Pinch me because I must be dreaming. Today we have another amazing addition to the Blogger Compilation Project better known as F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES (I know, I know, the asterisk fools no one, but I’m trying to class my blog up, okay?)
Anyway, this little bit o’ tome comes from none other than our very own Beach Bunny Sandy Floyd, better known to Blogworld as Sandylikeabeach. Her take on the classic Thumbelina is as witty, clever and brilliant as this tiny writing powerhouse is herself. Please to enjoy, A TINY THUMBELINA TALE.
It was a dark and stormy night. Not really, but I always wanted to start the story of my life with that line. I have no idea if it was a dark and stormy night on the night of my birth or if I was even born at night. I was just a baby so I have no clear memories of the event. I’m not even sure I should start at the beginning. So let’s begin again.
I’m special. Well, as special as a person can be in a world populated by people, each one thinking he or she is special. Of course, if we’re all special, then special isn’t really special. It’s ordinary. It is the normal order of things. But I’m the Abby Normal of ordinary though my name isn’t Abby.
I wish it was Abby. Christ! I got stuck with an awful name. I swear to God, if there is one, that if I ever have children I will not stick them with some cutesy or super esoteric or just plain fucking weird name. And the lovely name that was bestowed on me? Thumbelina. What the fuck? Who names a kid Thumbelina? What the hell is a Thumbelina? I loathed my name. I shortened it to Tina. However, there was always that one teacher who insisted on calling every child by his or her proper name, no nicknames allowed. And of course, the first day of school each year my embarrassing name would be called out and I would have to acknowledge it and then say, “But I just go by Tina.” Then the more compassionate teachers would make a note on their rosters but the damage was done. The more obnoxious poets among my class liked to chant “Tiny Tina, Thumbelina” whenever I happened by.
Of course, even without the embarrassing weird name, I still would have been teased because of the tiny thing. Just as it’s not easy being green, it’s not easy being tiny and tiny is what I am though I’m not green and tiny, just tiny. Though now that I think about it, if green is the color of your species, then how hard can it be to be green? And if tiny is the size of your species, then being tiny wouldn’t be hard either, but tiny is not the size of my species so being tiny is not easy except that it is easy to be overlooked and easy to be treated like a child and easy to be thought of as younger than you really are which will be nice when I get older.
I am a very small person though not dwarf small, and unlike most dwarfs, I am exquisitely proportioned. But if other people didn’t feel compelled to state the obvious by telling me how small I am, I would rarely think about my lack of height unless I needed to get something off the top shelf at the grocery store. Of course, I’m sure one of the functions of the lowest shelf is to serve as a step for those of us who are vertically challenged to reach the stuff we need that is always on the top shelf. And I will admit to always being surprised when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or some sort of reflective surface standing next to a normal sized person. Honest to God, again, if there is one, I look like a miniature person.
So despite all my name loathing during my formative years living on a farm with my foster mother after being abandoned as an infant with a note pleading for someone to take care of “our little Thumbelina” thus dooming me to a lifetime of name loathing and forever linking me to a shadowy group of people with weird names, my feelings about my name took a somewhat nuanced turn. Translation: I figured out how to cash in.
Upon my successful completion of high school, I knew college was a financial impossibility. I also knew that I did not want to spend the best years of my life waiting on people be it as a waitress or a retail worker. Cubicle life sounded no better. So having no moral compass, or any compass at all, I decided to put my decidedly good looks, flexibility and passion for my passion to good use. I became a tiny stripper and Thumbelina was my tiny stripper name even though that name is not tiny and doesn’t often, or possibly ever, come up in that internet what is your stripper name thing. But I was dancing and dancing made me happy. It also made me money.
Now some people might think stripping is demeaning and they have valid arguments and indeed, I would agree it is demeaning if the stripping is involuntary. However, if stripping is a personal choice, there is power in that choice. And pardon the obvious use of the word, but stripped of its moral questions, at its heart, it is art expressed in a very specific form of dance. The best strippers embrace this. I know I did, and I was one of the best. I even won the International Pole Dance Championship a couple of years ago. Though to be fair, Miss Australia probably would have won if she hadn’t had that embarrassingly awkward slide down the pole. A little lube goes a long way.
You might not think that a strip club would be the best place to meet the love of your life and before it happened to me, I would have agreed with you, but then it happened to me though the actual meeting thing took place in a coffee shop across the street from the club, but that first sighting was in the club. He was part of a bachelor party though not the part that was The Bachelor. He was just one of The Bachelor’s buddies helping The Bachelor celebrate one of his last nights of bachelorhood.
He didn’t look like the usual regulars, but boy, did he look good. He had this tall, dark and handsome bad boy with the scruffy beard thing going on even though he wasn’t particularly tall or dark, but he was definitely handsome. And he had that scruffy beard thing which looks great on a male model, though male might be redundant because no one ever thinks a scruffy beard would look good on a female model, but I’m not typically a fan of the scruffy facial hair decision. It’s not even a decision. It’s a mark of indecision. Make a choice, already. Grow a beard or shave, but damn, it looked good on him.
I could have looked at him all night. I didn’t, because I also wanted my usual haul of tips and it’s not just the dancing that does the trick, you have to make eye contact and smile at everyone to make the most tips. But I did glance his way every now and then, and each time, he was looking at me, but not in the way the usual strip club attendee does. When our eyes would meet, he smiled ever so slightly. It was warm and sweet and it felt like we were the only two people in the room.
After my shift that night, a couple of the other dancers and I headed to the coffee shop for our usual after work confab. We settled in a booth and that’s when I noticed him. He was at the counter and he was alone. I’ve never been a big fan of fate, but fate might be a fan of me, because as fate would have it, Amber’s phone rang.
“Ugh, that was the sitter,” she said as she returned her phone to her handbag. “I’ve got to get home.”
“Nothing serious, I hope.”
“No. Jason has a touch of a fever so I need to get home. See you later, TIna.”
“You going, too?” I asked Nina.
“Yeah, she’s my ride tonight. Good night, TIna.”
“Bye NIna, bye Amber. Hope Jason’s feeling better soon.”
The girls had no sooner walked out the door when the scruffy beard guy appeared at my table.
“Mind if I join you? I’ve never been a fan of eating alone.” His voice was like velvet – soft and smooth. A voice that could be on the radio, maybe a classic rock station or maybe even smooth jazz although much of what smooth jazz stations play isn’t even jazz, it’s more yesterday’s pop and soft rock.
“Um,” I hesitated because it’s usually not a good idea to get involved with customers, but he was good looking and he smelled good, or maybe that was the bacon cooking in the kitchen, but he looked and seemed to smell good enough to eat and I was hungry.
“It’s just a little food and conversation,” he said. And then he smiled.
“Yeah, company would be great.” I smiled back.
He slid into the booth across from me and smiled that smile. “I’m Cooper.”
I wasn’t sure if Cooper was his first name or last name, so I asked. My foster mom always told me I shouldn’t ask too many personal questions too soon, but how else do you find out stuff that you’d be wondering about and all that wondering would keep you from being able to concentrate on the conversation. And I was going to need all the help with concentration because I wasn’t really thinking about having a conversation with him, if you catch my drift.
“It’s my first name. It’s a little unusual but I like it.”
“It’s a great name. I’m..”
“Thumbelina. The tiny dancer.”
“I go by TIna.”
“How’d you come up with Thumbelina for a stage name?”
“It’s my real name. And you thought Cooper was unusual.”
He laughed and his laugh was even better than his smile. “Well, I think Thumbelina is a beautiful name. It rhymes with ballerina and you are an exquisitely beautiful dancer.”
He had me at ‘exquisitely,’ or maybe he had me at ‘mind if I join you.’ It doesn’t really matter when he had me, much like it doesn’t matter when the heart finds love, only that it does and mine did that night. We talked for hours or it seemed that way. At last, we noticed the night was easing into dawn and we made our way to the parking lot. He asked me where I was parked and I pointed to my car.
“I’m right next to you,” he said.
“That’s your bike? It’s gorgeous.” Though I didn’t add ‘just like you,’ but I was thinking it.
“Yeah, you like bikes?”
“I’ve never been on one but it looks like fun.”
“It’s just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.”
“I always thought that about dancing, but of course, I don’t always keep my clothes on for that.”
He laughed. “Here’s my number. Call me and we’ll go for a ride. And you can keep your clothes on the whole time.”
I smiled at him and climbed in my car. “It was nice meeting you, Cooper.”
“See you soon, tiny dancer.”
A few days later I had my first bike ride. I climbed on the bike behind him and as I wrapped my arms around his waist I said, “I think this is going to be the best part of the ride.”
He laughed. “Not by a long shot. Hang on.”
And off we went. He was partially right. Holding on to him wasn’t the best part, but it wasn’t the best part by a long shot. It was a very close second. The ride was exhilarating. Sitting behind him, looking over his shoulder, the wind in my face was a great feeling. We spent the afternoon on country roads, stopping here and there to admire the scenery or grab a bite to eat.
It was just like one of those Hollywood movie montages the writers employ because they suck at writing dialogue. And it did feel like one of those too good to be true but wouldn’t it be lovely if it could happen to me Hollywood scenarios right up until it turned into a killer zombie movie but without the killer zombies, but Killer Bees instead. But not African killer bees, but the biker gang. I know it sounds like a silly name, but the backs of their jackets have this evil looking killer bee and they used a sinister typeface for the name, so it doesn’t just sound silly, it looks silly, too. But I kept my silly thoughts to myself.
We ran into the Killer Bees at Roady Toadies, a little dive bar on the outskirts of town. Of course, we didn’t know the bikes we saw outside meant there were Killer Bees inside. In fact, Cooper said he recognized one of the bikes as belonging to a friend of his. We walked inside and let our eyes adjust to the light after being in the bright sun. Cooper spotted his friend and we headed over to where he was sitting.
“Jack, this is Thumbelina. Thumbelina, this is my good friend, Jack Sparrow.”
“Like the Johnny Depp character?”
“No,” Jack said. “I had the name first but I like to think he got his character’s inspiration from me.”
Cooper laughed and said, “I think he got the inspiration from Keith Richards.”
I smiled at Jack. “Nice to meet you, Jack.”
“Likewise. Thumbelina, huh? That’s not a name you hear everyday.”
“No, it’s not,” I replied, except that I was hearing it more today then I usually do and right about then, a loud voice behind me bellowed my name again.
“Thumbelina! I’d recognize that ass anywhere even covered in jeans.”
I turned around and there was the biggest Killer Bee I had ever seen. Of course, it was the first Killer Bee I had ever seen so thinking it was the biggest one ever was a big mistake. Behind the loudmouth Killer Bee, were more Killer Bees and they were even bigger than Mr. Bigmouth which was how I was coming to think of him. Mr. Bigmouth didn’t look familiar and I had never seen men attired in Killer Bee attire in the Pussycats club. But he was looking at me, the way hungry men look at a grilled steak.
And before I could reply, Mr. Bigmouth looked around at his buddies and said, “Boys, this is your lucky day. We have a celebrity in our midst. This here itty bitty thing is Thumbelina, stripper extraordinaire!” Then he looked at me and said, “I watch your World Pole Dance routine on YouTube all the time.” He glanced at Cooper and added, “She won the championship a couple of years ago. You know that?”
“No, I didn’t, but I can’t say I’m surprised. She is quite extraordinary.”
If I hadn’t already fallen in love with Cooper, I would have right then especially since he didn’t know about how Miss Australia should have won except for that embarrassing slip or in her case, slide down the pole.
But Mr. Bigmouth wasn’t done. “Why don’t you dance for us Thumbelina? Just climb right up on the bar and show us what you got.”
“You can see me dance at Pussycats,” I replied in an even tone.
“I want to see you dance right now!”
Cooper stepped between us, “Leave the lady alone.”
“She ain’t no lady.”
And then Cooper slugged Mr. Bigmouth.
“I’m not a fan of double negatives either, but I usually refrain from hitting the illiterate,” I said to him.
“I would have slugged him even if he was grammatically correct. No one gets away with saying you’re not a lady.”
But before we could congratulate ourselves on just how clever our repartee was becoming, all hell broke loose. It was the three of us, okay two of us because I’m not much good in a fight and I’m really tiny, against all those Killer Bees. Fists were flying, glass was breaking and I was ducking. I could feel strong arms around me pulling me backwards and then everything went dark.
I wasn’t unconscious, just locked in a closet. I banged on the door, but I guess Cooper couldn’t hear me over all the noise of the fight and last I saw, he and Jack seemed to be on the losing end. After what seemed like an hour but was probably much shorter because everything seems to take longer when you’re locked inside a closet, I heard what sounded like a gunshot. My heart stopped, but not because I got shot but because I was afraid of who might have. I could hear voices but I couldn’t make out what was being said or who was talking. Then it got quiet again, so I started banging on the door and screaming to be let out.
The door opened and a rather mousey looking woman was standing there.
“It’s all right, dear. Toadie put you in there. He thought you’d be safer in there.” She smiled at me and there was kindness in her eyes.
“Toadie is a real person?” I couldn’t believe how many people had parents that made such bad choices when naming their kids.
The mousey woman laughed. “Oh, he’s real all right, but Toadie is a nick name he picked up when he was a roadie for Z Z Top back in the day. I’m Mrs. Fields, Toadie’s mother. I help out in the kitchen.”
I refrained from asking her for a chocolate chip cookie and instead asked about my friends.
“Well, they’re a little banged up, but no permanent damage. Come and see for yourself.”
She led me through the kitchen and into the bar. I spotted Toadie right away because he looked like a toad, kind of like how that senator looks like a turtle. Toadie was holding a shotgun but when he saw me, he smiled and said, “Sorry to stick you in the closet like that, but a bar fight is no place for such a pretty little lady.”
“No worries, Toadie. Thanks for looking out for me.” I was looking around for Cooper and Jack. “Where are my friends?”
“They’re in the john cleaning themselves up. Those Killer Bees did a number on them, but as badass as they think they are when you point a shotgun in their general direction and let it discharge, they run away like little girls.”
I laughed. Then I heard a noise behind me.
“She does have an incredible ass, Coop.”
I turned around and flew into Cooper’s arms. “Everything about her is incredible,” Cooper replied.
“I think I’m in love,” I sighed.
He smiled at me, “I know I am.”
Jack said his goodbyes and left the bar. Cooper looked at me, “Ready to ride off into the sunset to that happily ever after place?”
“I’ve always wanted to do that. Especially if that place has a bed big enough for two.”
He held my hand as we walked out of the bar. We climbed on his bike and he looked back at me.
“Too bad it’s midnight,” he said.
“Midnight will do.”
As a kid growing up I had lots of crushes on boys and sometimes men, most of them actors on television. One of the earliest crushes I had was on a certain Latin actor named Erik Estrada, better known as Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello on a little show called CHiPs.
Anyway, what I remember most about that time were my prepubescent fantasies of a chance romantic encounter with Senor Estrada. Seeing that he is Puerto Rican, I had always imagined learning to speak Spanish in order to impress him when we finally met. I envisioned a mall scenario where my bilingual ability would impress him enough to set me apart from all the other adoring fans. Enough for him to invite me into his van (Note to all you youngsters out there- all sexy guys in the 80’s had vans. And mustaches, but that’s another blog post). So for my weekly offering to Romantic Monday I bring you:
AN ODE TO ERIK ESTRADA
I stand in a line that stretches the length of the mall, sipping my Orange Julius, waiting patiently for the Latin object of my preteen desire to sign my copy of Dynamite Magazine. I size up the competition standing between me and my love while I wait. I count ten blonde heads in all.
They must have known someone to get in line in front of me, I tell myself in consolation. I’ve been here since five a.m. goddamn it. No one loves Erik Estrada more than I do.
I do little to hide my glee as I watch girl after eager girl dismissed with an autograph but without a second glance. Little by little I inch closer to the man who I am convinced will someday make me his bride. Anticipating a kiss, I pop a stick of Zebra Stripe gum into my mouth as I wait patiently for him to notice me.
Finally I reach him- sitting behind a table, his glorious dark hair feathered just so. My heart races as I pass him my magazine, intentionally brushing my hand against his as I do. He doesn’t look up as I ask for his autograph, and I can tell he thinks I am just another groupie only interested in the celebrity that surrounds him.
Oh Erik, my love, I am determined to prove you wrong!
He heaves a heavy sigh as he scribbles his name and without looking up says, “Is this it?”
He slowly raises his eyes to mine. We stare at each other for what seems like forever…the two of us locked in a gaze of pure intimacy.
“You speak Spanish?” he finally asks, clearly impressed with my dedication to learning all that I can about him.
I answer clearly. “Si.”
In an instant he’s up and around the table. He grabs my hand and pulls me quickly through the crowd of jealous teenage rejects to the exit doors that empty into the alley behind the mall. There awaits a van, his van, the site of my soon-to-be epic deflowering.
He slides the door open and hops in, reaching a hand out to pull me inside. Once I’m in he slides the door closed and tells me to make myself comfortable. I lay down on a purple silk bed built into the rear of the van while he twists the cap off a wine cooler and then pushes play on a cassette tape. David Bowie’s China Girl pours out of the speakers as he hands me my Bartles & James and says, “I want you to be my only Chica…”
My voice trembles as I say, “Si.”
He takes the drink from my hand and sets it down before he pulls me in close to him. The intoxicating scent of Aqua Velva mingled with Latin machismo emanates from his skin leaving me dizzy and breathless. He breathes in deep my own scent of Jean Nate and teenage lust as his hands move slowly to my back, working their way under my shirt. My skin is soft to him and smells “delicious.” He asks if he can taste me.
My breasts heave as I say, “Si.”
Sliding his hands up my body, he brings them to my face and then leans in to place sweet, gentle kisses at the corners of my lips, his tongue working its way into my mouth, tasting me as promised. His kiss is passionate and deep and makes me feel like the woman I am desperate to be. He asks if I want more.
Our breath mingles as I pant, “Si.”
I feel the beat of his heart racing with mine and the intensity of his desire through the denim of his Jordache for Men. My hand finds its way to his manhood straining against his jeans. I let my hand linger, teasing him. He begs me to set him free.
I whisper, “Si.”
I let loose the top button just as strong hands stop me, holding me in place. My beautiful Latin lover stares down at me with dark brown eyes and whispers, “You’re eighteen, right?”
I smile as I lie.
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