The Return Of The Army Of Light – Excerpt – Inspired by Whatever Lola Wants
Growing up in conservative Palmerston North in Manawatu, Marc used to listen to show records his grandmother would give him. His favourite was Damn Yankees, the popular 1955 musical about a baseball fan who made a deal with the devil, so his beloved Washington Senators team would win the pennant against the New York Yankees.
Every day after school, he would do his homework swiftly before listening to the record all afternoon.
One day Minerva, his grandmother, invited him to come spend Saturday night with her and his grandfather, Simon. There was a movie on TV she wanted them to watch together. On that Saturday night around 8:30 they gathered in front of the TV, and when the white on red Damn Yankees title came on the screen, Marc could not believe he was about to watch the movie of his favourite musical. That was the first time he saw Gwen Verdon dancing, and thought she was the most beautiful, divine and classy woman he had ever seen.
The greatest surprise that night came when his grandparents announced they had recorded the movie in one of those new video recorders things, a Betamax machine, which they were going to give him as a birthday present.
The routine of coming home to listen to the record every afternoon quickly evolved into watching the movie repeatedly until he learned all the dance routines. He spent hours at a time in front of a mirror doing Whatever Lola Wants and A Little Brains, A Little Talent.
When school restarted a few weeks later, Marc had two classmates come to his house for an after-school session of homework, fun and games. He had some ulterior motive, though. On that particular day, he decided it was time to preview in front of an audience the version of Lola he had been perfecting during the summer break.
After doing their homework, and enjoying some refreshments and snacks, Marc invited the young guests to his bedroom to play games. He excused himself for a bit and went into the bathroom. Few minutes later, he came out wearing a costume he had fashioned with bed sheets.
“Joo bee a good boy Jo” Marc addressed one of the kids, imitating a Latino accent. “And doo like Lola taelz joo to doo.”
Marc dropped the needle on the record and began a rousing rendition of Whatever Lola Wants, minus the ruffles but with plenty of heart and poo-poo-pidus. Slowly he removed each one of the black socks, which were doubling as elbow length gloves. Next he took off the top of the dress, which he had created with a pillowcase. The skirt, made up with a flat sheet, was the last item to come off. Finally, just as in the movie, he finished the number by throwing himself on little Donald’s lap, and tossing his right arm up in the air.
Little Donald left so fast, with the excuse of having to finish homework that he left behind the Gospel Express record he had brought to afternoon gathering.
A little embarrassed and feeling that he had let half his audience down, Marc stood in his underwear in the middle of the bedroom, holding against his chest the remainders of the dress he had made with his Star Wars bed sheets. Without saying a word the other kid stood up, and with a serious and determined look on his face approached Marc, saw him dead in the eye and asked him:
“Do you need a partner to do Who’s Got The Pain?”
“The spot is yours if you want it, Ulysses.” Marc answered.
At that moment, not only had Marc found a dancing partner; he had also started a long lasting friendship with Ulysses.