That night I kissed three men within three hours and they were all in the same two rooms and at least two of them wanted to take me home but I couldn’t because I had my period.
I had first danced with Ulrich my second night at Milonga Popular. He enjoyed feeling me in his arms.
But there were many men of whom I could say that. I forgot about him.
Time passed, and eventually I returned to Popular. I danced my warm-up tanda with Spidey. I looked for Pedram but he was putting the moves on an adolescent who couldn’t dance….
I went to the loo in the interpass between the traditional and nuevo rooms, and had to curse my lover Gökhan, the nuevo dj. He was playing my favourite song. So I was missing the chance to dance to it. Gökhan’s music pulled me into the nuevo room, as always.
Along came Ulrich, smiling. “Hello Jordana.” I was embarrassed that he remembered me and I didn’t remember him….
Things got steamy.
This was allowed at Popular.
Things got steamier.
His hands grabbed my hair. I was curious to find out else they would do if left unchecked.
I tried to remember that Gökhan was there and Pedram could walk by at any minute and where was Ugur anyway, but decided, they all called themselves polyamorists, if they couldn’t hack it that was on them.
Ulrich kissed me right there on the dance floor.
My resistance had been weakened by miasma of pheromones that pervaded the air.
We danced. He moaned.
I told my inner critic to shut up. Here was a man who knew what he wanted and what he wanted was me.
“Look at me, look into my eyes, I want to see that flood of warmth and affection,” he said, many times. I did so gladly at first but soon it got boring. And red-flaggy.
He said, “it will be so wonderful, cooking together, making love, caring for each other.”
The idea of someone whose first thought was about spending time together socially, not in bed, and not dancing, was attractive.
But I had already had my family. I was sick of house drudgery. Sick of providing unpaid labour and time and shouldering the load and carrying the burden. I didn’t want to cook!
But I liked the idea of someone who got excited about caring, separate from sex.
I suspected him of being an armpit fetishist. He kept doing some move that forced me to draw my arms up in the air, and then he kept getting stuck at pit level and staying there.
But then he’d say, “I want to throw you against a wall and make you scream with pleasure,” and I would think, “well, I haven’t gotten laid for a whole week by now and that does sound nice.”
He got clingy and needy. I wanted to hunt down Pedram, and not have to deal with this guy.
I jumped around the milonga, trying to be visible to the people whom I wanted to see me and yet invisible to him.
We sat together. I had already told him three times to go dance with somebody else and let me cool off. He said no, he wanted to sit here spending time with me.
We exchanged Family Truths. “I’m a bad dad,” he said.
So I assumed he must be a good dad, because all parents think they’re bad parents and it takes self-awareness to have the guilty conscience required to open a conversation like that.
His son was 16 and lived with his mom. He gives them nothing. When I heard this I thought, “your life must be a hell of self-hatred, and times must be shit, because only a man on the brink of death would not support his child.”
He sees his son rarely. “When he was little he loved his mom more, he was all about her, so I just left them,” he said.
I assumed he wasn’t telling me most of the story, and this could not have been the reason for breaking up a family. Because only a monster could be so cruel. And he was a human being in front of me, so he could not be a monster, I assumed
But later, I realised I had forgotten: “when people tell you about themselves, listen, because they often tell the truth.”
Later a single-mum friend pointed out that instead of taking on one single night of child-care duty and giving mom a night off, this guy was loafing at a milonga.
He said, it was a good thing he had no responsibilities toward them, because even being responsible for himself was a huge burden and often too much to handle.
I had to live through this story in order to learn from it.
At the time I thought, “yes, adulting is so hard. And the hardest part is that we are not allowed to admit this out loud. How refreshing that someone has the balls to say it.”
He was a broke massage therapist who admitted he was terrible at selling himself and didn’t have enough work.
I finally escaped Ulrich, but he kept finding me, and he had a lovely embrace, so I caved and let him dance with me. I would not do so today.
Hopeful men saw us dancing and tried their luck with me, multiple times. They were surprised to be turned down.
After having received invitations for the beds of Ulrich and Gökhan, and turning them down, I marched home, mulling over what Ulrich had said.
One of the first things he said, was that he loved all this affection, he needed it, he was “starved for this kind of attention.”
There is something about announcing a basic human need that makes the hearer curdle. I have no idea why “I have needs” gets heard as “I’m needy,” and I have no idea why being needy is the ultimate social offense. But hearing that he was “starved for attention” made me want to say, “in that case I’m leaving,” and walk away.
This made me hate myself.
So I kept dancing with him, so I wouldn’t hate myself any more.
There’ve been a thousand times when I have longed to say to people that I was starved for attention and needed affection. I needed to be touched. I have even said exactly that, more than once, in the past. That was why we all went to milongas. How could I punish someone for saying the thing we were all feeling?
The next day he emailed me. He had crafted a well-designed and solidly-built Jordana Compartment in his head and now he wanted to fill it (with his penis).
He started by complaining that I did not have a phone number on my card and he didn’t like writing emails. He asked to see me in the next few days, and said he wanted to feel me and kiss me again and love and kisses and stuff.
I wrote back, feeling suffocated, saying, let’s have lunch some time next week. He wrote back saying that was too far away and he needed it to be sooner, and plus he was poor and had no money to go out, so, we could cook together.
I felt frustrated and literally hungry. Falafel in my Kiez was .50 cents, lahmacun was 1.20, and for the big spenders, a döner was 2.50. Making me feel like a housewife, having to help shoulder the load and suffer the burden, was not seductive. The prospect of throwing away my precious time, commuting to his house to do hard work for him, and then letting him fuck me, made me admit that this would only ever be about him. I was just a resource to be sucked dry.
I ignored the email.
He emailed me again the next day, saying if I wanted to come over and make dinner with him, I could.
I ignored that email too.
Instead I went dancing and met a brilliant Ukrainian with whom I made soul-crunchingly important art.