Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Great Equalizer

It was Homeless Karaoke Night last Wednesday again. I should stop calling it that, I think the official name for it is Karaoke Coffee Club. I wonder if the homeless people consider the word “homeless” a slur of some sort. “Locationally challenged”? “in life transition”? Who knows.

11:00 church has decided to make our partnership with Karaoke Coffee Club down at the Central City Community Outreach a regular monthly thing, which is good, because again, I’m sure there’s something I’m supposed to be learning here. And as soon as I walked in to the place on Wednesday (to the booming sounds of the MC exhorting the crowd that “God wants you to retain your sexual PURITY!”) I was amazed at how many of the faces I remembered from last time. I hadn’t talked to these people, and who knows if they remember me, but I remember them.

And it kinda became clear, the whole relationship approach, and why it’s important to continue coming back. Because it’s based on recognition. I can smile in recognition at these people, and they may or may not smile back, but there’s no way you can be of use to anybody if you DON’T keep coming back. You get used to them, they get used to you. And maybe then they’ll open up. I’m not the type of person that’s gonna plop down next to them and say, “SO! What’s on your mind! Tell me everything! I’m here to listen!” I wouldn’t do that even if they weren’t homeless. I am as non-talking as they come. But I can sit. I can smile. I can clap for you, even if your rendition of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is nowhere in the neighborhood of on-tempo. I can be your Karaoke Cheerleader (I was about to say Karaoke Klapper, but that just sounds wrong, wrong, wrong.)

I’m happy to report that there were no marriage proposals this time around. I tried to smile and be gracious and scrub the pizza pans, maintaining as little eye contact as possible, and yet being friendly about it. Look at them, smile for two seconds, move on. Yes, I acknowledge you as a person of dignity. Please don’t propose to me, and please don’t hate me for not wanting you to propose to me.

I did have a goal for tonight, and that goal involved the Electric Slide. There are two mainstays to Karaoke Coffee Club. The first one is the James Brown impersonator, who sings “I Feel Good” every week. The pants leg of his costume came undone tonight, but he paid it no mind and kept going, holding up his pants leg the entire time. The man is committed to his art, that’s for sure.

The second mainstay is the Electric Slide, which is done around 9:30 every Wednesday. It’s done to Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” and one of the guys gets up and does every single word while a mob in the middle does the Electric Slide.

And I love to dance, actually. I never get to go out dancing as much as I like to these days, which is a real shame seeing as how it is Los Angeles. Roomie Jekyll used to get a group to go clubbing at one of the gay bars in West Hollywood, and that was always fun (until guys starting hitting on me THERE. Honestly, people, if a gal can’t get away from being hit on in a GAY BAR, is there no hope? No hope at all? It’s the ass, I know it. My ass is one of God’s more unusual gifts to me, because I always get comments on it. How wonderful, that something that brings me such attention is something I can’t even flippin’ SEE.)

I’m a decent dancer, (just ask my Latin Cardio dance class from last year), can pick steps up pretty quickly, and for God’s sake it’s the Electric SLIDE. Who DOESN’T know how to do that one!?

So when they did the call for it, I grabbed one of the other 11:00am church attenders, Dexter, and forced him to go up there with me. Dexter had no idea what was going to happen, because this was his first time down there, but he’s one of those, “We’re doing what? Huh. Okay, cool. No, I can’t dance. But cool.”

And it’s FUN! I would never do the electric slide anywhere else, kinda like my long standing rule of No Chicken Dances At Weddings, but here it’s fine. Dexter is really giving it his best shot, he’s not dancing so much as he is stepping it out, but he’s not the least bit embarrassed about it. I’m deftly avoiding the TV monitor AND the microphone stand, and no matter which way you’re facing (and in this dance, you’re facing all four directions some of the time), you’re in the middle of this most unusual crowd.

And it’s here that it hits me that the Electric Slide is the great equalizer. You’re surrounded on all sides by the most motley of mishmashes. Normal people, not normal people. People who can dance, people who can’t dance. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping in a bed tonight. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. What matters is that we’re all dancing TOGETHER, we’re all doing the steps TOGETHER. There is no me. There is no you. There’s just us. All of us.

And we’re all going STRAIGHT. TO. THE WILD WILD WEST! WE GOING STRAIGHT! TO! THE WILD WILD WEST! (wild wild west. When I’m walkin’ thro’ the wild wild west.)

As the song winds up, and Dexter and I are making our way back to our seats, one of the Homeless Guy yells at me “She got rhythm! She got rhythm!” Yes, the White Chick can dance, dammit. I now have a bunch of witnesses.


RTatum said...

Well, heck, Amy--I always assumed you could dance. (The ass we knew about.)

Another incredibly lovely, funny piece! Actually...could pare it down into a rather nice monologue if ya wanted.

J said...

I have a confession to make...

I can't do the electric slide.

And I'm just fine with that. No, I'm not interested in learning it, either.