The Fifth Wheel and the Belly Dancer

belly dancerIt is 1980.

I am the fifth wheel – two couples and I. I hate being the single guy all the time. I’m in a dry spell. But my luck is already changing – I just don’t know it yet.

We are at Apadana, a Greek restaurant in Newport Beach. After finishing our moussaka and lamb kebabs, the waiter invites us to watch the belly dancing. We are seated at a table for four in the front row on the aisle. ‘Fifth Wheel’ is seated in a chair on the aisle.

Like a baby.

The show starts. Samar, the first dancer, is gorgeous. I have never seen belly dancing except on TV and you don’t get it on TV. Eye contact is the difference. Watching a woman (Or a man, if that’s what floats your boat) undulate around the dance floor, occasionally making eye contact with me – and every other man in the place – is amazing.

As she concludes her dance, she moves towards our end of the dance floor. I watch as she passes around behind me into the aisle. The men in the crowd become very enthusiastic. I don’t want to do an ‘Exorcist’ head-turn to watch so I sit politely looking at my friends, waiting until she moves to my other side. I watch the faces of the two couples I am with. Suddenly, they all grin. I am puzzled.

But not for long.

I hear a breathy female voice in my right ear. “Are you ready for this?”

I’m not sure I am, but my mouth says ‘Yes’ anyway.

Reverse motorboat. That’s the only way to describe what happens. Samar steps up behind me, rests my head between her breasts, and begins shaking them back and forth. My friends tell me later they could see me blushing in the dark.

The place goes crazy. Men are waving money in the air, fives and tens, their wives and girlfriends either laughing drunkenly or glaring at them woodenly.

Samar backs away and moves up the aisle, allowing white-haired men in suits and ties to stick their money in the waistband of her costume. But for all that money, not one of them gets a motorboat ride.

I feel used. But I’m okay with that.