“This song,” the DJ says, “is dedicated to the lady in red in the middle of the dance floor.”
The Prince song begins, and I like Prince. I keep dancing. My friend C. laughs and points at me. “What?” I shout over the music.
“Red!” she says and swings herself around to the beat.
I look around and realize I’m the only girl on the dance floor wearing red. Get Off is the song. I stop dancing.
“That’s right. You,” the DJ says. “From the gentleman over here on the right.”
Several people on the floor look at me. I’m unsure what to do. I don’t want to see the guy who picked this song for me, but I can’t help it. The guy on the edge of the dance floor waves at me. He is muscular, tall, and black. His head in shaved. He has a huge smile.
I give him half a smile and turn my back on him in what I hope passes for a polite thanks, but no thanks. But it is hard to dance again. What kind of song is Get Off to dedicate to a girl? How am I supposed to react to that? The possibilities begin–He thinks I’m in this bar for a one-night stand but why would he think that because my outfit is not that wild and I’m even wearing flats with bows on them for crying out loud, but maybe he’s just clueless and the DJ picked the song and he’s a nice guy, but then again maybe he didn’t think at all and he doesn’t care how I react, like maybe it was a joke and I’m reading way too much into this and why is it that some girls can tell a guy like to drop dead but I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it, I mean, maybe I’m just not worldly enough and I ought to be complimented, but what if by ignoring him I’ve made him angry and he will he think I’m blowing him off because he’s black or will he think it is because of the song, and is this song really that bad…
C. leans in to me. “Come on,” she says. “Let’s go.”
Once you know you have an audience, the work changes. I was dancing one way until that song and a different way after. How I wrote my first novel was different than how I wrote the last one. How I write here is different than how I wrote in my journal (more consistent for one thing).
How has having an audience changed your work?