to set the record straight.
This short story is already longer than I promised you, dear readers, so I'll stop, shortly. First, however, I need to explain the title of this little tale. What, you may have wondered, is the Dance Captain thing all about. Well, my becoming-my-good-friend-and-legal-colleague, John Porter aka JP aka JJ aka Jay, who happens to live across Chimney Hill from Susie and me, has been reading about, and hearing about, my adventures at the Mezzo, the grill and the disco. So JP says to me the other day, since nobody is dancing at the patio until you start it off, and then only some of them, why don't you get yourself a tee shirt with the following printed on it. On the front, "Dance Captain." On the back, "Follow My Lead." Interesting idea. I'm thinking about it. I also like the CAL tee shirt, as it gives me a pithy, memorable Brand Identifier for my dancing routine at the Mezzo outdoor patio and bar.
I'll have to defer an account of my adventures in the Mezzo upstairs disco until a future Bob's blog entry, perhaps even tomorrow morning.