Belly Jelly

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NT: I want a mysterious dance name. Give me a mysterious dance name!

Eivers: Your dance name is Jameen. It means "beautiful."

NT: I sort of prefer Dances With Sarcasm. Or Fred. Couldn't I be Fred?

Eivers: No, no, no! No one would come to see a belly dancer named Fred.

NT: Do guys do belly dance?

Eivers: I have one guy in the troupe, but it's different. A woman's dance is more concentrated on her bust area or her hips. Her navel. The men's dance is more jovial, and there's usually a big sword involved.

NT: How subtle. What do these people do during the day?

Eivers: Kristen is a biochemist. Karen is a legal assistant. Amy is a public school teacher. Another of our dancers is a research librarian for Intel, another is a 911 operator.

NT: Amazing. I bet their co-workers wonder why they're walking around digging glue out of their navels all day. Speaking of belly buttons, what if you have an outie rather than an innie?

Eivers: These days, the girls with outies usually get them pierced.

NT: Ow! Hey, I'm guessing you're going to tell me that belly dancing encourages a healthy body image among women.

Eivers: It takes a lot of courage for some women, who other people would write off as fat, to get up on my stage and dance in a tiny costume. We have one troupe that comes here to perform and they have women who aren't very attractive at all. One of them has braces, but she's a hell of a dancer, man. She dances with candles on her head! They have another woman in their troupe who's large, and I mean large! She wears big eyeglasses and a little belly dance costume and you know what? I look at her and say, "Okay, what do I have to be shy about?"

NT: Could a flat girl perform?

Eivers: Yeah. But she'd probably stuff. Because look at how their bras are shaped. Those sort of torpedoes covered in shiny stuff. Can you imagine how heavy they are? Do you want to feel one?

NT: Oh, thanks. I couldn't. You know, it looks like the rule of thumb with some of the girls is "When in doubt, spin."

Eivers: I know. Yeah. I think you're right. Here. Finish your coffee and I'll read your coffee grounds. It's good, huh? It's Arabic coffee; it's boiled.

NT: Mmm! Boiled coffee!

Eivers: (Dumps out coffee, then peers into cup.) Okay, you see how the face of the coffee is open? That's a good sign. It means good fortune. Now, this clear area here means there's no bullshit about you. You always speak your mind, even if we don't want to hear it. And, okay, see these two birds over here, by the handle of the cup?

NT: It looks like coffee grounds.

Eivers: Well, they're birds. They're telling me you may be going on an expedition of some sort. Some place with a lot of mountains.

NT: Phoenix has a lot of mountains. Maybe it means I should go home now.

Eivers: Now look over here. See the little man?

NT: Yes. He's wearing a stocking cap.

Eivers: Right. He's climbing a tall mountain, and he's almost to the top. That's a good sign. It means you're about to reach your peak, you're about to have everything you want out of life.

NT: I don't have a stocking cap.

Eivers: You're reaching your peak! You're reaching your peak! You have to trust me on this. And look here, there's a halo on the side of the cup. It means you've got someone looking out for you.

NT: Is it my editor?

Eivers: No. I see a tree, but it doesn't have any branches on it.

NT: A log? I don't think I want to know more.

Eivers: No, a tree with no branches means you're all done growing, and you've achieved almost everything you're going to!

NT: So I may as well die. Well, I think I'll go home now.

Eivers: Wait. Lick your right thumb.

NT: Excuse me?

Eivers: Lick your right thumb, make a thumb print in the bottom of the coffee cup, and then lick the coffee off. It's part of the reading.

NT: (Licking thumb.) I'll bet it isn't. I'll bet you're making this up as you go along and secretly laughing at me.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela