The decor in Sam's Tavern doesn't scream gay : coin-operated pool tables on one side, carpet-covered benches around a little dance floor on the other. Tyler and his date play several games of pinball on the machine that's free if you know where to thump its side. Despite his distaste for drinking, Ty tosses down two gin and tonics in a half-hour. He isn't planning to rob the corner grocery or blow up a bridge. He just wants to dance with a man. When Tyler was a boy, he'd seen women polka in pairs Sunday afternoons on Dairyland Jubilee. Men in his experience never waltzed or two-stepped together. Now he watches the dancers at Sam's and waits for the alcohol to find his defiance. When Tina Turner's sultry song begins to billow from the jukebox, Ty sets aside his glass and follows his date under the glitter ball. His movements at first are more squirm than sway but with every twitch a Berlin Wall is coming down. Whatever you want to do, the singer insists, is alright with me, and by last call Tyler's relaxed and happy under the floating flecks of light. It's not just his body that's dancing.
Copyright 2011 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of Our Lives magazine,
and in 2013 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by Thiago Barletta at unsplash.com