I check my reflection in the mirror. Stretch marks and a caesarean scar have put an end to my bikini days but with my sleek new black dress I look like any other slender 22 year old. I load the boys into my used Chamois Gold 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, drop them off at my parents house, and head out to the Tropicana Disco to meet my friend, Sandy.
Under the swirling, flashing lights, we do the Hustle, the Bump, the Funky Chicken, and our own brand of free style disco to Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and KC and the Sunshine Band. But when the DJ plays Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” the perfect anthem for a newly-minted divorce`, I own that dance floor. I belt out “Oh, no, not I” with all the conviction in the world. But my disco zen is interrupted by a silly gaggle of weird looking guys jerking wildly with flailing elbows, clearly trying to get my attention. I ignore them.
On my way home, a yellow Ford Pinto appears in my rear view mirror. The guys from the disco pull up in the left lane along side of my Olds, beeping their horn, whooping and hollering, thrusting an index finger to the sky, mimicking Travolta’s signature dance move.
“What the_______” I think just as my car clips the bumper of a parked car. The jolt ricochets my Olds into the left lane and as I close in on the car full of guys, their faces change from hilarity to open mouthed alarm. I hit them full force in the right fender sending both of our cars spinning out of control.
When the Olds finally loses momentum, I guide it to the side of the road as do the four nerds in the Pinto. They jump out of the car and run to ask if I am okay. We are all shaky but okay. I assess the damage. The Olds took the hit pretty well and doesn’t look too bad except for a flattened fender, but the Pinto isn’t going anywhere.
“You guys were at the Tropicana tonight?” I ask for confirmation.
“Yeah, man. We saw you,” says the curly haired one. “We were gonna buy you a drink but….” The other three pimply faced guys sort of shrink behind him like a bunch of 12-year-olds. I yawn with impatience. “So, how about we don’t sue you if you go out with us?” He asks.
“All four of you?”
Certain they will never call anyway, I give the bold one my phone number.
But they do call. I get Sandy to agree to go with me but she backs out at the last minute. I go anyway. To get it over with. They take turns dancing with me but my effort is flat. They are all clearly nervous..having trouble with eye contact, fidgeting with their shirt collars, scratching their ears. We have scant conversation shouting through the blaring music. I learn that they graduated from high school just a few months ago.
I stir the remnants of my screwdriver and mention that I have to get home soon to relieve the babysitter. “Yes, I have two kids.” The needle skips on the record, and everybody in the disco turns to stare at me with that look, that disco crash look. The “date” ends abruptly. I drive myself home, the voice of Gloria Gaynor and “I will survive” playing in my head with just a little less conviction.
I never hear from them again. Didn’t expect to. Even if I had found them charming and attractive, so much more than a few years separate us. Their lives are college chemistry and spring break and new beginnings. Mine is diapers and food stamps and a slightly damaged Chamois Gold Oldsmobile.