Hope you’re smiling. Here’s this week’s episode of Queer Tango which I hope you enjoy and it makes you tango with a smile.
Episode 9: Ruby’s Plimsole
Argentine Tango was a bit too foreign for most of the class. It involved being closer to each other than most of the class allowed their spouses; involved kicking each other while trying to walk about at the same time, and Paulette had politely requested they didn’t make her mother faint when whoever was ‘pink’ had to slide down their partner’s leg ‘seductively.’
Lanie hadn’t been looking forward to this style of tango because she found it hard enough not to pass out when Miriam was in the same car let alone when she had her leg hooked on Lanie’s hip as Lanie tried to drag her backward along the floor without clattering into Tracy who was staggering back the other way with Tammy’s leg hooked around her knee—because she couldn’t lift it any further.
Stan wasn’t lifting his leg anywhere and it was hard to get any closer to Gaynor with her growing bump. He wasn’t sure it was the kind of behaviour he wanted to subject his unborn kid to or anyone else when he was in a frilly frock Andy had donated to him.
‘Honey, I’ve said this before but we are not those kinda friends,’ Mary-Lou mumbled and lifted Hedges’ head up from her cleavage.
‘I can’t help it, you’re taller than me, I don’t know where to stick my head.’ Hedges sighed, then glanced over at Mary-Lou’s daughter who was visiting and had a camera out. ‘I’m not doing a Trevor.’
‘Do not mention him,’ Glynnis muttered as Andy stumbled around the floor with her—not because he didn’t know the dance but because he was too busy staring off into space and mumbling to himself about something.
‘What’s he done then?’ Tammy said, hopping to help Tracy out. Her Colin was a big lug of bloke and he’d had to jump across the threshold clutching her hand when they gotten married.
‘He thinks he’s a gardener because my idiotic husband hired him to cut the grass so he wouldn’t have to,’ Glynnis deftly worked Andy around, half-leading, half-admiring his biceps. She’d have liked a husband with biceps or even a husband who used his arms for something other than golf, wine or the remote control.
Hedges winced both at Mary-Lou’s bra which was far too close and the thought of her hard planted grass being hacked down by Trevor.
‘Did he leave any grass?’ Paulette mumbled more to try and get Andy to snap out of his daze. He’d been in a daze since she mentioned her ex was popping into town.
‘Barely,’ Glynnis said and rolled her eyes mid-twirl. ‘He didn’t leave my mower though.’
‘He’s doing a Ricky, huh?’ Miriam said hoping that Lanie would stop deep breathing. It was off-putting knowing your own girlfriend nearly lost consciousness when you held her hand but Miriam was sure she wasn’t that sexy.
Tracy snorted. ‘Nah, he’d have to nick the wrong mower or a sheers because he couldn’t be bothered to break in properly.’
‘That’s the problem with Colin,’ Tammy said with a grunt, hopping as she did so. ‘When we was young, he was all passion and energy and he could jump a fence with one leap…’ She stopped and took a breather as Tracy shook off her numb hands from gripping on. ‘Now, he gets off the sofa to grab a can or two and he’s out of breath.’
Paulette nodded, not sure why the class needed to hop through every dance. ‘I’m sure Ricky can still climb over fences… especially when threatened.’
Tracy snorted. ‘Plimsoles will do that to a bloke.’
‘I think it’s unfair that you’re having a go at blokes,’ George said with a grunt as he attempted to drag Diane along the floor—Andy had been taking him to the gym so it was getting easier… but it was still harder than a guy liked to admit. ‘He might want to impress you and make you dinner but sometimes it’s hard when he has other responsibilities.’
‘That are more important… like bonding with other men,’ Diane muttered and glared at George, deliberately planting her weight to make it harder. He couldn’t manage to ask her out for dinner but he could ask Andy to go for a pint or wherever else they were going… daily.
‘In Colin’s case… beer,’ Tammy said with a chuckle. ‘But I earn a living out of beer so I just get nicer clothes.’
Tracy nodded, mid-breather, glad that she and Tammy had persuaded the manager of the Bumblebridge pub to let them take over running it.
‘Women bond all the time,’ George said and let go of Diane to gasp for air. He wanted to take Diane for a meal in the poshest restaurant in Bumblethorpe but that cost money and he spent most of his bailing out his sister.
‘Women bond while doing something useful… multi-tasking,’ Diane said and stomped over to Agnes who was brewing up the tea.
George put his hands on his hips.
‘This is your cue to head over and ask what’s wrong,’ Stan whispered, looking to Andy for support but he was tangoing Glynnis into the soft play.
‘But she’ll get grumpy,’ George mumbled.
‘Yeah, you ask what’s wrong and she tells you that you should know and if you don’t then you clearly don’t care enough about her.’ Stan shrugged as Gaynor scowled at him from her packet of crisps. It was hard tangoing with crisps between them. ‘Then she gets teary, you tell her you love her and give her flowers or something and she says you’re amazing.’
George scratched his beard. ‘Can I just give her flowers?’
‘Don’t you start,’ Hedges mumbled, glad to head over to the kettle. ‘I’m charging extra for poetry.’
‘Just take her out to dinner like you want to,’ Gaynor mumbled through a mouthful of marmite crisps.
‘It’s a lot of money.’ George said and grabbed Andy’s elbow before he walked into the table tennis table.
‘To treat a woman you pretend you love so much?’ Gaynor narrowed her eyes then beamed at Stan. ‘He would spend money on me. He loves me enough to pre-dip my crisps in marmite for me.’ She sobbed. He was amazing.
‘I do love her,’ George mumbled then scurried away before Gaynor took out more moods on his hair.
‘Take a break then,’ Paulette said with a sigh and folded her arms. She wasn’t in a great mood. Ricky had given her a replacement car that worked, yes, but then the police had come around and taken it away because it belonged to the detective chief inspector. Then, her ex had strolled into town saying he wanted to patch it up with her even when he was still engaged but the fiancé that ‘he’d loved for years’ was on tour. Then, Andy had been worse in rehearsal than George at turns… and she couldn’t think of a name for her part of their double act.
‘Do you think the community centre would let us have the wedding here?’ Ceri asked as she limped over to the tea table—she didn’t mind being close to Janis at all but she’d tripped over Tammy’s trailing leg and taken a boot to her ankle.
‘You want to get married in a community centre?’ Janis didn’t like that idea. She wanted to give Ceri her dream wedding. Trevor hadn’t allowed it but Ceri had always wanted to get married on a riverboat and have a first dance on the deck.
‘I got married in an open prison,’ Tammy said then grabbed three biscuits and munched them—she’d lost half a stone and her temper enough that Colin had taken to calling her Gaynor.
‘And I was handcuffed to her,’ Tracy said then gulped at her tea—it was thirsty work even if Tammy lost half a stone, dragging her around had seen Tracy put on three stone of muscle and Ricky had taken to calling her Andy.
‘I think Ricky could help Paulette get married,’ Agnes said with a strange tone, the kind that Paulette often heard growing up before being sent out of the room to do homework.
‘Aunty Agnes,’ Tracy said, recognising the tone as one Ricky used when he had ‘ideas’ which usually saw him being acquainted with more handcuffs. ‘I don’t think Andy likes girls.’
‘He is fluid.’ Agnes smiled over at Andy who was being given a team talk by George and Stan over something. ‘I’ve no idea what that means but his father says he loves Paulette’s cheesecake.’ She ushered Tracy in closer and tried not to breathe in stale nicotine. ‘I need him to have a quiet word with the boy who used to court Paulette.’
Tracy raised her eyebrows. ‘Ricky hides behind me when you mention Paulette.’
‘So… I thought you might like to see my… um… bicycle pump… yeah… my bicycle pump,’ Lanie said hearing herself talk rubbish then mumble as Miriam eyed her with a mixture of confusion and mirth. ‘It’s got the adaptor in the top.’
Miriam cocked her head. Neal had once asked her if he wanted to see his bicycle pump but he’d never owned a bicycle and she’d teased him about it for months.
‘It fits on any wheel the label says…’ Lanie shrugged. She’d been trying to work up to kissing—yes, really kissing—Miriam but she hadn’t ever kissed someone she actually fancied before and it was so much harder than kissing people who weren’t really that nice. She just got faint then trembly and needed to walk off. Her dad was the same, even after thirty odd years of marriage, he still couldn’t kiss her mum without needing his inhaler.
‘I’d rather just stay around yours,’ Miriam said then kissed Lanie because she was cute and she’d had a conversation with Lanie’s mother.
Lanie spluttered out a breath… then grinned… then sat down before her vision blanked.
‘Why’s Lanie hyperventilating again?’ Glynnis mumbled to Gaynor who had a baby scan picture in her hand. ‘Is she well?’
‘Girl love,’ Stan said with a doting smile at the weird blob on the picture. Neither him nor Gaynor could make out a baby and they were both agreed it just looked weird but all the other couples had bought a picture so they did.
‘Girl love?’ Glynnis asked, glad she didn’t have baby scan pictures of Trevor. It was bad enough people knew he was related to her as it was.
‘Yeah, I was sick everytime I took Gaynor out,’ Stan said with a grin and tapped the picture. ‘Now she’s being sick every morning.’
Gaynor nodded. ‘Then I fancy crisps so I’m good.’
‘I documented every step of my daughter’s development,’ Mary-Lou said and ruffled her daughter’s hair only to get a scowl back. ‘We had her baby feet in a mould.’
‘So, Mom can bribe me with it,’ her daughter said back then went back to her vlog entitled Mom Bonding with Brits.
‘I have a picture like that. It’s of when he was five and wearing my shoes and a washing-up bowl,’ Hedges said, not sure what a vlog was but it sounded like a dance move and Mary-Lou tended to throw in new moves which involved being upside down a lot and Hedges’ hair didn’t like being squashed. ‘I use it to make my son go and work for Stan or I’ll show it to the girl he fancies.’
‘I wore my mum’s shoes,’ Andy mumbled then chewed on his lip as George tried to calm him—how could he compete with a proper actor who could just dance off with Ruby’s true love and take her plimsoles with him? ‘Still do.’
‘That’s nice,’ Hedges said, hoping she sounded jolly and not at all bothered that Trevor had decided he was a gardener, was going into competition against her and was undercutting her fees. It was bad enough she spent most of her day running around Bumblethorpe reciting poetry to women with flowers.
‘Oh, don’t be bothered by Trevor,’ Glynnis said, seeing the frown on Hedges’ face and knowing that only Trevor caused that much irritation. ‘He doesn’t even know what wild grasses are.’
‘Or hard work,’ Ceri chimed and nibbled on her biscuit while limping on the spot, squeezing Janis’ hand, and polishing the table with one move. ‘When his back starts hurting, he’ll quit.’
‘I have backache,’ Gaynor said with a groan. ‘And swollen feet… and Stan has swollen hands because it keeps kicking me.’
‘Who does?’ Glynnis asked mid dunk of biscuit à la tea.
‘The baby,’ Stan said showing his hand with a proud smile. ‘Makes her jump.’
‘Maybe they are dancing,’ Glynnis said with a chuckle.
‘At least someone in class is,’ Paulette muttered and thwacked her plimsole to her palm. ‘Mum, they don’t need more tea… they need practice… a lot of practice.’
Although Andy didn’t but for some reason he wasn’t dancing like she knew he could and that worried her. Maybe it was too much pressure to dance with her? Maybe her mother had put him off the cheesecake? Maybe she really needed to ask herself why she was so bothered and why she’d ‘borrowed’ his t-shirt and was wearing it because it smelled nice.
Diane looked Andy up and down then George. ‘I would like to practice but Ruby keeps stealing my partner.’
‘I was hammered and it was dark,’ George muttered then sighed. ‘You like roses?’
Diane folded her arms and then stomped off.
George looked at Stan who gave him a sympathetic smile. ‘You have to follow and ask what’s wrong. It’s a process… like frying.’
George rolled his eyes and stomped off after Diane.
‘I went to see Ruby,’ Janis said to Ceri and placed ice on her ankle for her. ‘She handles a feather duster well.’
‘Do I need to yell at Ruby for stealing my dance partner too?’ Ceri said with a wink at Andy who stared on and continued chewing his lip.
‘Nope, she don’t fit your marigolds… nobody does.’ Janis stood up and downed her tea. ‘We dancing?’
Ceri gazed up at her. ‘I don’t care where I get married as long as you show up and you’re smiling.’
Janis shrugged, trying not to show her knees were as wobbly as Lanie’s and met Lanie’s gaze. Yep, she knew feeling faint alright. Girl love, that’s what Stan had said and he was right. Same as he was right about the quickest way to undo a light fitting.
‘Are they having a parade?’ Agnes asked Paulette while giving Tracy and extra biscuit to get Ricky’s help. ‘Mavis said they’re having a parade and if they are having a parade, I need to start baking.’
‘We aren’t having a parade,’ Hedges said with a grunt. ‘I told Mavis that Barney asked me to recite the poem to Mary-Lou and she wasn’t saying she loved my snapback or anything.’
‘We’re not those kinda friends,’ Mary-Lou said with a wink then smirked at Hedges. ‘But Barney and I sure are.’
‘Hey,’ Gaynor said and caught Janis as she strode by.
‘You need something fixed?’ Janis eyed her.
Gaynor chomped on her crisps. She loved the little bits at the bottom of the pack and emptied it into her mouth.
Janis waited and checked her beard in case Gaynor could covertly snip hair.
‘I got you my brother’s number,’ Gaynor said, through crisps. ‘He said that he has a great package for you in your price range.’
Janis glanced over at Ceri who was limping around the room, polishing the pictures. ‘You think he can find a boat?’
Gaynor nodded. ‘He owns one.’
Janis grabbed the paper, kissed Gaynor on the cheek and hurried out.
Ceri put her hands on her hips. ‘We need to be in the same room to tango.’
‘That was really nice,’ Stan said and handed Gaynor another packet of crisps. ‘You’re not normally nice.’
‘No, but she once leant me an umbrella to save my hair frizzing.’ Gaynor added more marmite. ‘And you know how much I hate it when it frizzes.’
He did. She got more moody. Scary.
‘And Ceri got me the job in Diane’s,’ Gaynor said with a wistful smile. ‘My dream career.’
Ceri nodded. ‘It was a pleasure. I had to give up the shop anyway because Trevor didn’t think women should work.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘But then he realised that if I didn’t work, he had to… so he changed his tune pretty quickly.’
‘Are we doing any dancing today or just discussing personal issues?’ Paulette perched on the table next to her CD player. She still couldn’t find the power lead but it helped everyone think she was actually teaching people.
‘My mum stayed at home until I could go to school,’ Andy said then wandered over to Ceri and took her in hold. ‘Then she followed me to school as a dinner lady.’
Glynnis headed over and took Andy from Ceri and placed him into hold. ‘I had to go to work because my husband is a buffoon… and Trevor isn’t really someone anyone should listen to.’
Ceri nodded and chuckled at Andy who was trying to waltz without moving. ‘I know that now.’
‘Stay-at-home-mom’s are important,’ Mary-Lou said to her daughter and the camera. ‘I took my kids with me to work instead.’
Her daughter nodded. She’d had therapy for it.
‘I stay at other people’s homes and cut their lawns… does that work?’ Hedges said then fell over Andy’s foot and headbutted Mary-Lou’s boobs and her snapback fell off.
‘Stan can stay at home. I need to cut hair.’ Gaynor stepped over Andy’s foot, Hedges’ snapback and perched her marmite in the tool belt sash on Stan’s shoulder.
‘She gets moodier when she doesn’t cut hair,’ Stan said then nodded then shuddered.
‘Can I just make you dinner at mine?’ George asked as Diane had glared at him about flowers and chocolates.
‘I’d love that.’ Diane kissed him clean on the lips. ‘You’re amazing.’
Stan gave him a thumbs up. ‘Process.’
Janis hurried back in and kissed Gaynor on the cheek again. ‘Thank you.’
Ceri put her hands and marigolds on her hips. ‘Oi.’
‘He’s given me the whole package… for a tenner.’ Janis rubbed at her beard. ‘I’m sure wedding packages should cost more than that.’
Glynnis winked at Gaynor and tapped her nose, then tapped Andy on the cheek. ‘You need to lead, dear.’
‘Even Ricky can’t get you a riverboat wedding for a tenner,’ Tracy said with a smirk. ‘
‘What wedding package?’ Ceri said then grinned as Gaynor gave her an innocent look mid-crisp chomp.
Janis cleared her throat. ‘For Ruby… you know… and um… Paulette.’
Ceri narrowed her eyes.
‘She’s going to leave me for some greasy actor,’ Andy blurted then hung his head. ‘I don’t even like cheesecake but I ate it… and now she’s leaving Ruby and I alone… and I can’t bear to be without her plimsoles.’
Paulette glared over at Agnes who shrugged—she might have tried to hurry Andy along by telling him Paulette’s ex had proposed.
‘He wanted to have an affair with me while she was away because he was bored.’ Paulette waved her hand around. ‘He said that I could get back into the theatre scene as a choreographer and he’d get me into the best dance companies.’
The class turned in shock and Lanie fainted—Miriam was holding her hand.
‘You’re leaving?’ Diane put her hands to her mouth.
‘You all care that much?’ Paulette cocked her head. They couldn’t dance but she was really quite fond of them.
‘Yes,’ Stan said. ‘You need a poem?’
Hedges stuck on her snapback. ‘I can do a poem.’
Paulette held up her hands. ‘I beat him with my plimsole.’ She smiled at Andy who stared back. ‘I’m not traipsing ‘round after some Trevor. Unlike everyone else here, I prefer Ruby’s feather dusters.’
Andy whooped then threw in a Liza tap step.
‘And I have the perfect name for my half of our double act,’ she said and placed her top hat on her head and slid through a full Liza routine and did some jazz hands for Lanie to revive her. ‘I think Ruby’s true love should be Plimsole.’
Andy fainted next to Lanie and smiled. Yes, Ruby had found her true Plimsole.