I hope you are well and smiling. I’ve been under the weather, again, this week so I intended to jot out a quick episode between bed rest, pain killers and more medication but Paulette and co. decided they were going to fill out the episode anyway so it wasn’t a quick episode!
I hope you enjoy, munch on a chocolate or two, grab your Liza top hat and dance your way through this week’s episode of Queer Tango.
Episode 19: Snickers, sneakers, bicycle pumps and other assorted dance moves
One of the many challenges an expert faced when teaching novices was to explain complex technical terms which otherwise would leave the listener blank looked and fuddle-brained, as Agnes would put it.
Paulette, being that expert, had found that any dance term, unless it came with jazz hands, gave her class the exact same look. So, she’d resorted to terms which they could understand and only hoped that they remembered them enough to know when to put their leg out or twirl or simply not knock their classmates over by stepping on their own trouser leg—you’ll know that referred to George.
This week’s rehearsal was to build on the foundations of the terrible dance ability they already had and to complicate it by adding in new scenes while the other class members continued to balls up the other scenes they were supposed to know by now.
To our left, in the joists and plasterboard corner, was Lanie and Miriam locked in their continuing Rhumba/organic versus brand name/recovering from gas inhalation routine. They were working on the middle section of the dance where Lanie needed to threw Miriam onto the floor and twirl her before cartwheeling over her then springing back onto her feet with Lanie cuddled into her back. Paulette was confident in their abilities, at least their athletic abilities, but she had to admit that they were technically very accurate but looked like they were just tacking on the tiles without the felt to sauce it up—as Andy would say.
Lanie was trying to concentrate but she’d been charged with hiring the contractors to build the garden centre who had been terrible all along and had disappeared completely a week ago. That, and her beloved old bicycle had a snapped front fork and she couldn’t afford to fix it or buy a new one.
‘What am I supposed to do again?’ Lanie mumbled as she threw Miriam into an expertly landed heap then stopped and rubbed at her forehead.
‘Twirl her, darling,’ Andy called over from filling in for Janis who had taken offence at a badly plastered section of wall and was re-plastering it. ‘You have her where you want her, ready to be romanced the way she needs.’
Paulette raised her eyebrow at him. This was the problem when one of your students got to sit next to you in bed when you wrote out the choreography.
‘It’s where Miriam gives in to you and clings to you to show that she loves you,’ Paulette added then narrowed her eyes at Andy. ‘And you need to break in and show Stan what he needs.’
Andy winked then smirked at Stan who looked ever so slightly tired. ‘I don’t think I can carry a bed under my arm.’
‘I have an inflatable one if you want it?’ Tracy said with a hint of desperation in her voice. ‘And some kind of pressure relieving inflatable rubber ring.’
‘Why do you have rubber rings?’ Andy stopped so Stan and Hedges tangoed into George’s Safety Mat (registered tradename, right there.)
‘No reason, Ricky just needs to shift some… well a lot… of items quickly,’ Tracy chewed on her Nicorette then tapped her back pocket. ‘I hear the pressure relieving bit helps when you’ve got piles.’
Mary-Lou looked up from the plan for the show dance she was meant to perform with Tammy. ‘Piles?’
Hedges shook her head. ‘You don’t really want that much information.’
Tammy, starved by medical staff and weak from lack of sugar, met Mary-Lou’s eyes. ‘When your butt gets sore.’
‘Why would your butt get sore?’ Mary-Lou furrowed her manicured brow. ‘You mean from being in the saddle?’
Lanie looked over. ‘It could probably help with that too.’
‘Ice helps with that,’ Miriam muttered then tapped Lanie’s foot with hers. ‘It’s not clean down here, can you twirl me?’
Ceri hurried over. ‘The floor is a state.’ She wagged her finger. ‘How can you be thrown around and get what you need when it’s so unhygienic.’ She bustled out past Janis who had plastered an entire section since the start of class when it had taken three months for the contractors to mix plaster.
‘I would twirl you but I don’t know how to from here.’ Lanie shrugged and looked over at Paulette who was staring after Ceri through a large crack in the brickwork. ‘I don’t really know what this term means.’
Paulette got down off her workbench and headed over not sure if Ceri had quit or was walking off her disgust or if she would come back with cleaning materials.
‘Crank her like a sideways bicycle when you’re making sure the gears are back on and then throw yourself over her bars to haul her up onto your back,’ Paulette said without even the slightest of hesitations that she’d resorted to explaining rhumba like sorting out a bike gear.
‘Like when you need to carry them up narrow steps but you can’t be bothered to hold the bike in front,’ Andy added like he’d tried it and it was normal to run up steps with a bike on your back.
‘Okay,’ Lanie said then twirled Miriam with skill, cartwheeled and dragged Miriam onto her back without putting a foot out of line all the while trying not to sob over her bicycle. ‘Like that?’
Paulette nodded. ‘If you could try it like you fancy her, that might help.’
Lanie frowned. ‘I live with her.’
‘You do, there’s washing up in the sink to prove it,’ Miriam said with a chuckle then clambered off Lanie’s back and pecked her on the cheek.
Paulette met Andy’s eyes. ‘We’re not discussing it in class.’
He pulled his pouty lip and tore Stan from Hedges’ grasp. ‘Maybe you fancy moving in with me, Stan.’
‘Just try changing her nappy,’ Stan said in a sleep-filled voice, his eyelids drooping. ‘Or dancing.’
Hedges raised her eyebrows. ‘It’s a lot less awkward than when he tried to sing me to sleep,’ she said then shook her head. ‘Although I do enjoy being sung to, I’m not sure it’s quite appropriate to kiss someone on the forehead too.’
Mary-Lou snorted while directing a moody Tammy to her starting spot. ‘You’re not those kinda friends, honey.’
‘I’ll say, I put up with his snoring fair and square,’ Gaynor said, holding Liza in her arms as she stood in line with George, Diane, Glynnis and Tracy who were meant to be jiving. They weren’t jiving though, they were drawing out shapes of suits, wedding dresses and cakes with their hands.
George bounced off the safety mat—Yes, he even managed to trip over standing in a line—and put his hands on his hips. ‘I don’t get why I need tails. I look like I’m going to school when I wear a suit.’
‘You should wear a waistcoat too,’ Andy called over trying to extract himself as Stan cuddled him. ‘And you clearly went to the dentist.’
Miriam shook her head as Lanie threw her clinically to the floor again. ‘We fixed the gas, thank you.’
‘I don’t want to wear a waistcoat,’ George muttered at Andy and tried to jive next to Diane, then mis-stepped and kicked over a sealed bag of plaster. ‘My grandfather wore waistcoats.’
‘Plimsole looks fabulous in a waistcoat,’ Andy purred Paulette’s way and shot her the kind of smile that she really quite liked.
‘Plimsole is currently growing our baby so can’t fit into that waistcoat,’ Paulette said in her best stern, teacher voice because she was not at all swayed by his beautiful blue eyes. ‘And no, we’re still not discussing it in class.’
‘But I don’t get why we can’t rent,’ Andy shot back then pouted again and tapped Stan as he lay his head to Andy’s shoulder. ‘However much I like you, Stan, we’re not in correct relationship to share pillows… or act as them.’
Stan opened his eyes, yawned and got into hold. ‘Aren’t I meant be dancing with Hedges?’
Hedges was too busy chatting to Mary-Lou who was now trying to show Tammy how to cross her legs and jump twirl.
‘I tried asking the guy but he looked kinda lost,’ Mary-Lou said and performed a jump twirl. ‘He kept trying to hand me sweat pants.’
Tammy rubbed at her tummy. ‘Sounds too much like sweets.’ She sobbed and hung her head. ‘I don’t get why the doctor keeps taking my sweets away.’
Hedges patted her on the shoulder. ‘You’ve lost lots of weight though.’ She looked up at Mary-Lou. ‘What were you asking him for?’
‘Track shoes,’ Mary Lou said, performed the jump-twirl again then shrugged. ‘He said his smallest size was a ten.’ She pointed down at her feet. ‘How am I gonna fit in a size ten?’
‘Easily,’ Tammy muttered then gazed longingly over at Agnes’ biscuits. ‘If you keep asking him for a tracksuit then what do you expect?’
‘No, sneakers,’ Mary-Lou said then held up her hands as Tammy’s expression grew desperate. ‘I mean the ones on your feet, honey, not the ones in a wrapper.’
Paulette glared over. ‘Why are you jumping and not Tammy?’
Hedges screwed up her face. ‘What kind of sneakers?’
Tammy sobbed again. ‘I’m so hungry.’
‘Okay, so they aren’t tennis shoes,’ Mary-Lou said and placed Tammy’s feet into position. ‘I don’t need tennis shoes.’
Tracy glanced over mid-jive. ‘Are the trainers you wear for tennis any different to other trainers?’
‘Yes,’ Glynnis said, stepping out of the way as George slipped and hit his mat. ‘You wear ones that don’t mark the court or grass shoes in the summer.’
Paulette walked over and pulled a Snickers from her pocket. ‘If you try and get some part of the routine right, I’ll give you this.’
Tammy nodded. ‘I need that food.’
‘Then, for the dance, you’re Mary-Lou’s best friend, her confidante and you know that Stan—’ Paulette pointed to Stan who had his eyes closed. ‘—is trying to lure her beloved Hedges from her and break up the partnership.’
Tammy grabbed Mary-Lou and shook her shoulders. ‘Forget your tennis shoes, luv, Hedges needs you.’
Mary-Lou smirked. ‘I don’t need tennis shoes and I tried explaining to the guy they weren’t high-tops.’
Hedges peered up at her like she was an unruly shrub. ‘Do you mean the brand of sheers?’
‘No, the sneakers that the kids love,’ Mary-Lou peered down at her with complete affection. ‘They ain’t low-tops.’
‘What about gold tops?’ Tammy asked and tried to jump-twirl, landed on the loose floor plank which flipped up the other side and smacked George… there.
He bent over with a groan as Andy patted him on the back.
‘Breathe through it,’ Andy mumbled and fanned him with Stan’s wig as he snored while standing up.
George whimpered in response.
‘Gold tops?’ Mary-Lou slid herself backward as if to reject Tammy’s words about Hedges—at least she should have been if she was concentrating on dancing not shoes.
‘No, I have red tops, semi-skinned.’ Hedges nodded up at Tammy who jump-twirled again. The plank shot up again and smacked George on the bum.
Janis glowered over from finishing off the plaster on one side. ‘Needs fixing.’
Andy bent over in support of George who had tears in his eyes. ‘I think he might well be fixed.’ He wince smiled at Diane. ‘Hopefully you were happy with just the two children?’
Diane snorted, mid-jive, gossip with Glynnis over wedding arrangements. ‘As much as I wouldn’t mind, I quit laying years ago.’
Glynnis chuckled then jived with Gaynor… and Liza who giggled. ‘I’m relieved to say the same.’
Andy smirked. ‘Come on, Saucy, you’re far too youthful.’
Glynnis waved him off then fanned herself. ‘I produced Trevor. We don’t need more Trevors.’
The class nodded in agreement.
‘I feel a bit dizzy,’ Miriam said as Lanie twirled her yet again. ‘Can we just do another section?’ She stumbled then held onto her head.
‘But Paulette wants me to do it like I fancy you,’ Lanie said then shrugged. She was too sad over her bicycle. She’d always wanted a special off and on track hybrid bike… her dream bike. ‘I do fancy you.’
Miriam raised her eyebrows. ‘Sweetheart, I’m clear how much you fancy me.’ She pecked Lanie on the lips. ‘If you want to think of me as your dream bike, then I’m good.’
‘I’ll sort out the floor,’ Ceri said as she bustled in with, yep, cleaning tools such as mop, brush, bucket, dustpan, spray, clothes, several fluffy items Paulette had no idea about, and two wire cleaners. ‘You need gloves when you do that, Janis.’
Janis looked up from holding the loose floor plank. ‘I’m only fixing this one.’
‘You’ll get more splinters,’ Ceri said then set about scrubbing the floor next to Lanie on her hands and knees.
Paulette met Andy’s eyes.
‘Maybe we could have a section where Ceri cleans and Janis fixes the floor?’ He said then shrugged. ‘I can fix floors too but you don’t have to when you rent.’
‘We’re not discussing it in class,’ Paulette shot back.
‘What are red tops?’ Mary-Lou said as Tammy stomped at her—she was meant to quick step but it was close enough for jazz as Diane would say. ‘Are they like pumps?’
‘Did you say pumps?’ Lanie asked as she pulled Miriam close to her and leaned her back into the sideward ‘pull-the-bike-over-the fence’ move. ‘I have a pump, is your tyre flat?’
She sniffed. She wouldn’t need her pump without a bike anyway.
Mary-Lou dramatically sidestepped Tammy and did a lunge, front flip before moving into a salsa shimmy. ‘No, pumps, you don’t know those sneakers either?’
‘A trainer is a trainer,’ Tracy said chomping her gum as she pulled her trouser leg up showing hers… and her tag. ‘They multi-task.’
Hedges nodded. ‘I wear mine when I’m cleaning sometimes. Helps me get a better feel for the cleaner.’
Ceri paused from her floor cleaning to smile. ‘I wear mine to do the gardening.’
‘Sneakers are kinda multi-task shoes, sure,’ Mary-Lou said moving through several ballet-come-Liza-style steps as she ignored Tammy’s stomp-quick-step pleas. ‘No, pumps are kinda fashion shoes.’
‘Do you mean basketball ones?’ Hedges asked as she charged at Andy and threw him to the side then stopped as Stan snored at her so she eased Stan back to the joists next to Miriam and Lanie, took his wig and stuck it on Andy’s head. ‘My son has basketball shoes.’
‘You don’t play basketball in high-tops anymore, honey,’ Mary-Lou said as Tammy threw in some Liza-steps and jazz hands. ‘Sure, they had roots there but junior has street wear not court wear.’
Tammy smirked. ‘Unlike Ricky who’ll need court wear when the judge realised he burgled his house.’
Tracy pursed her lips. ‘How was he to know that his mates got it wrong?’ She jived with Diane as George straightened up with puffed out cheeks. ‘He said they thought it was an easy job, but then the police showed and they got nicked and now he needs to lighten his storage.’
Mary-Lou looked to Hedges.
‘He did a Ricky but his friends did a Trevor and now he has hot goods.’ Hedges nodded conspiratorially. ‘And he’ll need an inflatable rubber ring if the man he stole it off finds out.’
Tracy snorted. ‘Translated with skill, Hedgey.’
Hedges paused, mid tango with Andy and took a bow.
Paulette rubbed over her growing bump. Stress wasn’t good for the baby but she’d explained to the doctor that she taught her Bumblethorpe dance troop and that meant she was always stressed but he’d found it funny… until she pulled out her plimsole.
‘We can’t find a low-key place to have the wedding and I don’t really want it in the town hall now they’ve painted it bright green,’ Diane said, taking her turn to jiggle with Liza in her arms as Gaynor dug in her bag for a bottle. ‘I can’t cope with that on the wedding photos.’
George held onto a nearby joist and moved Stan’s head off his shoulder. ‘I don’t know why they painted it green.’
‘Trevor,’ Ceri said mid scrub. ‘He thought we were getting married there.’
‘Can you give the goods to Trevor and then tell the judge where he lives?’ Agnes asked from her usual spot among the tea cups and biscuits. ‘That would be helpful.’
Ceri and Janis chuckled… a bit too hard.
‘I can, you know,’ Tracy said with a cocky grin on her face. ‘He can share a sell with Ferris.’
Lanie stopped and Miriam headbutted her cheek with the momentum. ‘Did you say Ferris?’
Tracy nodded. ‘Yeah, why?’
Lanie waved at the wall. ‘He was my contractor… he said he’d been doing buildings for years.’
‘Yeah, which is why Ricky knows him.’ Tammy jump twirled again, the plank shot up and smacked Janis under the chin.
Janis stumbled backward and Andy steered her into the safety mat to slump down with a wince on his face.
‘Ferris knows Ricky,’ Lanie muttered and smacked her hand to her forehead. ‘No wonder he was so cheap.’
Mary-Lou paused mid-splits to glower at her. ‘You hired a Ricky who did a Trevor on my store?’
‘I didn’t know he was a Ricky,’ Lanie said then hung her head. ‘He looked…’ She glanced at Tracy, respectable probably wasn’t the best word to say. ‘He wasn’t in joggers.’
‘Which is what I wanna do with my sneakers,’ Mary-Lou muttered back but she had long assumed Lanie hadn’t hired the right people. ‘Fire the guy and hire me a woman who can plug my roof.’
Andy whistled. ‘You go, girl.’
Lanie blushed. ‘I don’t know any women who can help in that area and I’m not sure if Barney would like it.’
Miriam chuckled. ‘I think she means the building site, sweetheart.’
‘Oh,’ Lanie said then blushed pink.
Mary-Lou snorted. ‘I don’t wanna be those kinda friends, honey.’ She nodded to Janis rubbing at her chin as Ceri stuck cleaning fluid under her nose like a smelling salt. ‘But she sure knows how to handle power tools.’
‘I do like power tools.’ Hedges peered up at her. ‘Did you mean running shoes?’
‘Yeah, track shoes,’ Mary-Lou said with a sigh. ‘But I don’t have size ten feet.’
Tracy slapped her thigh in frustration. ‘Ricky has a pair of them.’
‘I like power tools,’ Andy said to Paulette as she wandered to the tea table. ‘I can cook too.’
‘We can’t afford a house,’ Paulette muttered back at him, once again giving up on class. She needed tea… or chasers with a roofer in the dark. ‘You make as much money as me.’
Andy glanced over at Glynnis and George for support who nodded. ‘But, if we rent somewhere…’
‘We can’t afford rent and a baby,’ Paulette took her tea off Agnes and sipped at it. ‘And the guy who runs the local renting agency is Ricky’s brother.’
Tracy nodded. ‘What’s wrong with that?’
‘He also goes Ricky-ing with Ricky,’ Paulette dunked her biscuit. ‘And as much as my cousins fear plimsoles, we’d still need me to run double the classes and somehow make a part-time job while having a baby to afford it.’
Agnes peered at Tracy. ‘Does Ricky have any construction materials?’
Tracy shook her head. ‘No, but I have some interesting sculptures?’
Tammy jump twirled and landed with perfect grace. The class stopped and stared at her. ‘I didn’t knock anyone out.’ She laughed. ‘Hah. Eat that, Liza.’
Liza gurgled around her bottle.
‘She prefers mum-top,’ Gaynor said with a smirk. ‘She didn’t like the formula.’
Tracy grinned. ‘You even looked a bit like Liza.’
Tammy waved her off. ‘Mum moves way better than I could.’
Paulette held up a Snickers. ‘I think you earned it.’
Tammy hurried over, snatched it and chomped away. ‘Showbiz has its perks.’
‘How would he feel about donating a grannie-child/child annex?’ Agnes said and handed Paulette a biscuit. ‘So Andy can show he can build them a home as well as Janis.’
Janis squinted over. ‘I’m building a home?’ She peered up at Ceri. ‘Did I build a home?’
‘We’re hoping you’ll build the garden centre,’ Lanie said then wrapped an arm around Miriam. ‘If you think you want to try… with help?’
‘Stan’ll pitch in,’ Gaynor said shaking her head at him as he snored away on his feet. ‘Maybe he’ll bring Hedges’ Junior.’
Hedges nodded. ‘He will be thrilled, in his high-tops.’
Mary-Lou poked out her tongue. ‘I still need track shoes.’
‘I know the shop,’ Andy said with a smile then chewed his lip as he turned to Paulette. ‘How about a Ruby, Plimsole and baby annex.’
‘Talking of shops, did Ricky pick up the item for me without stealing anything,’ Miriam asked Tracy with a sneaky grin.
‘Outside, luv,’ Tracy said with a wink and turned back to Paulette. ‘You shacking up with a roofer or what?’
‘You want me to live next to my mother so she can just pop in whenever she likes to make food, clean up and babysit?’ Paulette met her mother’s eyes then grinned. ‘Please.’
‘She’s shacking up with the roofer.’ Andy high-fived Glynnis then shrugged at Paulette. ‘And I didn’t even need chasers.’ He held up his hands. ‘I’m delighted, Plimsole, work with me.’
She wagged her biscuit at him. ‘Fix the roof and I’ll be delighted too.’ She pointed up at it as a large rain drop hit her on the head.
‘For you, Plimsole, I will dig out my power tools.’ Andy winked and turned to Lanie. ‘But best you get Janis to make the structure sound before I twinkle my way on top of it.’
‘What item?’ Lanie mumbled, relieved she wasn’t fired and that someone useful was helping who might actually show up for work.
‘I don’t mind building it,’ Janis said with a dazed look. ‘I like building.’
Ceri nodded and dabbed at her forehead with a feather duster. ‘I think we should have Diane’s wedding in the morning and then we can have ours in the afternoon and a double reception.’
Janis blinked at her. ‘Huh?’
George nodded. ‘Yeah, huh… we’re on about people building and moving in.’
Ceri looked over. ‘I know but I was still jiving in my head.’ She smiled at Paulette. ‘I was visualising… and that way Trevor can’t book the boat in the morning like he’s trying to.’
Diane smiled. ‘What a lovely idea.’ She looked at George as Miriam disappeared out of the door. ‘If you agree, I won’t make you wear a waistcoat.’
‘I’m in.’ George grinned at Ceri. ‘Saves having different suits.’
Andy clapped with Glynnis. ‘I love weddings.’
Paulette rolled her eyes. ‘What is Miriam doing?’
Miriam danced into the room wearing a bicycle helmet, rhumba style. She hoisted a shiny bike on her back then swooped it around, did a shimmy and then wheeled it over to Lanie.
‘One hybrid very shiny bike,’ Miriam said studying Lanie whose face had gone blank. ‘It took ages to find one because they’re handmade but Ricky knew a guy…’ She held up her hand. ‘A honest bike seller who he knows through his not so honest son.’ She tapped the saddle. ‘Because I fancy you in lycra.’
Mary-Lou chuckled. ‘She looks way better in it than Barney.’ She sighed and pulled her mouth to the side. ‘He still keeps wearing the pink.’
Lanie stared at the bike then took it from Miriam, handed to Andy and rhumba moved Miriam into the middle of the floor, threw her to it, spun her with complete expertise… and intensity and yanked her up to face her before landing a huge smacker on her then leaning her back into it.
The class cheered, Stan snored, and Paulette glanced at her mother who whistled then poured more tea.
‘I have eight daughters, dear,’ Agnes said and handed her a biscuit. ‘Although I never tried giving him a bike.’
Paulette leaned onto Andy’s shoulder. ‘I guess that’s her version of borrowing my high heels.’
Andy hummed his agreement. ‘Yes, well, you did throw your footwear at me, Plimsole, so I will give you babies, move in with you and you will be wearing a waistcoat when it fits.’ He pursed his lips at her and batted his long eyelashes.
She cuddled into him as Lanie drooled over her new bike and Miriam had some tea to calm herself. Yes, experts and their technical speak didn’t understand just how effective, sneakers, snickers, bicycle pumps and other assorted dance moves truly were.