Monday, 3 November 2008
He swears that his parents ruined his life from the day he was born. He was named Aladdin, which he says he hates so much he won't change it. He insists that his parents use his full name when he talks to them, to remind them of what they saddled him with in life. We all call him Dink, although he's told me before when he's drunk that he longs to be called Cap'n Al.
He also claims, but less often and when there's only his friends around, that his mother deliberately stunted his growth. I've met his mother, and she seems to be a lovely, blameless woman with literary tastes, but she does smoke like she's preserving salmon. She smoked all through her pregnancy, and instead of craving coal and margarine she craved Glenfiddich and Grey Goose. I can see why he says that, but then I also know that his father used to put horse hormones in his food when he was a kid. I've not found a good time to tell him that.
We were away on business, stuck in a hotel in the middle of Leeds when I found out his secret. Dinner had been in the hotel restaurant and had been competently cooked, if slowly served. After dinner we'd gone back to our rooms, and arranged to meet for breakfast the next morning. I had finished checking email on my laptop and was minded to soak in the bath with a novel for an hour before bed when the brochure touting the hotel's features caught my eye, and I noticed that they had a little nightclub. What the hell, I thought, it wouldn't hurt to check it out.
I walked into a small room with a mirrored dancefloor, a silver disco-ball suspended in the dead centre of the ceiling, listening to the DJ playing something by Rush from the seventies. My foot was tapping, which I'd have stopped if there'd been anyone there to see me, but the room was empty. I wondered if I should get a drink from the bar and wait to see if anyone came along, or if I should just scarper before the DJ could get excited about having an audience.
Then the track ended, and the theme from Saturday Night Fever started, and something moved on the dancefloor, and I just caught the movement at the corner of my eye. I turned, and there was Dink, all four foot six of him, striking a pose on the dancefloor. He was wearing an off-white pant-suit with faded black trim and rhinestones that had lost some of their sparkle. The top was cut deep to the waist, revealing a pale, hairless, concave chest and a medallion the size of the palm of my hand. It swung and glittered in the light from the disco ball as he posed, and then he kicked off in time with the music, a miniature John Travolta strutting through the song. My mouth dropped open in surprise.
I came back to my senses before Dink came to his, so he never saw me. I scurried off the dance floor and over to the DJ booth and spent the night there, chatting to DJ Samantha Panther and watching Dink, the only dancer all night in the disco, cutting his moves on the mirrored dancefloor.
I put the pictures up on flickr the next morning from an anonymous account.