Lisa’s Private Thoughts October 12th, 2011: “Vintage Clothing, Nathan, and Burlesque”

Uncle Nathan is the coolest guy ever!

Back when we’d been in Europe he’d promised to take me to some places that had vintage clothing and today he did just that.  It was a raining today so we didn’t have to worry about the sun bothering him as we drove around.  At the first place we stopped I found this really nice-looking old bustle skirt in black that fit just perfect.  Unfortunately, it was a little out of my price range, but not Nathan’s.  He bought if for me.

“It looked perfect on you,” he explained.  “And I would know, I spent a lot of time looking at women from the front, from behind, all around in fact.”

I gently slugged him on the arm for that one and called him a pervert to which he replied, “Excuse me, I did work in theater for a coupled of decades doing a lot of different jobs, including helping with people’s outfits.  I had to make sure they looked right before they went on stage.”

“Sure, you did,” I teased back.

“Right, that does it,” he announced and took me to a theater that was running a burlesque show.

Now before anyone freaks out, the show wasn’t going to be on until later.  So the only people there were a couple of the girls who were rehearsing and the troupe’s leader, a woman named Olivia.  Much to my surprise when she spotted Nathan her face lit up and she came running over to give him a big hug crying, “Uncle Nate!  Oh, how I’ve missed you.  Hey, everyone Nate’s here!”

I swear one of these days I’m going to find out exactly how many people are part of his ‘extended family’ besides mine.  Back in Europe there were quite a few, but now I’m beginning to think that the the actual numbers are much larger.

In this case it made sense.  Apparently a number of friends and cousins were in charge of this burlesque troupe.  I don’t think all of them know his real secret as a couple of the people mentioned how unusual it was to see him in the day.  “You usually only come around at night when we have a show going,” one mentioned.  To which he replied with a waggle of his eyebrows, “Well, the sites around here are much more interesting at that time.”

After everyone burst out laughing, I was given the grand tour backstage while Nathan was giving people a hand here and there with the backstage equipment and event he costumes.  Apparently he was telling the truth as several of the girls asked for his opinion and help with some of their outfits.  I think a few were trying to flirt, but mostly they did want his advice and help.

It was interesting to see all the inner workings of a theater backstage.  I’d never been behind the scenes before, so this was a real treat for me.

Plus I got to see inside one of the dressing rooms where they kept all the clothing and make-up.   One of the things they all stressed to me was although I wanted to go for an authentic look I should also keep in mind, be able to move and breathe.

“We don’t just get out there and start stripping, we’re dancing,” one girl told me.  “We do splits and a lot of other acrobatics.  And some of us are wearing corsets and those can be constricting so if you’re not careful you could make your life really miserable.  So choose items that allow movement and fabrics that breathe and you’ll be okay.”

I thought this was great advice, because the theater teacher at my high school has been complimenting me on my outfits lately.  She says I have an eye for style and authentic looks and has been hinting I should maybe join her class.  I told her I’d think about it and now I really am.  This could be a great experience for me and open up some doors down the road.  I may do it since I have more time to myself these days.  Marisa is still being distant, but at least now I know what’s going on.  Her dad is fighting cancer and she’s spending as much time with him as possible in case things go bad.

I’d love to be there for her, but my parents say I should respect her wishes to be with her family more, so I’m giving her her space.  I’m still going to try and be there for her as much as possible, especially at school.  But I’m going to do as my parents say and giver her her space.  I just hope things go well so we can start hanging together again.  I really miss her.

Nathaniel’s Blog January 7th, 20– “A Night At The Crypt”

At The Crypt…

 

Brian talked me into taking the night off from transcribing more letters, and going to my dance club.  It’s an older building.  One of many I purchased during the Depression.  Like many I felt the pinch of the stock market collapse, but I wasn’t destroyed by it.  I lost a fair amount mind you, but I never kept all my eggs in one basket.  For one thing gold never goes out of style, no matter how bad things get.  Nor do diamonds and other fine jewels.  Plus I had investments that did not suffer, especially those overseas.  

Not that I’ve had to worry about money for some time.  I don’t have as many needs to spend money on, and I’ve had many jobs over the years which paid nicely.  What can I say, I like to keep busy doing things and learning new trades and skills.  It also helped that my first wife also left me quite well off.  Ah Madeline, even after 110 years I still miss her.  She was a wonderful woman and we enjoyed our time together.  Benjamin Franklin was quite right in his advice to a young man about being with an older woman, I learned so much from her.  Unfortunately, it also meant our time together was not nearly as long as I would’ve liked.

These days however, I’m surrounded by younger women all the time.  Which is only natural.  It’s hard to find someone your own age when you’re a 167.  Many are in their teens, some in their twenties, with the occasional 30 or 40 year old as well.  I admire them all, but keep myself somewhat distant.  Sex is still quite enjoyable, even being what I am.  But I’ve learned to be careful about who I partner up with for the pleasure. 

But tonight, I’m just enjoying the company of the crowd itself.  Love watching excitement and pleasure they get from being in a place where everyone knows they’re safe and can and enjoy themselves.

 

I’ve just finished running the turntables and turning them over to my main DJ “The Scar Man”.  Former gang -banger I met a few years back.  He’s a great guy and helps keep an eye out on  the younger crowd for me.  I prefer things being friendly around my place, not that there aren’t the occasional upsets and punches thrown.  After all, a lot of my clientele are in their teens.  Hormones are running rampant, and status is oh so important.

They mostly patrol themselves, because they know better than to have me intercede. If a weapon comes out, then I’m all over them before they know it.  God knows I’ve been stabbed by or even shot by accident more than once.  Most of the culprits freak out because they can’t believe what they’d just done.  A rare few, don’t care and even make another attempt to get past me.  They learn the hard way.  I make sure they never pull a weapon on anyone ever again, unless their own life or someone else’s is at stake.  I try not to be stupid with my powers.   Not everyone is as long-lived or hard to kill as I am.  

Tonight, I see trouble brewing but of the lesser kind.   

Over in one corner a boy named Teddy is asking the head cheerleader for a dance.  I’ve watched Teddy for a while.  He’s not one of my nephews, but he’s friends with a few.  He’s a good kid, on the quiet side, not good at sports and certainly not a stoner.  So in short, a prime ‘bully’ target.  When he was younger, I heard he cried a lot when he got picked on which led to getting beat up.  Although others intervened on those occasions, he seemed to suffer more than one would expect from a few simple punches.  These days I think I know why.  And now I see the football’s quarterback Cory coming over with a few of his buddies.

He grabs Teddy and gives him a body check that sends him into a couple of chairs.  Teddy hits the ground hard.  I pass through the crowd without their even realizing it.  Not one gyration or step is missed as I pass between the smallest of openings.

I’m standing before Cory and his friends before they can let out their first guffaw.  Their mouths clamp shut instantly.  I glance down at Teddy who is clenching his teeth in pain.  I can tell from here there’s only going to be a bruise or two, but I know what’s really going on.  I had it when I was a kid, only we didn’t have a name for it back then.  

Cory starts telling me that he’d warned Teddy about bothering Sherry, the cheerleader.  They’re not actually dating, but he’s one of those alpha males who thinks they are destined to be a couple.  Someone’s been watching too many movies.

I nod and tell him he’s not in trouble with me.  But I also point out that I know for a fact that he’s been riding Ted since elementary school.  That’s another benefit of being around for so long, you hear a lot of things. “While I’m glad you’ve channeled your more aggressive nature into sports, it doesn’t give you free pass for tormenting those who are ill,” I tell him.

He gives me an incredulous look.  “What are you talking about?  He’s just a drama-queen who likes to have people feeling sorry for him,” he shoots back.

Turning to Ted I ask, “How bad is your Fibromyalgia acting up today?  What are the pain levels like?”

The young man stares at me in shock.  “You know?”

I nod and say, “Of course I do.  Takes one to know one.  I had it back when I was a kid.  I suspect you have too.”

“Yeah,” he tells me looking away.  “It’s been this way my whole life.  They only diagnosed me with it two years ago.  Everyone kept telling me I was a crybaby, or a wimp who needed to toughen up.  My dad kept telling me I needed to be a man.  He never believed me until the doctor’s told him what was wrong.  He still doesn’t, but Mom does.  So do my sisters.”

Behind me I hear one of Cory’s crew muttering, “Shit!  My mom’s got that.”

I reach down and help Ted up onto a chair.  He hurts more than he’s letting on, but I can sense it.  One of the other cheerleaders, comes over and sits down with us.  I remember her name is Tina.  She’s one of the back-up cheerleaders.  She starts telling Ted that she knows where he’s coming from and that she has it too.  Which is why she’s a second-stringer.  Her ability to perform is erratic some days.

I leave them all to sort things out amongst themselves.  A few friendships may arise from this, even possibly a romantic relationship.  Mostly I’m hoping to see tolerance come from this encounter.  Invisible illnesses can be quite a difficult thing to contend with.  Both for the person suffering it, as well as for others to recognize.  

My own father never fully recognized it in me, but I learned to hide it with time.  He wanted a son who was strong and able.  I did my best for years to live up to that expectation.  It was also one of the prime reasons I went to war, besides wanting to protect my friends.  I no longer feel those old pains at least not physically.  But I remember them as well as if they were still plaguing me.  I can’t do anything for the physical pain, Ted is feeling, but at least I may have lessened some of the others he’s known for so long.

I glance back once more.  Cory and most of his crew have moved on, but Tina is still with Ted.  They seem to be getting on pretty well.

Katy Perry’s “Roar” is winding down, so I head over to the keyboard.  A little slow dance music seems to be in order.

Brian’s E-Journal January 7th, 20–

I’m beginning to think I may have made a mistake in getting Uncle Nathan to transcribe all those letters and journals.  He hasn’t been himself since he started.  I’m guessing that even after a hundred and fifty years some wounds just don’t heal enough.  Though he already told me he’s determined to finish the task.  He really laments all the journals, pictures, and personal mementos  that were lost to him over the last century and a half.  At least in cyberspace they can never be lost.  Plus he really wants those of us who know him to really be able to understand all he’s seen and done throughout his long life.
 
I still find it hard to believe that he’s been around for almost a century and a half.  I don’t mean just the fact that he’s existed all that time, but what he’s seen and done over the decades.  He didn’t just sit around brooding and despairing about outliving all the friends and family he knew.   The man keeps looking ahead, eager to see new things will come.
 
I mean think about it.  Here is a man who has witnessed the birth of movies, television, computers, and so many other inventions that have changed the world.  Plus, he’s witnessed or even been part of historic events, both good and bad.  But that’s just the start.
 
He’s attended night classes at a number college and universities.  I know for a fact that he has at least two doctorates, three masters and I don’t know how many A. A. and B. A. Degrees.  He’s learned to play several musical instruments and is a master of ballroom and modern dance styles.
 
There are photos and posters from the stage and theater.  The man was actually part of Vaudeville, for crying out loud.  He knew some of Hollywood’s biggest names before the movie industry ever even existed.  God knows he’s made so many of us laugh performing some of his old skits, recreating some performances by other legendary figures like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino (before the movies when he was mostly known for ballroom dance) The Marx Brothers and Mae West to name a few.
 

  

The Marx Brothers had a huge influence on him.  He learned to play the piano from Chico and later the harp from Harpo.  Right now, we’re in ‘The Crypt’ and Uncle Nate’s tearing up the piano in Chico’s style.
 
*Author’s Note: Click here to see Chico Marx in action:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfIVnzpj1vM
 
While his teacher was well known for polka and classical, Uncle Nate likes to let loose with a mixture of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and others while still using the same finger movements and comedy.   Even the youngest of the Hip-Hop crowd love to watch him in action.  Especially when he uses some of those comedic skills up at the turntables when he sits in for the club’s DJ.
 
He never has to worry about the owner of the place being bothered by his antics, he is the owner.  He acquired the building back during the Great Depression.  “The Crypt” is in the basement and is always open most of the night.  Alcohol is never served.  That came to an end back in Prohibition and he never lifted the ban.  He just wanted a place for everyday people to enjoy themselves.
 
Right now he’s up there getting his and everyone else’s groove going.  I could go on and on about him, but I think it’s better when these things come from him.  Which I’m going to try and encourage.  Transcribing the letters and journals are still important, but so is existing in the present.  This is something he’s taught me and so many others over the years.  I guess that’s why we love him so much and help keep his secret.  At least half of the club’s visitors know and keep quiet.  They also donate regularly so there’s always a supply for him in the refrigerators.  He only takes from people directly on rare occasions.  But that’s an entry for another day.  Right now, he’s stepping over to the piano and cutting loose there, and my feet are itching to get on the dance floor with my wife and children.  Even at forty we know how bust moves with the best of them.  Uncle Nate taught us the importance of always moving with the times and living our lives to the fullest.