Episode 11: Hedgey Situation
I hope that the weather is as beautiful where you are. Reading a typeset isn’t very easy when you can’t see well and I’ve paused to bring you Episode 11 of Queer Tango – Hedgey Situation.
I hope that it makes you chuckle and grin while shimmying!
Salsa was a dance that called for energy and to be able to shimmy. Paulette always thought of it as a show dance because it was as much about dancing to the audience as it was the chemistry between the partners. Salsa in the hands of her intrepid class meant there bits wobbling that shouldn’t really wobble, feet placed at angles which made her wince, and apart from Andy, Glynnis, Lanie, Mariam, Mary-Lou and Hedges who made passable attempts, the class looked like they had attached themselves to a ‘fat-busting’ machine which had gone into overdrive. Yes, she was sure that most of them would be aching for weeks.
‘You need to look at your partner and glance out to the side as if an audience is there,’ Paulette said, chomping on her ice lolly. She’d decided on Salsa in a fit of inspiration with the heatwave–and the idea of Andy shimmying was very pleasant–but even with all the windows open, Paulette was sweltering just watching.
‘How am I supposed to do that and watch my feet?’ George muttered, stamping his way through steps that she’d never seen in Salsa before.
‘You’re not meant to watch your feet,’ she said and smiled as half the class frowned at her.
‘Then how’d you know where you’re putting them then,’ Stan asked, fanning himself and Gaynor with his wig.
‘You’re attached to them,’ Paulette said and finished her ice lolly. ‘You don’t look at them when you walk, do you?’
Janis rubbed at her beard. ‘Don’t know.’ She turned to Ceri who was fanning herself with feather dusters. ‘Do I look at my feet?’
‘No,’ Ceri said with a flustered smile. ‘I know I’m looking at you so I’m not looking at my feet.’
Janis took off her tango-hat—as she called it—and fanned Ceri too. ‘Someone will think you’re sweet on me.’ She pecked Ceri on the cheek. ‘You check your step count too.’
Ceri beamed up at her. ‘So then I know you’re watching me as much.’
‘I look at my feet,’ George said then frowned. ‘I’d trip over if I didn’t.’
‘You don’t,’ Diane smiled at him, dabbing at her forehead with her boa. ‘You’d walk into things.’
‘You don’t look at your feet. So look at your partner when you dance or the walls.’ Paulette chewed on the lollipop stick and smiled at Andy gazing at her. He didn’t need to look at his feet and strutted along beside her with a mixture of utter grace and slight totter.
George scrunched up his face with concentration and off the class went again to her tapping her plimsole to the mat like a metronome.
‘I do love those displays you have outside the store,’ Diane said to Mary-Lou as George stamped all over her feet. ‘They are—’ She yelped. ‘—very beautiful.’
Mary-Lou beamed. ‘Provided by Hedges.’ She shimmied with fluidity and style loving the warm weather. ‘Sure looks pretty.’
Hedges wasn’t convinced that so many honeysuckle plants were a good idea outside a shop entrance, especially as her sister kept bees nearby. ‘I’m grateful you offered us the contract.’
Mary-Lou raised her finely pencilled eyebrow not sure if the heat had gotten to Hedges. ‘Who else would I have given it to?’
Glynnis paused mid-shimmy to hold up her hand. ‘Do not mention that boy.’
‘He wanted to give me free lawn mowing.’ Andy smirked at Paulette who thwacked her plimsole to the mat—He was delighted that she wasn’t impressed how many times Trevor had called him to fix the roof on the garden shed he and Glynnis’ husband were camped out in.
‘Free?’ Hedges said, while limping and half-shimmying. ‘Why free?’
‘Because he loves Ruby.’ Andy thumbed to Paulette’s t-shirt which said ‘Hands off Ruby.’
Glynnis squeezed Hedges’ shoulder on her wiggle past. ‘I’m charging him for using my gardening equipment so it might be free for Andy but it won’t be for him.’
‘I declined anyway,’ Andy said with a wiggle of his body. ‘Mum likes her daisies on the lawn and Mr Hedges always leaves them for her.’
George tripped over Diane’s foot and bumped into Hedges, knocking her into Mary-Lou. ‘I’m selling Hedge Fries and Step-Gran Sausages just so you know.’
Diane beamed at him while trying to avoid his clomping feet. ‘He is and he even had his beard shaved off by Gaynor again.’
‘He did.’ Gaynor nodded, mid chomp on her ketchup covered scone—her new craving—She’d thoroughly enjoyed shaving off most of his hair too even the crazy combover that Diane always allowed him to have because he was sensitive about losing his hair.
‘Mum is chuffed,’ Janis said, once again checking if Gaynor had snipped off her beard. ‘She says she’s never had food named after her before.’
‘It’s a lovely idea,’ Ceri said, mid-march-wiggle and tried to smile but Trevor had a new girlfriend who was a solicitor and she’d had somehow managed to get the police to investigate Janis’ mother for ‘international crimes.’ It was ploy, of course, to ‘make her see sense,’ as he’d snapped at her on the street. ‘I’m so thrilled that Colin is giving people a discount on tyres too.’
Tammy flicked her gaze from Tracy to the walls and back. She wasn’t sure how to do it without feeling so dizzy. ‘My Colin knows how to work people. He said Trevor even tried wearing a t-shirt to get discount and then threatened to sue him because he wouldn’t serve him.’
Tracy chewed on her gum, not sure why Tammy’s eyes were trying to Salsa too. ‘My Ricky is only nicking from people who are on Trevor’s side.’
Tammy snorted. ‘Not sure Glynnis would be happy if he nicked the garden shed though.’
Glynnis sauntered by in hold. ‘They can sleep in the wild grass for all I care… both of them.’
Her husband had decided that she was a terrible mother to turn on her son publicly and so had taken up residence in the garden shed with him in support. Glynnis, however, was delighted. She had full control over the TV, no mess and there was no toothpaste on her bathroom floor.
‘It’s too tall to be called a grass anymore,’ Andy said with a snigger and hid his mouth with his hand. He shouldn’t laugh but he’d been paid by Glynnis not to do a good job on the roof so there were leak spots ready for when it rained.
‘You can’t let it grow that tall,’ Hedges mumbled, happy that she got to work the rest of the garden, and happier not to see Glynnis’ husband or Trevor glaring at her from the shed, but still. ‘You’ll need a bush cutter at this rate.’
‘Or not,’ Glynnis twirled Andy who ‘ooh’d’ and threw in a ‘Ruby move’ which meant flicking his leg out at the back and flopping his hand to his chest.
Paulette chewed on her lollipop stick and winked at him. ‘He’s decided he wants to learn to dance now too.’
Andy stopped and put his hands on his hips. ‘You’re not allowed to teach him. He’ll see your Plimsole and then he’ll be in love and I’m not letting you do a Trevor, I don’t care.’
Paulette blew him a kiss around her stick. ‘He’d look shocking in a dress.’
‘He does,’ Ceri mumbled trying not to meet anyone’s eyes and glanced at her step-count. ‘We went through that phase before he left me.’
‘He’s only doing this so you’ll leave me,’ Ceri said then fanned herself with her feather duster again. ‘I told him how handy you are so he thinks proving he’s the best gardener will persuade me that I miss him.’
‘I’m not going to do a Trevor.’ Ceri smiled up at her and then threw herself into a hug. ‘But he thinks that if he scares you off, I can’t cope on my own.’
Janis pulled off her hat. ‘He tries anything like it and I’ll stick him to my roof with gum.’
Andy snickered. ‘Just do so away from the guttering because mould always clogs it.’
‘He won’t win,’ Diane said performing something akin to a break dance to avoid George’s feet. ‘My boys are helping too and I’m telling every customer what he’s done.’
Her boys were also helping for their “agreement” with George and her eldest son breaking it to be sick all over the floor. Now she knew what George had been up to… she was hoping he’d try something as sneaky again so she could make her move and hurry him up.
‘I appreciate that,’ Hedges said with a pained smile. She was limping because Diane’s boys were helping… and the eldest had dropped the tree pruner on her foot.
‘I’m making up stuff but they love it,’ Gaynor said with a twirl and a chomp. ‘He’s making up that Ceri left him for Janis and he had to go and live with Barry because she used to lock him out.’ She pulled the ketchup bottle from Stan’s belt-sash. ‘So I said he’d kidnapped Barry and forced him to be a binman.’
Stan chuckled and peeled the paint off his fingers as Gaynor lathered her scone. ‘Mrs Walsh got that a bit mixed up so Trevor got kidnapped by a binman in Barry and Janis’ mother hired him.’
‘Mrs Walsh?’ Agnes said, peering up from formulating her plan to scupper Trevor’s campaign. ‘You can’t go by what she says, Gladys thinks her son bought Squishy.’
Mary-Lou raised an eyebrow.
‘She doesn’t have a son,’ Agnes said drawing her blueprints. ‘She has a daughter who married very well.’ The class turned to her and she shrugged and steadied her blue rinse. ‘One too many tipples during WI meetings, I say.’
Paulette rolled her eyes. When did the WI meetings involve anything but knitting and cake making?
‘I met Barry the other day,’ Tracy said with a chew on her gum and a step away from Tammy who looked like she might wiggle. ‘I said that unless he came clean to the Bumblethorpe Community Magazine about their relationship, I’d send in Paulette’s plimsole.’
Paulette was only too happy to help especially if she could beat Trevor with it for sending Andy flowers more than she did. It didn’t matter that he was also sending her flowers, he sent Andy more which was just insulting.
Miriam was sort of hearing the conversation but she was too caught up in gazing at Lanie who wiggled away with a confident smile on her face. The fainting had stopped when she’d taken Lanie for a bike ride and secluded picnic and now they were most definitely those kind of friends and it was very hard to concentrate.
‘You need to wiggle here,’ Lanie whispered to her, took her hips and moved her around.
Miriam nodded, feeling oddly faint. ‘I think I need biscuits.’
‘Oh, whose leading that couple now?’ Tracy said with a grin and whistle at them, loudly enough that Agnes checked her kettle. ‘Ay, Lanie, she’s looking a bit wobbly there.’
Lanie raised her eyebrows then looked at Miriam. She did look a bit peaky. ‘You like my Salsa?’
‘I love you,’ Miriam mumbled then blushed then shrugged and buried her head in Lanie’s shoulder.
Lanie grinned wide enough that Agnes checked if she’d snaffled the custard creams. ‘You love me?’
Tammy tap danced her way through the wedding march. ‘Give her a parade and she’s smitten.’
‘You are as yummy as a scone with ketchup,’ Gaynor said not sure why but she felt sentimental. ‘And I haven’t had flowers from you in a while.’ She met Stan’s astonished eyes. ‘Where are the poems and the songs from Hedges—’ She pushed out her bottom lip. ‘That say you really like my style?’
Paulette leaned back onto the mats as Andy clapped. He liked to encourage people, he was nice like that but she’d rather he dance in class. She’d threaten him with a plimsole but loved Plimsole, he’d told her during a romantic dinner, so it was hard to be angry when he looked so nice shirtless.
‘I can give you poetry,’ Stan said and pulled off his wig and stooped to one knee. ‘I thought you hated it.’
‘I do… but…’ Gaynor kissed him on the head. ‘I think the baby loves it.’
Stan cleared his throat, eyes on Gaynor’s ever growing bump. ‘I love your mum who makes me happy—’ He beamed up at her. ‘—and won me over on the first glance.’ He kissed the bump. ‘So I’m delighted I’ll get to change your nappy—’ He hugged the bump. ‘—And I hope you don’t mind I wear a frock to dance.’
The class clapped and cheered.
Gaynor dabbed at her eyes. ‘It kicked…’
‘Paulette used to kick all the time,’ Agnes said, pen in hand. She’d enlisted Mavis, her old partner in crime, to assist her in removing the tyres on Trevor’s car and putting it on bricks. Mavis had slowed her down though—she was a lot slower since she needed inserts for her bunions—and Trevor had spotted them. It was handy having a great-nephew in the police though and even more handy that all the old officers were long retired so thought her and Mavis would never do anything as underhand. She smiled to herself as her kettle bubbled away. Paulette’s father had been a policeman but never twigged what she’d been up to when he’d met her sprinting up the street.
‘That’s great but I’d like you to move as much,’ Paulette said and thwacked her plimsole again. ‘Hedges, that isn’t wiggling.’
Hedges winced at her. ‘I pulled my back trying to rescue Diane’s son from falling off the ladder.’
Diane sighed. ‘It was my eldest, wasn’t it?’
‘I swear he’s growing into Trevor.’ She met George’s eyes. ‘How do I stop him growing into Trevor?’
‘Military service,’ Glynnis said with a grunt then checked her messages mid-wiggle. She’d hired the best barrister in a hundred miles to help Janis’ mother and she’d promised to call off the police.
‘I’m not sure he can be in military,’ Stan mumbled and then hoped his smile would stop Diane scowling. ‘He’s not very fit.’
George kept his expression neutral and he was not letting on that he thought Diane’s son was a lazy porker who needed a kick up his backside.
‘He needs a man to guide him,’ Diane said to George in hope… she would like to get married before she drew her pension.
‘I don’t have a lot of experience with kids.’ George stomped around, trying to avoid staring at Diane’s wiggling bosom hoping it looked like he was facing the audience ‘My sister does well enough on her own with hers.’
Diane tutted. ‘I talked to your sister, you’re the one doing homework with them.’
George kept looking at the walls. ‘They are just talking Trevor.’
Diane wiggled more not sure why George couldn’t look at her. ‘You even bought plants for your yard which they are learning to look after.’
George shrugged. ‘Can I say it was dark and I was hammered?’
Andy snorted. ‘No, you shouldn’t be drunk in charge of youngsters.’
Tracy pulled her mouth to the side. Good thing she already had a tag on then.
‘You need to shimmy while gossiping,’ Paulette muttered and slapped her plimsole extra hard—as much as she was delighted for George that he had children tending plants, she wanted some kind of effort. Even her over eighties class managed more energy.
Tammy wiggled and smacked Tracy across the chops with her chest. Tracy stumbled back and into Diane’s cleavage then pulled herself upright with a shake of her head.
Diane tapped her on the nose. ‘As Mary-Lou would say, we’re not those kinda friends.’
Mary-Lou ‘ah humm’d’ and tapped Hedges on the snapback.
‘Ay, that’s further than George has got,’ Tracy said with a smirk. ‘And I didn’t even need to give you a fry-up.’
Diane let out a sigh. ‘I can’t argue with that, it’s the furthest anyone has been since my husband died…’ She glanced at the biscuits to make herself feel better. ‘Unless you count the nurse who used to do the smear tests.’
‘That’s my sister-in-law,’ Tammy said, yanking Tracy back to her and righting her Welsh-woman’s hat. ‘She says that she threatened her husband that if he supports Trevor and has him cut their lawn, then she’ll give him a smear.’
George, Andy and Stan looked to each other and Andy wrinkled up his mouth. ‘It isn’t pleasant… lady zones.’
George blushed and danced into the table while Stan lowered his head in respect.
‘Giving birth is far worse,’ Diane mumbled and tugged George before he Salsa-ed them into the soft play. ‘Not to mention the stitches.’
Gaynor lowered her scone. ‘Stitches?’
‘Yes,’ Ceri said, hoping it would stop Gaynor fainting. ‘They make you knit… right, Diane?’
Glynnis, Diane, Tammy, Tracy, Agnes, Hedges, Mary-Lou all nodded with complete falseness.
‘Yes, you purl your way through it,’ Glynnis said with and strained smile. ‘It’s far more painful when they are adults or pretending to be them.’
Gaynor munched on her scone. ‘That’s okay then, I thought I’d have a blemish.’
‘Well, I am glad that Ruby needs no such treatment,’ Andy said and threw in a full body shimmy to the point everyone apart from Stan and George fanned themselves.
‘She will if she doesn’t DANCE.’ Paulette fanned herself with her plimsole quite sure that she’d need stitches on her heart if Andy left her.
Andy poked his tongue out and wiggled Glynnis around with extra energy. Tammy tried to do the same only she was still flicking her eyes from wall to Tracy like a ping-pong and stamped on Janis’ foot. Janis hopped about, Ceri march-wiggling with her, and bumped Hedges into Mary-Lou who stepped back into Diane. Diane, grooving her way into the number, bashed her bottom into Lanie who lurched into Miriam and they clattered to the floor in a position that Miriam felt even more faint.
She flopped her hand back and George, stomping away, tripped over her arm. He wobbled and swayed panicking because he was next to Stan. ‘Move!’
Gaynor was completely engrossed in her scone so Stan let go, stepped to the side and took George in a soak-up tackle and was hurled into Glynnis who ploughed into Andy and sent him flying at Gaynor. ‘Look out!’
Tracy snapped her hand out and caught Andy by the shirt and Tammy grabbed his trouser leg.
Andy splatted to the floor, rolled, rhumba style, to avoid hitting Gaynor, tumbled past her… but his flailing shirt clipped Gaynor’s ankle. ‘Oh… sorry!’
Janis spotted Gaynor wobbling and she dived to her feet like a Tango lunge, shoved Agnes’ head down with one strong jazz hand and hurled the safety mat across the room.
Stan used a quick-step, pirouetted and spun Gaynor to the side, pulled her into his arms and gently flopped them onto the mat with a relieved sigh.
‘Didn’t realise we could sit down,’ Gaynor said, blind to the heap of dancers on the floor.
Paulette rolled her eyes as the kettle boiled and tried, and failed spectacularly, to ignore Andy who was once again shirtless at her feet.
‘Well,’ she said with a shake of her head and salsa-ed over them to the biscuits and lifted up her tea cup. ‘I think that salsa is a class effort… and I’m glad none of you did a Trevor during a Hedgey situation.’