The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  



March 8, 2001

“Right, left, hail the taxi and spin,” Dave and I whispered to ourselves as we moved across the ballroom floor at our second lesson. Dave was pushing me again. “Applying pressure is how I communicate my next move,” he said when I complained. “Remember, Becky said that? I’m the man — I have to lead.”


“Becky,” I whined. “Dave’s pushing me!”


“Our partner is never doing something wrong,” Becky informed me in front of everyone, and stopped the music. “You say, ‘We seem to be having a problem.'” She took me in her arms and though I’m a head taller than her, she led me with one gentle hand on my shoulder blade (the other cupping an invisible egg in my right hand). Her rules of decorum are as inarguable as the foxtrot steps. I resolved never to criticize Dave again.


After our lesson, we went to the dark side of town for heavy metal karaoke in a basement bar. Soul-ache is hidden inside the screeched heavy metal lyrics. The young singers were isolated either by poverty and not understanding women (“There I was completely wasting, out of work and down/All inside it’s so frustrating . . . ” — Judas Priest, “Breaking the Law”) or by sudden wealth and the touring lifestyle and not understanding women (“Living on a jet, making love to someone else’s dreams . . . ” — Def Leppard, “Too Fast for Love”). All in all they were very bad writers, the heavy metal men — this inability to express themselves well could only have added to their feelings of alienation. No wonder they had to rock so hard — they were trying desperately to crack the invisible force field surrounding them. They’d pick up their guitar and pick up that needle and pick up that groupie even though they knew they’d feel twice as lonely after it was over. They never stopped trying, and looking back now I can see that they were such young boys. With such skinny legs.


I did three songs and everyone heckled “It’s the famous person!” referring to my appearance on MTV. But I knew this wasn’t about me. This was about lost young men from a lost time. Bad memories encased in the cement floor of this bar rose to meet the smoke wafting down through red, green, yellow and blue lights. Each half-hour, two more quitters would take up the cigarette habit again. My friend, who earlier kissed me on the lips while feeling my arm up, knocked over another something — a glass or a chair; her boyfriend walked out in disgust. Another girl and I chased after him, a lone figure wobbling with anger down a deserted alley. We brought him back in.


At two in the morning, smoke film slid down Dave’s and my skin under the sharp shower water and circled the drain. Sex took about three minutes (Dave had me describe the kiss from my out-of-control friend) — we were tired. Our bodies had been working towards sex all day, various parts saying hello to each other in dance moves (and Dave really liked the leather pants I changed into for our heavy metal night). I was running in my dreams, and then at seven I really was running, at the gym, kicking the remnants of Jack Daniels out my legs.


This winter has been still, as if my life was moving but I wasn’t. I was nestled inside my life like in an airplane — moving through space and leaving time behind. I was a heavy metal boy on tour. On an airplane, a baby can cry three rows back and it sounds like she’s a mile away. I was usually angry at Dave, but there was nothing that felt real enough to put into words, so I said nothing. In fact, I didn’t move all winter. Now I’m dancing, running, singing, getting pushed.


In the days just before spring — it doesn’t matter that there is three feet of snow still outside my window — movement seems inside each thing, trying to escape. Every tree branch quivers with it; even chairs and tables seem to be wiggling. The outlines of my heart wiggle, too — love is going to shoot straight out of my body and run around. Even if it has to rip a hole to do so.

Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.


Lisa Carver and, Inc.