Queer Tango

Episode 10: Icing On The Cake

Hey there,

I hope you’re having a lovely week. I’ve been battling medical issues but I’ve created episode 10- Icing On The Cake for you to enjoy. As always, please forgive typos and keep in mind that it’s meant to have a TV sketch show feel. I hope it makes you waltz into a chuckle and twirls you with a smile!

Big Smiles,

Jody

Queer Tango

Episode 10: Icing On The Cake

When Paulette had decided to run her dance classes, it was a way to earn some much needed money; do something other than brood about her ankle, soured relationship and lost career, and her mother had said it would be a way to get to know the people of Bumblethorpe. She hadn’t expected her mother’s hometown to be so filled with energy and the kind of eccentric people that others usually avoided in cities but were fast becoming people she liked.

As the class fumbled their way through a waltz and she nursed her throbbing ankle—it was chucking it down, freezing, and there were gale force winds—she smiled to herself unsure why she was so delighted that George, even while in a major pout, was leading far better than ever before. To professionals, he was an eyesore: he planted his feet like he had flippers on, grabbed Diane like he was trying to stop himself falling over, and kept clipping the back of his own leg with his trailing foot but, to her, he hadn’t flattened anyone, had stopped grimacing as much, not to mention that he was so busy ignoring Diane that he was actually concentrating on the steps… oh, correct that… he’d taken out Lanie’s leg on the way past.

‘Sorry,’ George muttered then resumed sticking his nose in the air.

‘It’s okay,’ Lanie managed with a wince.

Now, she was one of Paulette’s more promising dancers because she had rhythm and moved lightly on her feet even if she was wearing a huge bicycle helmet and mumbling under her breath.

‘Did you go to the meeting?’ Miriam muttered and staccato stepped Lanie through a turn and threw herself into an Argentine Tango embrace.

‘Um… in work?’ Lanie said, puffing out her cheeks. It was hard enough dancing with someone she fancied so much let alone when Miriam kept changing the dance to something more sultry.

‘Yes.’ Miriam narrowed her eyes and stuck out her foot so George stumbled over it—He’d given her bruises every week and she wasn’t even dancing with him. ‘Barney called a management meeting and we’re all really worried he’s selling.’

Lanie glanced over at Mary-Lou—you know, the boss—and sighed. ‘He doesn’t want to sell,’ she whispered hoping she didn’t get fired. ‘He wanted to expand.’

‘Oh.’ Miriam poked out her tongue at Diane as she had to right George before he hit Andy and took out Agnes’ biscuit selection.

‘It’s hard enough without you adding to it,’ Diane muttered back.

Paulette didn’t think Diane was that bad when she started off on the right foot but anyone dancing with George would find it hard.

‘I’ve got multicoloured legs,’ Miriam said then poked out her tongue at George for good measure. ‘How aren’t you limping?’

Diane lifted her dress to show shin pads. ‘My eldest son came to the rescue.’

George grunted—he liked the boy but coming home and being sick all over the carpet when George was so close to making his move was… well… he wasn’t getting extra chips that was for certain.  

‘He’s my son,’ Diane said with a glare because she wasn’t sure why George was so angry for someone being ill. ‘Best you remember that.’

George grunted again.

Miriam twisted around Lanie and performed a stepover, then leg flick and twirl before wrapping her leg around Lanie’s waist.

‘Are you mad at me?’ Lanie gripped onto her helmet as she tried for a waltz step and Miriam stuck out her hand as though going for a lift.

‘No.’ Miriam nodded to George with his nostrils on show. ‘I’d be showing nostril hair if I was.’

‘Risky,’ Stan said with a chuckle and stumbled over his high-heels—Andy had leant some to him but he wasn’t good in heels. ‘Showing that amount of hair around Gaynor will see her pull out the clippers.’

Gaynor nodded, mid chomp on crisps. ‘It will, nostril hair is gross.’

George stuck his nose in his shirt. ‘Back off or I’ll stop making marmite covered chips for you.’

‘She’s a pregnant woman,’ Diane said and tapped him on the cheek with her boa. ‘How could you?’

Gaynor gazed up at Stan. ‘You wouldn’t let him do that, would you?’

Stan shook his head. ‘If he stops making you them, I’ll print the pictures Andy has of him and Ruby.’

‘And we know he loves Ruby.’ Andy chuckled, in full graceful flow, easing Glynnis around with complete mastery—Paulette wasn’t swayed by his smile or his ability to sing, dance, recite proper poetry, take her to the theatre, treat her to expensive meals, go shopping with her, love her wardrobe as much as she did and share his as freely. No, she was a professional.

  ‘It was dark and I was hammered,’ George snapped then waltzed Diane in a crazed zigzag over to Stan. ‘You have pictures?’

‘Ricky took them.’ Stan tapped his nose as Gaynor paused, mid-step, to open a new packet of crisps.

‘My Ricky knows his market.’ Tracy cackled as she and Tammy bounced their way around the floor not truly waltzing but not truly tangoing either. It was just a mash of random steps flung together and topped off with Tracy’s tag getting magnetically stuck on Tammy’s huge golden ankle bracelet so every other step, Tammy’s foot jerked outwards as though she was trying to shake off her leg.

‘Ricky better be giving me a cut if he’s selling Ruby merchandise.’ Paulette didn’t really know how to assess Tammy and Tracy but she loved them, oddly, in spite of common sense.

‘Andy said he could though,’ Tracy said mid-chew on Nicorette.

Andy twirled Glynnis and flopped her expertly over one arm. ‘But Ruby is a young impressionable woman who was led astray by an older man.’

Paulette averted her gaze—Plimsole couldn’t help it when Ruby flashed her wig that way.

‘He meant George,’ Tammy said with a snigger, one eye on the biscuits all laid out on the table. ‘But that guilty look is worth taking a picture of.’

Tracy nodded and did a strange version of jazz hands that looked like someone was electrifying her. ‘Bah, bum, bah, bum, bah, bum, bah alright.’

‘Ruby did like the flowers,’ Hedges said with a wink at Agnes who winked back through steamed glasses. ‘And I love that t-shirt.’

Glynnis righted herself and showed off her new creation—seamstress skills were now fashion skills. ‘Poetry is a perfectly pruned hedge.’

‘You’re going against your own son?’ Mary-Lou thought the t-shirt was neat and might have ordered enough for the whole of her workforce.

Paulette perched on the safety mats. Trevor had decided to ‘do a Trevor’ and launch his own gardening business and undercut Hedges. Paulette didn’t get why because that involved listening.

‘I’ll have you know that I was in labour for thirty-five hours with him, I poured every resource into ensuring he was a gentleman and he went to all the right schools and he’s still like his father.’ Glynnis sighed then tapped her t-shirt. ‘I was horrified when he left his wife, his children, when he quit his career but I tried to support him… then he ran off with Barry, then he left him… but trying to undercut my gardener is a step too far.’

Hedges blushed and fanned herself with her snapback—Glynnis did love the way she arranged the lavender and jasmine plants to smell nice day or evening.

‘You got it,’ Mary-Lou said with a whoop. ‘We’re with you, honey.’

Paulette flashed her own t-shirt. She didn’t really know Trevor but he’d taken to sending Ruby love letters. ‘Why do they say “Steps for Step-gran” on the back?’

‘He’s trying to take the kids off me,’ Ceri said, not really waltzing much because it was hard while looking through wedding brochures. ‘The girls are doing it as a campaign to back Janis’ Mum because Trevor told the authorities that Janis’ Mum is a criminal who is planning to make them work in a sweatshop.’

‘He’s got a cheek.’ Janis wasn’t really waltzing either because it was hard reading a wedding brochure upside-down.

‘Sweatshop?’ Mary-Lou looked to Hedges.

‘A place when you don’t get paid a fair wage,’ Hedges said trying to think of something that would translate properly.

‘Yeah, like in prison,’ Tammy said and nodded to Tracy. ‘You work hard for years… slogging away… and they just let you go.’

Paulette picked up her catalogue and started to flick through it—the class never slogged away at dancing.

Tracy snorted. ‘If you’re lucky, you leave with a qualification but then what use is an NVQ in sock sewing when you’re an upstanding criminal.’

Mary-Lou frowned.

‘It’s like a high-school qualification, I think,’ Hedges said, not knowing there was an NVQ in sock sewing but she’d have preferred doing that over home economics in school.    

   ‘I was kinda frowning at the prison bit,’ Mary-Lou said and wondered if she should have hired Ricky as a delivery driver. ‘So, your mom is trying to send them to prison?’

‘No,’ Janis said and mistimed her step at the prices on the brochure and clattered into George who caught Miriam in the shin. ‘She said she’d teach them knitting.’

Miriam rubbed at her shin then shoved George back at Diane.

‘They want to learn how to knit… and sew… they love talking about how their grandmother must have worked really hard to sew all those sofas together.’ Ceri righted Janis with one hand and flicked over the page with the other.

‘They meant me?’ Glynnis stopped and let go of Andy who smacked into George and sent him flying into the soft play. ‘My own children don’t like me.’

‘The girls do,’ Janis said with a smile.

‘They love it when they see you,’ Ceri said and beamed up at Janis who was still attempting to waltz even while fixing the soft play mats as George stumbled to his feet.

Glynnis dabbed at her eyes with her t-shirt and Mary-Lou patted her on the back. ‘Guess the good genes just hopped a step.’

Paulette flicked over the page in her catalogue—her class liked to hop during every step she showed them… unless they were having tea or gossiping when should be dancing.

Glynnis gave a wistful sigh. ‘I used to take old chairs from the shop my father wanted to be rid of and turn them into bespoke pieces.’

‘I have one of those chairs,’ Hedges said then pointed to her t-shirt which said ‘hot momma’ on it.

‘You think Glynnis is a hot momma?’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle then gave her best ‘you got it,’ nod.

‘No, we’re not those kind of friends.’ Hedges waved it off and pointed to her t-shirt again. ‘But I wanted the excuse to show that my husband bought me this.’

‘See, if I tried that, I’d have to sleep in the garage,’ Stan said then wiped excess marmite off his toolbelt.

Paulette ignored the cheeky smile from Andy whose room was in his parent’s garage. Not that she had visited his home or had dinner there.

Gaynor thumbed to her baby bump then poked Stan in the shoulder. ‘You’ve caused enough trouble.’

Stan kissed her on the marmite covered lips and held onto his wig to stop it flopping off. ‘I like causing trouble.’

‘You won’t when I start whining that I can’t see my feet,’ Gaynor peered down then sighed. ‘I can’t see my feet.’

‘I couldn’t see mine either,’ Ceri added, cleaning her brochure with her shoulder-duster. ‘But I was sure they hadn’t been that veiny before.’

‘Your feet are perfect,’ Janis said, fixing the seesaw George had clattered over—he’d caught Miriam’s shin again. ‘But I don’t get why they are so cold when you stick them on my calves in bed.’

‘I wear pop socks in bed.’ Mary-Lou let go of Hedges who twirled into George who bumped into Lanie. ‘And Agnes sure helped me out with that bedspread she knitted.’

Agnes saluted mid kettle watch and Paulette flicked to the footwear section ignoring Andy plonking down next to her and ‘ooh-ing’ at a pair of strappy sandals.

‘I stick my feet on Colin’s calves and he squeals,’ Tammy said then nicked a biscuit on her waltz past the table. ‘I tell him he sounds like Ruby.’

‘My Ricky pretends he can take a cold foot,’ Tracy said and stuck a new slab of gum in her mouth. ‘He says it shows how much of a bloke he is…’ She rolled her eyes. ‘Then his legs get all pimpled and his hairs stick up.’

Gaynor made a buzzing sound.

‘I’m not shaving my legs,’ Stan said and swiped his finger through the air. ‘I might do poetry and flower arranging and dancing in a wig and heels but a man has to know where to stop.’

Andy raised an eyebrow. ‘I wax personally.’

‘You wax better than I do,’ Paulette mumbled and then tried to ignore the fact that Andy waxed his chest and face too.

‘Yeah, but you can pull off lipstick,’ Stan said with a hearty grunt. ‘I’d look bonkers in lipstick.’

Gaynor nodded. ‘We’d have to get you a hot momma top.’

Andy sighed. ‘Stan, I expected more of you.’

Stan hung his head. ‘I like my hairy legs… Gaynor’s feet are freezing.’

‘I’m not sure if mine are cold,’ Hedges said and flashed her top once more. ‘But I my husband sleeps with ear plugs in because he says I snore louder than the strimmer.’

Miriam paused, ready to shove George into the soft play again. ‘I don’t really know if I snore.’

‘I didn’t notice,’ Lanie mumbled then clamped her mouth shut.

Tracy stuck her fingers in her mouth and whistled louder than the kettle. ‘Only taken you… what… since school… try not to rush it.’

‘Don’t you start,’ Miriam said then slunk over to the biscuits. ‘Do you know how embarrassing it is to be dragged home by the ear by your mother in your thirties.’ She shook her head trying to avoid Lanie’s gaze. ‘I had a lecture on being an unmarried mother and then when I explained it was Lanie’s house, mum lectured me on the fact that Ceri and Janis could get married, so why was I letting the side down.’

Tracy sucked in a breath. ‘I’d have had no ears left when I left school if my mum had been like that.’

‘Ricky don’t need to know that though.’ Tammy stuffed in more biscuits as Paulette skimmed over the summer swimwear section.

‘I didn’t expect to marry Ricky… but he was sweet on me… and he told me he loved me to bits.’ Tracy shrugged then wandered over and poured herself some tea. ‘I think I was the first girl in the family who got married before she had kids.’

‘I had a shotgun wedding,’ Diane said, stomping over to the biscuits while George extracted himself from the soft play again.

‘Is that a quick wedding?’ Andy asked and grabbed two teas, some biscuits and a piece of cake for Paulette.

‘Yes, but it was more that I was pregnant so my father told him to marry me or he’d dig out his shotgun.’ Diane dipped her biscuit in her tea.

‘Why’d he need to be threatened?’ George muttered and limped over to the biscuits avoiding Miriam in case she manhandled him again. ‘Don’t get why he wouldn’t marry you without you being pregnant.’

The class stopped and stared at him.

‘What?’ George winced in case he’d said something bloke-ish that Diane would batter him for.

‘You would have?’ Diane put her hands on her hips. ‘So then why are you angry when we had dinner?’

George frowned. ‘I’m not angry we had dinner. I’m angry because I paid your boys to stay out of the way for the evening and he went and got hammered.’

‘You paid them?’ Diane narrowed her eyes.

Paulette took a bite of her cake and sipped on her tea as Andy huddled closer to watch, and skim the summer dress selection.

‘Yeah, I paid them.’ George puffed out his chin. ‘We had a bloke to bloke chat that you deserved to be pampered and I wanted to show you I could dance.’ He shrugged. ‘Andy said that a woman should have music and romance and dancing.’

Andy nodded. ‘ I did… I also said singing but I understand why you didn’t.’

Paulette winced. ‘Don’t like to think.’

‘You had tips from Ruby?’ Diane threw her hand in the air but held onto her biscuit then dunked it.

‘No, Ruby doesn’t romance… she gets romanced, thank you,’ Andy said and smiled at Paulette who was not going to acknowledge that she might have used her top hat to sway the young Ruby.

‘Do you want romance or not?’ George bellowed and Stan hid behind Gaynor. More so because Diane had a temper like Gaynor but George didn’t know that—hairdressers were a bit snippy.

‘Yes,’ Diane bellowed back. ‘But my boys wouldn’t know what a woman needed so why you talked to them, I don’t know.’ She thumbed to Andy. ‘They think Ruby is how a woman should look.’

Paulette dunked her biscuit in Andy’s tea. ‘I concur.’

Andy smirked at her.

‘I like Ruby, what’s the issue?’ George put his hands on his hips. ‘And before you start, we’re not those kind of friends.’

Hedges, who watched on with biscuits and tea like the others, nodded. ‘They aren’t, I’ve seen Ruby and Plimsole after the show.’

Tracy and Tammy sniggered. ‘And they didn’t need to be hammered.’

‘And it wasn’t that dark,’ Andy said with a grin.

‘It’s your fault,’ Paulette said and dunked another biscuit in Andy’s tea. ‘I got a full meal, theatre trip, dancing under the streetlights, being serenaded, getting poetry recited to me and he fixed mum’s roof for free.’

  Agnes smiled, amidst planning wedding cake ideas for Ceri, Janis and whoever Andy’s sister Ruby was. She’d never met her but Janis’ mother seemed to think she was very good at singing.

‘You said you always wanted to dance under the streetlights,’ Andy said with a shrug and finished off his tea. ‘Your highlights look fabulous in that glow.’

Paulette pecked him on the cheek. They did, she couldn’t argue.

‘Not sure why I needed to change my shirt when I fixed the roof though,’ Andy said and took his cup over to Ceri who took them out to the kitchen. ‘It wasn’t wet.’

Paulette glowered her mother’s way but Agnes whistled to herself.

‘Can we just tell your mum that we’ll have a parade like Mavis wants?’ Lanie asked Miriam hoping that they could waltz because her helmet would need to be changed at this rate.

‘Ooh, I’d like a parade,’ Andy said with a clap.

Hedges flashed her t-shirt again. ‘I will happily provide poetry… and gardening… and landscaping.’

‘I’ll wear my wig,’ Stan said with a nod. ‘I do like the wig.’

Janis rubbed at her beard. ‘Do I have to wear a wig?’

‘No, you just show up, you’re marrying me.’ Ceri smiled up at her.

‘I want to be in the parade,’ George muttered. ‘I like parades.’

‘You can be in the parade,’ Diane said and kissed him on the cheek planning to give her boys the full ‘mother-to-kid’ chat when she got home. ‘You have a purple apron, that counts.’

‘It does,’ Mary-Lou said and nodded to Glynnis. ‘We can sew some ideas together.’

‘I’ll trim,’ Gaynor said and pointed to her stomach. ‘They will do baby stuff.’

‘I will make cake,’ Agnes said with a wise nod.

The class collectively drooled.

‘What do you think?’ Lanie asked and took Miriam by the hand. ‘Or do you have cold feet.’

‘Nope I have you to keep them warm.’ Miriam beamed and threw herself into Lanie’s arms.

Andy glanced at Paulette who gave up on her catalogue and held up her hands. ‘Plimsole and I will be happy to be included.’

The class cheered which was the first occasion they’d all been in time.

‘Now,’ Paulette said and dragged Andy to the middle of the floor. ‘This is how we Rhumba.’

The class ‘ooh’d,’ Andy pulled her close and Paulette smiled. She wasn’t sure why she loved her class so much but a parade, free roof tiles and… if she admitted it… having Andy around… was very much the icing on the cake.   

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