I called Charles today to ask if he still had my Terry Foy tape. He does. I asked if we could get together for lunch.

He suggested instead that I join him Friday at the Jupiter club, where he will be meeting Yolanda and Laurel. Swing night, with a dance band.

"Bring what's-his name," he said, "Yolanda has been wanting to get him on the dance floor."

She had? "Ah... Brian wouldn't be able to come," I said. "I guess I'd better skip it without a partner."

"Hell no," he objected. "come anyway. I'll buy your cover."

"Well, okay, if I won't be in the way. But I'm paying for myself."

So if I haven't worked myself into depression by Friday, I should be able to enjoy myself.

On that note - I really haven't been getting depressed. Not the way I was a few months back. Upset, certainly. And I've found myself on the point of losing my temper with people at work, and apologizing, but I'm not spacing out or procrastinating like I was.

What I am finding is that I find writing painful. I'm leaving entries in my journal unfinished or completely unwritten. I could be writing about other things, like the constant over one hundred degree heat, but it seems fairly pointless. So instead of writing about trivialities, I avoid writing about Brian.


Yesterday was my night at the Jupiter Club with my friends from Scarborough Faire.

Charles met me at the door, and took me through to Yolanda and Laurel. They each gave me a hug. Yolanda, who's a redhead, was in a white backless dress, while blonde Laurel was in a more revealing bottle green outfit. I was wearing the pants and cami / sweater combo I bought just before my trip to BC; they seemed to approve.

"Charles was hoping you be in your costume," said Laurel.

Remembering my outfit, I felt my face getting warm. "Why?" I asked. "He isn't in his jester's outfit." He was wearing black pants, a black silk shirt and a dark red jacket with silver highlights. No, not like a jester. Not really.

"I wanted to see some more bellydancing." Then he grinned. "But I'll settle for swing. Shall we?

He held his hand out to me, and I was out on the dance floor before I had chance to think.

I need to digress here. I write a lot about dancing. It suits my stories well: it fits well into a developing relationship, it can be quite intimate. But personally I've never done more than basic social dancing. And the two step. I think I could say I was pretty comfortable with that, but even there, I've seen an advanced two step that was beautiful to watch, and that I'm sure no cowboy ever danced. So I'm well aware that there's more even to Country and Western dance than I know.

I've occasionally thought that learning to dance would be fun, but somehow I've never done it, nor spent any time with a guy who really knew how to dance.

Charles does. He let me get comfortable with the swing step, turned me a few times, then got progressively more adventurous, spinning me - and himself - this way and that, always communicating exactly what he wanted me to do. It was an exhilarating experience.

"Thank you," he said, with a small bow.

"That was great," I replied, "even if I could barely keep up."

"You did just fine," he argued. "I'll see you back with the girls, I need to talk to the band."

Yolanda and Laurel had bought me a beer. "Where's Brian?" asked Laurel, as I sat.

"He's... we're having problems."

"Terminal?" asked Yolanda. "What's his number?"

"God," said Laurel, "Listen to Ms. Sensitive."

"It's okay," I said. "Well, it's almost okay, but I'm not giving her his number."

"Ladies," yelled Charles, skipping up to our table, "shall we show off for Helen before the floor fills up?"

Laurel rolled her eyes, but joined Yolanda, each taking one of Charles's hands. The trio strode back out onto the dance floor.

I've never seen anything quite like what they did. Not in person, certainly, as they danced a routine for three. Sometimes Charles faced one, sometimes the other, doing more-or-less conventional steps and turns, always seeming to just happen to be in a perfect position after turning one girl to dance with tee other.

As they went on, though, it became more of a three-way dance than two two-ways, with simultaneous moves or an echo of one on the next beat.

They fished up with both girls twirling Charles at once, then turning each other to end with Charles locked between them.

I applauded as they returned. "That was amazing," I said.

"We put that together for a show," said Laurel, "then kept practicing because it looks good."

"It does that," I agreed. "Is it as hard as it looks?"

Laurel said "Yes", just as Yolanda said "Not really". They both shrugged.

"You do this professionally, then?" I asked.

"No," Charles replied, "though I teach a little. Helps offset having paid for my bad habits for years. Now..." he held his hand out to me.

"I can't, not after that," I objected.

"Don't be silly," said Yolanda. "You looked good out there. "

So I danced with Charles again, and this time he stopped a few times to show me something. He seemed pleased that picked up the moves so quickly.

After that I danced with several other guys, none of whom were in Charles's class. Charles's lead is so positive he can make an unfamiliar step feel easy, or compensate when you screw up. Then you dance with someone else and realize that you don't know at much as you thought you did.

So I'd dance with Charles again to firm up what he showed me. Or with Laurel or Yolanda, who are also pretty good teachers.

Let me digress again. When I saw Charles flirting with Laurel and Yolanda at Bev's, I was a little surprised. See, I'd formed the impression that he was gay. I wasn't sure why, it couldn't have been just that he was a friend of Bev's; most of her friends are straight, even if she isn't.

Well, I've figured it out. It's the way he moves. Soft, but precise, as though his limbs are not restricted to the same motions as the rest of us, but he chooses to confine himself to them anyway. He walks like a cat stalking.

Apparently that's what years and years of dancing can do. He says that dancing is just an extension of walking. For Charles, I think it would be more fair say that walking was dancing in a straight line.

And so much for judging by stereotypes.

So the upshot of the evening was that I not only had a great time - the best since Brian left - but I also learned a lot about dancing, which I should be able to use when I write. Certainly I want to do it more often.

My legs and upper arms were aching by we left at 1 a.m. I asked Charles for the tape.

"Sure," he said, "it's in the car. But why don't you follow us back for a drink? I'll just give it to you there."

Yolanda and Laurel tried to encourage me, but I wasn't ready for more partying.

"No, I don't think so," I said, "My muscles are complaining. I'd better get home. I'll take the tape and a raincheck."

Which I did, though I found myself regretting that I hadn't gone with them when I was trying to get to sleep, wishing I'd had Brian to dance with.


I got a reply from Jill. A long message, which I especially value, since I know how busy she is.

She was certainly surprised at the events. I wrote about. And she finds herself in a very odd position, since she loves her brother - but it seems that from reading my journal she's been having doubts about my relationship with Brian even before I did. And though her doubts are different than mine, I think they may have some truth.

Jill is not a big advocate of conventional relationships. She has some fairly harsh words about "Dating", especially. Which surprised me. I had to read her message a couple of times to understand what she was saying.

If I'm reading her correctly, Jill believes that "Dating" (I'm writing it with a capital everywhere, as she does) as a concept is part of the social conditioning which leads to the only completely acceptable relationship - heterosexual monogamous marriage. Not that she has a problem with heterosexuality or monogamy, it's the conditioning itself which she doesn't hold with.

Going out with a guy, sleeping with him, falling in love (I know from other exchanges that Jill is in currently in love with at least one guy) - these are fine, but Dating, as in seeing one guy exclusively, even if you don't know him well, seems limiting for both.

Dating is seeing someone in a socially acceptable setting specifically leading to a conventional relationship. You "Date" with the idea that one day you'll marry the guy. Sure, you don't see it that way, it's just "testing the waters", seeing a guy you like, whatever, but since marriage is the purpose of Dating, you've already made a commitment. To a guy you hardly know.

Then, when you find that the relationship isn't working out, ending it means divorce, or something that's very much the same.

I don't know how far I agree with her. Certainly I know of dating relationships with obvious problems which led to problem marriages. The idea that they felt that they had already made a commitment and were trying to avoid a "divorce" could make sense of why Rob and Pam married.

Anyway, the reason Jill went into all this is that what she was reading in the journal made her suspect that Brian and I may have fallen into the Dating trap. That we'd gone the conventional route without considering whether it was for us.

Again, I don't know how much I agree. Brian and I were in love. Even now, I'm having trouble believing that he probably won't be back. But we were definitely on a (to my current thought) ill-considered path to marriage. So perhaps she has a point.

The question is, what are the alternatives? If there is any chance of getting back together, that is. Could we stay together without a monogamous marriage-oriented relationship? And if so, would I need to kick Brian out into his own place?

It wouldn't be easy to do. But then, isn't that the problem, whether Jill's observations are or are not accurate, that I've been taking the easy way? Talking to Brian about my doubts would have been hard. Redefining our relationship would have been harder, so I took the easy path.

There was another theme to Jill's email. I'll get to it tomorrow.


Brian came over last night to pick up some more of his things. There's very little left, now. Mainly what he'll need when he gets another apartment. He still hasn't decided to do that, though. He can stay with Lee as long as he wants, and he doesn't seem quite ready to let go of what we had. I guess I should be pleased about that.

No, I am pleased about that. But I wish I knew where we were going.


OK, so it isn't "tomorrow". Back to Jill's email anyway.

Jill's been reluctant to share her concerns over monogamy and dating with me because it would be easy to misinterpret her views.

As I'm sure you've figured out by what I say about her and from her fiction, Jill's a liberal-minded girl. She's certainly not opposed to conventional relationships, but she sees a danger in unquestioning acceptance of them.

One pole is monogamy / matrimony, of course. Another is polyamory. Now, it will sound odd for me to write about polyamory being conventional, and I don't know from Jill's email that she would consider it so, but in thinking about what she has to say on the subject, I'm inclined to see the same forces at work. Jill didn't want me to think of her as promoting polyamory, because she has had her fill of what she calls "Shiny Poly People". I love the phrase, and I know exactly what she means.

Polyamory is loving more than one person simultaneously. It isn't a synonym for group sex; although intimacy can include that, it can also consist of multiple pairings. Polyamorous relationships can be of one or both sexes. Ideally, a polyamorous relationship is a community of people who love one another.

Practically, though, it's usually a grouping held together by mutual jealousy, where being in a relationship is more important than being happy or comfortable with each other. Polyamorous groups tend to the dramatic, ongoing soap opera-like confrontations, devastating breakups. Imagine friends of the husband and friends of the wife after a separation, and especially the conflicts you feel if you're a friend of both. Now imagine that all of those friends are living together during and after the divorce.

So "Shiny Poly People" layer a false cheer over the constant drama, and proselytize polyamory. That's why I think Jill's phrase is so perfect, because they seem so artificial, so plastic.

There may well be people in well-balanced polyamorous relationships, but that hasn’t been Jill's experience. I don't know any polyamorous groups personally, but I have seen the concept often on the net, complete with drama and disaster.

I don't think Jill needs to worry that I'll turn into a "Shiny Poly Person". But I wish I knew that there could be a reasonable compromise between polyamory and monogamy.