(Inside me, it was...)


Ballroom Days Are Over


It was a party night for the personnel. We were going to a show and dinner afterwards. One of the babes who kept me somewhat sane during their stay at the prison suggested we go for a drink before hitting the theater. Did I agree! The other nurse would come as well, although she'd called in sick the day before. Anyway, it was Saturday, and nobody remembered Friday any more.

The place we worked at was a horror show. Our boss was a pathological liar, we just didn't know it yet. All we saw then was her obsession to cover up for the lady who wore the pants in the house: a 3oo-pound hippo with bleached hair that could have been a wig for all we knew, it never changed. Also, the happy hippo had an iron determination to bully everyone into line, via tears. She was the vice president of the place, emphasis on the first part of the title. She was the spitting image of Carla del Ponte, squared.


I had a date with two pretty women: one blonde, the other a brunette of late. They weren't just pretty, they were smart and funny. And married, naturally. I met with the blonde at the bus terminal. We waited for the brunette. That's when the evening took a morbid turn.

All the aging fatsos from work had decided on the same thing  we had. They rolled down the corridor of the terminal, saw us - no use in trying to hide any more. By the time the brunette showed up, a herd of tipsy women were yelling and giggling, drowning all hope of a peaceful moment with their sideshow.

So, the script was stepped on into a slimy pulp. I was recast in a role of a Cowboy Moses. Earlier, I had wished I could take the babes to a certain bar. Now the domestic animals just had to follow - or choose a place that suited their refined tastes better. I prayed for the latter.

I tried to shake the crowd on the way. They stayed. We all entered a watering hole on Fredrikinkatu.

"Is this, like, your regular haunt?" the hippo wailed, scanning the images of deceased rock stars on the wall.

"Yup," I answered. "Sort of."

She twisted her freshly painted lips of screaming red some. A hint of  the hippo smile, an endangered species unto itself. "Well," she said. "It figures."

The brunette had positioned herself in front of the jukebox. I dashed after her.

"The best jukebox in town," I said. "What are you looking for?"

We sat down under a framed photograph of Gram Parsons and Keith Richards stoned somewhere in Southern France, with Mick Jagger sulking in the corner. Even old Mick looked a bit like our hippo in that photo. We had left the Elders near the bar. I put a song of Motörhead on just to drive them out.

I took the photo from the wall and told the ladies about it. They wondered if I was allowed to do that, take the pic from the wall.

"Oh yeah," I replied, "I've done it a 100 times."

Sometimes, looking back, you see a moment of perfect harmony, when all is well. When, if all your wishes came true, you would add nothing to the moment. That scene with the blonde and the brunette, Gram and Keith in my hands, was it for me. The best moment in the 10 years I worked as a middle manager in that torture chamber they called a daycare center. That was it. There is nothing more to tell, really.

I put the picture back on the wall. Later on, it was stolen or thrown away. Anyway, it was nowhere to be found as the bar moved into a new address on Annankatu. Soon after, I stopped visiting that bar, and after that, any bar, altogether. There was no point to it any more.

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