Last night I danced at Rookies Sports Bar and Grill in Cromwell, Connecticut. It's in the K-Mart shopping plaza on Route 3. Rookies is located where Anong Becker had her first of many Thai restaurants, although Rookies took over two or three times the space which Anong had at that first restaurant of hers.
My friend Mark Gagner is the DJ at Rookies on Thursday and Saturday nights. I got to know Mark when he and his friend Dean used to DJ at Mezzo's patio in Middletown. Last summer, I got my dancing start at Mezzo's. My blog story about that night, July 16, 2010 is easy to find if you want to read it. Just look down the right side of the blog and click on The most popular story on "Bobs blog," the one with the photo of the four young Goddesses in their short, hot dancing dresses. Gretchen Scranton, the girl in the little black dress with the red belt is the Goddess who had the big female cohones that evening, and a very secure boyfriend, Evan Douglas. Gretchen saw me dancing, disregarded the gigantic age difference between us, danced with me, and thereby opened my eyes to the fact that I could actually go dancing, all by myself, in a young peoples' dance club, and have a great time.
So over the summer and into the early fall of 2010, I danced to Mark and Dean's DJ's electronic music mixes in the Mezzo patio on Thursday evenings. I got to know their girlfriends, who occasionally danced with me. Mark's girlfriend, Adriana, is the mother of their two beautiful little daughters. One night in September, Adriana's mother, Mariella Pulino, and father, Franco Pulino, and their friend, Cynthia Rojas, were up in the Mezzo disco, and Mariella and Cynthia began dancing with me. Franco did too, by moving his body and my encouraging him to keep going, which, being a great sport and a terrific guy, he did. We had a blast dancing together, all three of us. Mariella and Cynthia are both young Goddesses, but they are slightly more "age appropriate" for me, at my advanced stage of life. At one point, Mariella said to me, "Look, there are some young women you can dance with." I declined and yelled to her, over the din of the DJ's loud music, "Nope, I wanna dance with the three of you." Later, on Facebook, I learned that Mariella and Franco are the parents of Adriana and, in effect, though not yet in law, the parents-in-law of Mark Gagner. These are the kinds of connections which FB alone makes it far easier to discern.
I was somewhat concerned last night, because of the snow which was falling and making the back roads slick, that Rookies would be relatively empty. But once I turned onto Route 9 north and saw that the State DOT guys and gals had cleared the snow and left the highway merely wet, I thought to myself that people wanting a good time would not be deterred from making the trip to drink and eat, but mostly drink, at a nice sports bar like Rookies. My hunch was right. The place was PACKED with young people.
Rookies is in a non-descript strip mall. It doesn't even have a proper sign. There is a large plastic banner hanging high above the front glass doors, which can only be read during the daytime since it's not illuminated at night. But the people who patronize such places know exactly where they are, the way honey bees can find the home nest after their forays miles away to find nectar and polinate the farmers' crops. In a somewhat similar way, a sports bar like Rookies is filled with Goddesses and Mere Mortal Young Men who are mostly engaged in a kind of mating ritual involving lookin' good and buzzin' around the bar to find a hot partner with whom to dance the mating dance.
Now those mating dances don't involve the kind of dancing I do in dance clubs, which I did last night at Rookies. When I arrived, there were people playing pool on the tables in front of the DJ stand, where Mark Gagner was spinning "the 1s and the 2s," as they say in dance club slang, whatever that expression means. As you enter Rookies, the left 1/4 of the large room has a dark linoleum-covered floor. Then, in the middle 1/2, which you gain access to by means of two, two-step stairs, or a handicapped-accessible ramp, there is a blonde wood floor. In the front 1/2 of the main floor there are high tables with stools. In the rear 1/2 there is a very large, square-shaped bar, with stools around the perimeter. I couldn't see the last 1/4 of Rookies from the DJ area or that part of the large center area because the bouncers were concerned if I didn't confine my dancing mostly to the DJ area with the pool tables, I might be clocked by some guy thinking I was trying to pick up or dance with his Goddess. I assured the bouncer named Zack that such behavior is not in my repertoire and eventually he confirmed by observation that I was being truthful. By then, I had greater freedom to dance both in the DJ 1/4 of the bar and in the large center 1/2 with the tables and main bar.
All around the inside perimeter of Rookies are flat screen TVs. The TVs are tuned to different sports stations. Tennis, football, basketball. By the time I arrived, around 10:15 p.m., UConn women's game was over (they won, I think; my wife was watching the game when I stopped by her house earlier that evening, after finishing my meditation group at Starr Mill in Middletown; Susie's a BIG sports fan and loves to watch her Packers, her Celtics, her Patriots, her UConn mens' and womens' teams; I love to PLAY sports but I'm NOT a big sports WATCHER. I sometimes kid her, get under her skin, by saying, "Those who can play sports, play sports. Those who can't, just watch." I know that's not really true, but in her and my case, it's totally true.)
Most of the TVs in Rookies were tuned to basketball games. I've developed a dance at Titanium which people there call "Bob's basketball dance." I pretend to bounce a basketball to the rhythm of the disco music beat, taking imaginary foul shots, three-pointers, lay-ups, jump shots, and the like. I often ask men, especially those who are much bigger and stronger than I, to "give me some body," so I can pretend to post-up, spin away, and lay the imaginary basketball in the hoop. I'll also take an occasional imaginary hook shot.
It's easy for the "audience" to figure out immediately what I'm doing, and they all love it, point at me, and frequently try to do the basketball dance moves themselves.
Last night at Rookies, I was wearing black corduroy pants, my black dancing shoes, the ones with the thick, spongy soles, and a gray-striped dress shirt over my "I LOVE [with a red heart in lieu of the actual word] boobies" tee-shirt. I bought this months ago at Bob's Stores on East Main Street in Middletown, for $27 dollars. It was so expensive because a large part of the proceeds from the sale of the tee-shirt went to the American Cancer Society's Breast Cancer Research Fund. Because all women, and many men, in the dance clubs know about this tee-shirt and the logo, and the legitimate breast cancer research fund it's related to, everybody loves the tee-shirt. Men love it because American men love boobies, and women love the fact a dancer and entertainer is essentially part of a national campaign to try to find a cure for a disease which women dread to think they might someday get.
Rookies closes at 1 a.m. on Thursday. Until about 11:45 p.m., few people, of all the several hundred who were at Rookies last night, danced with me or near me. But Dionysius, the god of dancing, of ecstasy, of alcoholic intoxication eventually has his way with a lot of the people who patronize these dance clubs where I perform. I can see how active the god is by how much people are turning to look at me dancing so freely, all by myself, on the dance floor, by how much they're talking about me amongst themselves, by how much they're unable to help themselves from moving, swaying to the beat, yearning, even aching, to join the dance with this Mere Mortal Old Crazy Dancin' Dude.
Several women came up to me and insisted I was on LSD, Ecstasy, Pot, or some other artificial stimulant. When they didn't believe me that I was "on" nothing, just high on life and performing for an audience, and, well, just dancing, I asked some of the guys I know from Mezzo's and Titanium to set the record straight for these people. My dancing is so free, so full of ecstasy, so lively, that people who don't know what I'm all about simply can't imagine themselves doing what I'm doing without artificial stimulation.
A large part of peoples' reserve in these clubs is youth, a desire to "look good," and a lack of self-confidence to dance without giving a hoot about what people think of you. As I told my philosopher friend, Brian Fay, this morning, I doubt I'd have the self-confidence to do what I'm doing in these dance clubs, full of young people who don't know me at first, if I hadn't had an excellent philosophical education at a first-rate university like Wesleyan AND if I hadn't preceded this "second-career" with a very successful first-career as a trial lawyer for 35 years before my retirement last March. I'll explain that claim more fully in a later "Bobs blog" post.
By 11:45 p.m., several women and men were willing to put their toes in the dance waters and dance with me, or at least make a quick stab at it before leaving Rookies or returning to the safety of their tables. In the next hour and a quarter, Dionysius was in full-on active mode. The god eventually took over, possessed, the bodies of a group of 5 young Goddesses playing pool with one of their hunky young boyfriends, and a group of 6 young studs and three hot young Goddesses, a little older, at the pool table closest to the DJ. Two of the Mere Mortal Young Men in the second group put two, one dollar bills down on the edge of the pool table, wanting me to take the bills for my performance. Instead, I took out my bills from my left pocket, folded one of the dollar bills length-wise in half, the way the young men had, and added my offering to Dionysius to their two dollar bills. I also went over to one of the young men and told him I'd made plenty of money as a lawyer and had no interest in taking his or his friend's money. I don't know what happened to the dollar I put down on the edge of the pool table, but I can only assume that at some point, the god Dionysuius took it and put it in his jock strap.
By 12:30 p.m., a slightly older Hispanic-looking Goddess was enthusiastically dirty-dancing with me. The crowd, and I, loved every minute of this. At the height of the frenzy, about 12:45 p.m., just before closing, I'd asked Mark Gagner to play the dance club hit, "I've got the moves like Jagger." Once I heard the opening bars of that song, I stopped dancing with whatever Goddess was dancing with me. I said, "This is my theme song. Gotta dance to it." The refrain lyric is, "You want to move like Jagger, I got the moves like Jagger." This is my prompt to use the dance floor like Jagger uses the long runway at Wembley Stadium or wherever else the Stones are putting on THEIR show. I skip from one end of the dance floor to the other. I put my left hand on my hip, outstretch my right arm, and move quickly up and down the dance floor. I look at the people taking movies or photos on their I-Phones, shake my head and stick out my tongue, the way Jagger does, and mug for the camera. I put my hand on my ass, grab my ass, then take the other hand, remove the ass-hand from my ass, pull the ass-hand vigorously in front of me and make a motion with my left index finger going back and forth across the outstretched index finger of my right hand, as if to say, "Shame on you, hand, for grabbing Bob's ass." This always gets the crowd worked up, smiling and laughing.
After I stayed to go along with the people who wanted me to have my picture taken with their group of friends, and said goodnight to some of the people I know from Mezzo's or Titanium, I pushed open the glass doors at the front of the bar, and left Rookies. As I walked from the covered sidewalk right outside the doors onto the snow-covered parking lot, the people standing outside, smoking, said "Goodnight, man." I acknowledged them and then walked, in my sweat-drenched "I love boobies" tee-shirt, holding my gray-striped dress shirt and black Nike exercise jacket, back to my 1998 maroon Subaru Outback Wagon, with 166,000 miles on it.
As I waited at the red traffic light at the intersection of Route 3 South and Route 372, to turn left to get back to Route 9 South, there was a gray sedan to my right, waiting to continue south on Route 3. I could tell even through my moisture-covered passenger side window that the sedan was filled with four Goddesses. I happened to be listening to WTIC FM. And it also just happened that my "Jagger" theme song was playing, so I rolled down the passenger window, and the driver rolled down her window. I turned down the volume, yelled over at the Goddesses "This is my theme song," turned back up the volume as high as I could, and did an arm and body dance right there in my driver's seat, for their amusement. Of course, I could tell from their screams and laughter that they loved the continuing performance.
I drove south on Route 9, got off at the South Main Street exit, and stopped at the red light at South Main Street, waiting to turn left. There was another gray car to my left. The young Mere Mortal Man who was driving was looking over at me. I rolled down my window and he rolled down his. He said, "I just saw you at Rookies!" I smiled, turned up the music to "We fell in love in a hopeless world," and continued the car dancing, to his amused smiles. After turning left, I accelerated, turned right at Warwick Street, then left on High Street, a quick right up Bretton Road, then left at the stop sign at Jacobs Terrace, and straight past the island into Chimney Hill and the quiet of our old house, where I'm now living. After changing out of my sweaty clothes, I ate several helpings of double chocolate Stop and Shop brand gelato, a good part of a tub of Tribe Cracked Chili Pepper hummus with hot chili-flavored Triscuit thin crackers, brushed my teeth, petted Russell the Cool Black Cat, got in my sleeping bag on my Wenzel sleeping mat, pulled the blue duvet with white stripes, which Susie gave me the other day, up over my head to get warm in the 60 degree temperature at which I keep the old house, to save on oil expense, and went to sleep. The time was 2:45 a.m. When Russell the Cool Black Cat woke me up with his insistent desire to be stroked and petted, I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. I was so happy that I'd had the Rookies Experience the night before. And so happy I had not yielded, back in the Fall of 2010, to my concious mind's wish that I take a gun, if I'd had one, go into the back yard, put the barrel in my mouth, pull the trigger, and end of the intense, nearly-unbearable pain of my suicidal depression.
This morning, as the sun came up, I thanked God for giving me another day, today, for making my limbs work, my mind function. I had nothing to do with making all this possible. Well, maybe one thing. I was smart enough to never have a gun around the house. Never have, never will.