LIFE DURING WARTIME
There was a moment in time, maybe only a couple of months, when “Saturday Night Fever” was cool. A heady summer, when Punk music had yet to arrive and the Bee Gees were the only game in town. It was this moment when, failing to find a band to become a star in, I took to the local dance floor to show my star quality. Of course, this could have been a disaster… but for the fact that I had been to dance classes in my youth, and though tap and ballet were not de rigueur in the flashing lights of a disco, they did give me the edge on most of the other male dancers. There was not a lot of competition amongst the guys to be fair, as most men in those days stood on the sidelines and drank until the last three slow songs, where they all moved in, trying to score a woman to walk home at the end of the night.
I did not want to drink, I wanted to dance. As I was still quite shy, I would drink four pints early doors, before the disco started. Then I would dance for hours, or until a crap song came on… and in that eventuality I would sit at a table of four or five girls, who were mates.
On this particular night, I had been invigorated by a long session of my favourite songs to dance to… Get up James Brown, a 12″ version of rasputin by Boney M, which had a really great middle eight break that gave you a real buzz. Then the mood crashed, something without a decent groove was put on by the incompetent deejay, and I went back to my table and drank what was left of my pint. Opposite me sat a woman I didn’t know. I shouted into the ear of the girl next to me.
“Don’t know, I think she’s a bit pissed.”
She was an attractive woman, but she looked older than us. A lot older, we were all under-age drinkers, nothing more than seventeen. In those days, nobody cared if you were under-age just as long as you had the money to pay for your drink. I smiled at her and she smiled back. Slightly weirdly, as if she was enjoying her own joke. I frowned, was she taking the piss? As a Seventeen year old boy, I was always wary of people making fun of me. One’s ego was a self-inflated balloon, and easily deflated. I got up to refill my drink, on a whim I asked the woman if she wanted a drink too.
She smiled that sad smile again and said yes please. She got her purse out and offered a pound note to me,
“Get yourself one too.”
“I asked you if you wanted a drink, not to buy me one.” This was a period where the man expected to buy a woman’s drink, unless you were out with female friends, who would then just buy their own.
She pushed the pound not into my hand, and said that I could buy the next one. She asked for a Brandy and Babycham, which was a popular drink amongst women who wanted to get drunk quickly. Babycham was a sparkling perry, so it was a double bubble type situation.
I went to the bar, bought and pint and her drink and came back with change… Ahh those were the days!
I came back to the table and sat down beside her. She looked very exciting from this angle, she had on a short little black dress, and I could see evidence of stocking tops. To a provincial boy, with limited sexual experience, stockings were considered the Nirvana of erotica. She saw my gaze and then gave that sad rueful smile again. It was a definite mood chiller.
” What’s wrong?” I shouted into her ear, conversation rendered difficult due to the decibel levels of the music.
“You seem like a nice boy, you don’t want to be wasting your time on an old woman like me.” She slurped her drink with heavy intent. She obviously just wanted to get wasted. I searched for something clever to say… but being slightly out of my depth, I drank my beer.
“You look very attractive to me.” I shouted. she looked perplexed for a second and then twigged I was coming on to her… She through her head back and laughed loudly. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I felt crest-fallen. She saw my look and laughed even louder. But the laughter dried in her throat and the tears came harder.
“Listen, I’m sure you are a real catch, you’re a lovely young man, but I’m old enough to be your mother…”
“No you’re not, what are you, 25?” I played a line. Was that too flattering? I was sure older women must like to be mistaken as younger. She looked at me hard. Her words were slightly slurred.
” You’re a wee chancer aren’t you, I bet you get all the wee girls wetting their knickers, don’t you?”
I was in uncharted waters, this lady was playing a game I didn’t understand, but she was exciting me and scaring me in equal measure.
“It’s true, you don’t look any older than twenty five, just saying like…”
“And you look Fifteen tops, You want to get me arrested as a cradle snatcher?”
“I’m old enough.” She placed her hand on my fly. She smiled at my stirring ardour.
“I feel your pain son, but I’m just a sad old woman, married to an awful two-timing cunt, and I only wanted to feel desirable, and you have done that for me, thank you…You’re awful sweet.” She kissed the top of my sweaty head. She drunk up and then stood up, wobbly on her red stilettos. I stood up quickly,
“Let me walk you home.” I said.
She grabbed my arm.
“Ok soldier, you can walk me home… But don’t expect anything.”
We walked outside into the summer’s evening, twilight lolled across the sky like western backdrop, pinks and purples spread across the yellowing night. We walked away from the Pub/disco and made our way through the park. She didn’t appear to be quite as drunk as she had before…Was that a ruse? She lent against me, and suddenly disavowed me of that impression. She threw up over my shoes. Nice. We reached some picnic tables down by the stream in the park and I bade her too sit down. I gave her my sweat covered handkerchief, which I carried to wipe the excess sweating caused in the heat of the disco. She wiped her mouth. I took a packet of trebor mints from my pocket and offered her one. She took it. She smiled wanly at me.
“What a good little Boy Scout you are, prepared for any eventuality aren’t you?”
“Just luck, I guess. Lucky for you, I carry a hankie because I don’t like to sweat and the mints are so my mum can”t smell the beer on my breath when I get home.” She looked at me weirdly again. Tears welled in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, you don’t deserve me do you… Just out for a good time and you get stuck with a nutty old woman.” I stroked the back of her hair.
“You’re a very pretty nutty old woman.” She pushed away my hand.
” No, none of that! Go! Go back to your disco, go back to your pretty young girls.”
“I’m walking you home.”
She stood up determinedly. She towered over me by a good four inches, She slapped my face hard.
“Look sonny, I tried to be nice, But just fuck off okay?” I rubbed my face. Unsure of what I had done to offend her.
“Can I have a kiss?” I asked sheepishly. She laughed. A full no holds barred kind of laugh. She bowed her head towards me and kissed me chastely on the top of my head.
“Now go, I’ll be alright from here, you go on home to your Mummy.”
I walked away. She began walking a different way. I looked back. She did not. I wasn’t sure what kind of event this had been. My cheek stung. She looked kind of small as she walked off into the distance. I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for me too. I never got to touch those stocking tops or suspenders. Yet, later in my bed, as I lay thinking about her, I imagined touching those stocking tops and suspenders, and in my mind the weirder aspects of the liaison were lost in the overall eroticism of what I had imagined.
Now, in my dotage, I can appreciate the maelstrom of her emotions, and I’m glad she ended up with me that night… because I was mostly harmless. She could have ended up with much worse people than that.
This is another nearly true event from my life. An event whose memory was triggered by this poem
https://kaiaracquel.blog/ one night stand.