I never knew “Do si do” was a dance step. I knew it was involved with square dancing (“Swing your partner, do si do!”), but I assumed that this was some sort of patter, like King Louie and Baloo in the original animated Jungle Book movie. When I finally figured out that do si do was a dance step, and actually learned how to do it, I never would’ve imagined I’d be doing it at a Catholic parish hoedown, in the undercroft of a cathedral. Life is funny that way.
I could go into the specifics of how I came to be there, theologically speaking. I could tell you how after a good deal of soul-searching, I found a new church home, and how being formally received into it at the Easter Vigil was one of the most moving spiritual experiences I have had. (Side note: make sure to take your sandals off if you’re stepping into a baptismal font. You will splash. Also, try to ignore the ominous gurgling noise when the water drains out of the font while the ceremony is still going on. You will laugh, and that could be embarrassing, especially with the Archbishop being there and all.) I could go into all of that, but I am not a theologian. So let’s skip all that and get to the square dancing.
Our parish had a hoedown type event announced. I and my wife decided to attend. I own neither cowboy hat nor boots, alas, but I had a Zorro hat from a Halloween party last year, and a red plaid shirt. And so, Canadian Zorro rode valiantly to the hoedown.
At the hoedown, there was, of course, square dancing. I had never square danced in my life. But a little voice inside my head said, hey, why not? And so, I did. It turns out that square dancing is ridiculously fun. You hold hands with your partner, move about in various circles and steps, switch hands with someone else, and yell “Whoo!” at appropriate intervals, all while laughing hysterically. (At least, that was how I did it.). Do si do, I discovered, means that you start off facing your partner, then move in a circle around them, without (and this is the tricky bit), turning around yourself. I somehow managed to accomplish this without knocking my partner down. I’m not saying I’m Lord of the Dance or River Tam in the “Safe” episode of Firefly or anything, but….
It was fun. It was unfiltered, purely happy fun. I haven’t had fun like that in some time.
I mean to do it again. And I mean to learn more square dancing steps. Today: the do-si-do. Tomorrow….POLKA.
Candystriper fluttered anxiously about the underground bunker. “Well, I don’t know, do I wear the dress with the poofy sleeves? I don’t like poofy sleeves, but I don’t want to wear the curtain ones, I mean really, curtain dresses are so-“
A dirty grey jacket flopped onto the floor in front of her. “We’re not going to a tea party!” the Malevolent Med-Student bellowed. “We’re going to infiltrate the Army of Northern Virginia! We’re going to be crawling around in the muck and the mire! This isn’t an occasion for white tie and tails! Or poofy sleeves!”
Candystriper sighed. That didn’t sound promising. “Why are we doing this again, sir?” She had an idea of the answer, of course, but she was setting him up for a monologue. He did not disappoint.
“We’re linking up with Confederate Connie to travel back in time and give laser rifles to General Robert E. Lee and his army, as they prepare to launch their second invasion of the North. With the help of the laser rifles, Lee will smash the Union army under Meade, march on Washington, capture President Lincoln, and win the Civil War for the South, thereby changing the very course of time!” The Malevolent Med-Student struck a very dramatic pose as he finished his speech. Unfortunately, Candystriper was so engrossed in the plan that she failed to turn on the background music. A moment of awkward silence ensued.
“Sir?” Candystriper ventured at last. “My great-grandparents got married after the Civil War. This won’t, like, stop them from meeting and keep me from being born?”
“Of course not,” the Malevolent Med-Student said grumpily. “The time machine’s got a causality-paradox inhibitor chip, hasn’t it? You’ll be fine.”
“Yay!” said Candystriper, and tugged on the grey jacket. It smelled badly, and was clearly not intended for someone of her gender. She glanced at her boss; he was in the process of donning an extremely neat grey uniform, complete with epaulets, sword, and a wide-brimmed hat with a jaunty feather in it. “Sir?” she asked. “Aren’t you, um, worried about the muck and mire?”
“I’m an officer,” he said. “I’ve got to look it.”
“Oh.” She said nothing else as they climbed out of the bunker, out into the deserted forest, and to the clump of trees where the Malevolent Med-Student had hidden the time machine. She had seen it once before. It looked like an old-fashioned phone booth, only with no windows. Now, however, as Candystriper approached the trees, she smelled a distinct crispiness to the air. “Sir?” she said again. “I think it’s broke.”
The Malevolent Med-Student rushed forward. Sure enough, all that remained off the time machine was a heap of slagged metal and smouldering circuitry. “It’s her.” he snarled. “Always her! But how could she possibly-“
It was just then that Candystripher’s invisible friend, Marcia the manatee, materialized over her shoulder. In a short burst of song, Marcia suggested that this was the time to make a quick getaway. “Right, Marcia!” Candystriper said, and started running. She stopped when a black Starfleet-style boot hit her face.
“Hi there,” Gaseous Girl said. The minion did not return her greeting, as she was passed out on the ground. The Malevolent Med-Student burst out with a torrent of inappropriate words.
“Confederate Connie says hello, by the way,” Gaseous Girl said, as she knocked the Malevolent Med-Student into the ruins of his own time machine. “Or she would, if she were conscious. That happens a lot to you guys. Go figure.”
When you’re a superhero, sometimes you let the little things slip. If you’re trying to stop Confederate Connie from sending laser rifles back in time to General Lee, for example, you might not care so much that you didn’t put your soft drink can in the proper bin. This is especially true for flying brick type heroes. Gaseous Girl, for one, had survived a bus thrown at her head. She had understandably skipped her flu shot that year. Who needed a flu shot when she could breath fire?
In the same way, she had never been incredibly careful about her secret identity. So what if someone found out her real name? Her family wasn’t a problem. Gaseous Girl had come by her powers honestly. Her mom could resurrect in 17 seconds, and her dad was an A-level pyrokinetic. They could take care of themselves. She also didn’t have to worry about a supervillain using her lover to get to her, because she didn’t have one. There was an upside to being between relationships. Even her job wasn’t an issue. She wasn’t secretly competing against normals in the Olympics, like, oh, say, Speedfreak. She was a freelance crime investigator. She got along well with the police already, in both identities.
So, some days, when she was in a hurry, she didn’t make sure that she had her mask on before she flamed up. Tuesday had been one of those days. Behemoth Bob had been spotted in downtown. Gaseous Girl dashed out of her apartment, charged down the rickety wooden steps, and was clear out into the parking lot before she remembered the mask. She tied it on with practiced speed and soared away.
There was this kid, however. Sam McClain. He was eleven, and just developing a crush on Madeleine Smith from next door. He was quite startled when he saw her flame up and blaze away. Sam still had the presence of mind to snap a picture with his phone. Then he Instagrammed it. The picture of Gaseous Girl, maskless, went moderately viral. Even Crudmuffin, not the most technologically savvy of superheroes, noticed it. He also noticed the street sign in the background, and deduced that she must live in the area. Crudmuffin promptly sent over a drone loaded with explosive biscuit bombs.
Madeleine, being a good neighbor, visited Sam in the ICU. She lied, and said he was sure to come through okay. “‘Course I will,” he said. “You’re Gaseous Girl. You’ll save everything.”
On the really cold days, I can’t feel my feet.
I can’t feel them on the warm days either,
Not the feet, not the eyes, not the elbows.
They’re for the monster, he says.
A new creation, he says.
And I lost the brain. Of course.
I am an Igor, and this is my job.
I got the right brain, no question.
Not an abnormal one, no sir – I’m not a moron.
Igor U, summa cum laude, class of ’92.
My diploma hangs on the castle dungeon wall.
Anyway, it’s a brilliant scientist’s brain.
Dude discovered some element or something.
But somewhere between the mob attack and the thunderstorm,
I lost the brain, and the doc will kill me.
I am an Igor, and this is my job.
What do I do?
Steal another scientist’s brain? No.
Takes hella time to swipe a brain.
Maybe I should just ask the doc. Nice guy, the doc is.
It’s not like he would swipe my summa cum laude brain instead, right?
I am an Igor, and this is my job.
The poetry slam at Yeah Write for this month is the bop, a form I had not heard of before. I don’t imagine there are many bops about the travails of a mad scientist’s assistant. But I couldn’t resist trying one.
“Mommy, the world tilts!”
“Yes, dear,” Super Soccer Mom said automatically. Her voice had a faint buzz to it; it always did when she mentally interfaced with her electronically enhanced soccer ball robot Winston. “Justin, what about the Wombat?”
The Captain’s voice rumbled from Winston’s speakers. It was punctuated by small thuds. “Tasha, you cannot be serious! The one with the burrowing power?”
“Suppose the expedition finds something, like another planet?” Tasha said sensibly. “It might have something going on underground. We might need a good burrower. Hang on.” She turned and yelled at another of her children, who was just about to set fire to a laundry hamper. “Sauna, don’t. Remember: no fires inside the house.”
“Moooo-oom,” the teenager whined, in the manner that teenagers usually do.
“But, mommy,” the first child, somewhat younger, said again. “The world tilts!”
“Yes, it does that,” Super Soccer Mom said. Then she divided her attention again. “Justin, I’m back. Wait. Saun a Aurora Case, you stop that right-“
“Sorry,” Sauna grumbled, and slammed her door. There was a faint whiff of ash.
“Back again,” Super Soccer Mom said. “How’s the battle going?”
She heard five or six thuds, each sounding progressively louder. Then she heard the Captain yelling “Son of a mailman!” and other innocuous expletives. “Right, then,” she said, switching away momentarily.
“Mommy, it tilts! Won’t we fall off?”
“That’s ridic-” she started to say. Then she looked into her child’s wide eyes, and realized he really was quite concerned that the tilting of the world meant that he and everyone he knew might plunge into the void of space. She thought very quickly how to answer. She did not have time for a lengthy explanation of gravitational and centrifugal forces, of axial tilts and the changing of the seasons. The kid would cover that in science class later, anyway. She settled for calm yet vague reassurance.
“No, we won’t fall off. No one’s fallen off yet, have they?”
A small nose scrunched up. “No, but…. couldn’t Daddy push it and make it straight?”
Again she had to think. Other kid’s moms could say no right off, and maybe even laugh. But Captain Happily Married was gifted with boundless strength. He might very well be able to tilt a planet. She’d honestly never asked. She made a mental note to ask, just out of curiosity, then returned to the matter. “If it was straight, it would change the weather. Mess with the seasons. It-”
“Why?” came the inevitable question.
She fell back on the inevitable answer. “Because I said so.” Then she spun to the hovering Winston. “Cartoon. Now.”
Winston beeped and immediately projected something from Looney Tunes on a nearby wall. The child was instantly distracted. Then Winston’s speakers buzzed. “Tasha?” came the Captain’s strained voice. “I might require some assistance here!”
Tasha sighed. She’d have to make another call to the babysitter. She prayed Hope didn’t have exams that night; otherwise she’d have to engage a civilian babysitter. Civilian babysitters and powered-up kids didn’t mix well. “On the way,” she said, reaching for her cape. Just once, she really did wish the world would stay saved. Just once.