Dance Floor Wars: 4-novel summary
Novel 1, Dispatches from the Front, is told by one Gordon Wesley Asbury, a journalist covering the Dance Floor Wars. Gordon’s paper has told him he needs a break. The war’s gotten to him, you know. Find a coffee shop. Sit. Contemplate. Unwind. He does and there meets Lucinda, a combatant in the very same war he’s covering.
But whereas Gordon’s been covering the war from the generals’ tents, Lucinda is on the front lines, dancing every Friday and Saturday. Lucinda suggests a plan for Gordon to see the war up close. He reports on many frontline fighters.
Novel 1 is the book Gordon writes after he quits the journalism game, where he can tell the unfiltered truth without worrying about the feelings of the advertisers in the paper. In other words, PC be damned and you can forget about keeping official secrets — except for those that affect pension plans, of course.
The Reed, a fave dance partner of Lucinda’s, is killed behind Hydrate. Will we ever find out who did it? Eternal Sunshine of the Not-So-Spotless Mind, code name for the head of M.I.S.T.E.R. (Men Involved, and Sisters Too, in Engineering Reversals), plays games with Tattoo Ingenué, the lovechild of the heads of D.O.W.N. (Declare Our War on men Now) and W.A.C. (Women are Chattel), and a Stop Panty-Peeler Songs protest parade is planned for downtown Atlanta.
Besides falling for Lucinda and staring an early forced retirement in the eye, Gordon listens closely to Lucinda’s stories about her interaction with other soldiers in the Dance Floor Wars, causing Gordon to see his past life clearly. He’s not happy with what he finds. But the future!
Oh, the future with Lucinda will make up for all that, yes indeed. A sunny clime. Sleeping in. Making love in the afternoon. But will Lucinda agree? Will it be a Long Monday (reference the John Prine song of the same name) for Gordon?
Novel 2, Lucinda’s People, is written from the omniscient narrator’s POV. While Lucinda can clearly see other people and has a deep understanding of human nature and its inner workings, she’s somewhat blind when it comes to understanding her own motivations and reactions.
In Novel 1, Lucinda is almost too perfect. Readers tolerate her presence because, after all, always very honest about everything and we like and trust him, Gordon wouldn’t love Lucinda if she were a shallow creep. But in Novel 2 we learn more about Lucinda from other people — our omniscient narrator does well helping out in this — and we come to love her because of her imperfections.
We begin to get hints as to who may be responsible for The Reed’s death, though the details themselves are unknown. Eternal attempts to lure Lucinda to spy for M.I.S.T.E.R.; she is followed. Can she ditch her tail?
Then Lucinda meets Big Daddy, a man in need of finding himself. Big Daddy had never known fear at any time, but upon meeting Lucinda, for the first time he bumps up hard against his limits. His lifelong friend, L.T. (Little Timmy), welcomes Big Daddy to the real world of male-female relationships by making fun of him for choking when he thinks of or is around Lucinda. Lucinda suggests certain trips to take together wherein they play various roles so that Big Daddy can be somebody else and thereby get to know himself better.
Eternal and Tattoo Ingenué, the unintended lovechild of heads of D.O.W.N. and W.A.C., move forward in their plans for the Stop Panty-Peeler Songs protest parade. Musicians and singers from Classical to Jazz to Rap to Country and Rock hear about the parade. Seeing their livelihood at risk if this movement gains momentum, they show up with instruments and loudspeakers to stage their own counter-protest.
What do they see? Why they see the hook to the famous song by Kool and the Gang on the very signs carried by Tattoo and her group. It doesn’t take long for the parade to turn into a wet-shirt lovefest as “Get down on it! Duhn, duhn, duhn. Get down on it” bounces off the high-rises around Hard Rock Café.
Yes, Eternal loves it when a plan comes together perfectly.
Previous to reporting on the parade, Jerry Tributary tries to find dirt on Tattoo Ingenué. He yells at his staff, “Nobody covered in tattoos can be a virgin. Find her gynecologist! Get her to admit she’s not a virgin! I want documents, people.”
Mother hires Snatch Master to pop Tattoo’s cherry. Daddy finds out. Is she rescued in time? In any case, Daddy publicly resigns as head of W.A.C.
Now they are all perfect guests for Tributary’s show. The show never airs and redacted documents are not helpful, but we track down audience members who tell us what happened on that stage.
Big Daddy has an epiphany in Lucinda’s kitchen and realizes they cannot marry. A year or more passes with Lucinda out of the war. Then Gordon comes back to town. Will this be the end of Gordon’s Long Monday?
Novel 3, Collisions, features short pieces by Gordon between the chapters from his blog wherein he has even more commentary to make on the Dance Floor Wars. As they attempt to crucify Gordon, he skewers Radical Feminists.
Novel 3 continues with Big Daddy talking over a drink at a bar to Daniel, a reporter he knows from a business magazine. He tells Daniel about Lucinda and his epiphany in her kitchen. He is not unhappy with his thus-far unsuccessful search for a wife and future mother of his children, but honestly, he had no clue it was going to be this difficult or take this long.
Daniel, who is unhappily married but doesn’t know it, meets Marie, divorced from a creep who had been beating their daughters. Daniel and Marie fall in love. Thank God they live on separate coasts and a long-distance serious flirtation ensues. Marie is hit by a drunk driver! She almost dies! Daniel flies to her side. Daniel’s wife is not happy that he disappears for a week, but Daniel doesn’t care what she thinks seeing as how she’s been having affairs for years behind his back and thank you very much for the STD, Bitch.
Daniel arrives home with a beard and things change. Months go by. To see Marie again, Daniel volunteers to take the place of another reporter at an upcoming convention. Nervously expecting his first child, he is happy to have Daniel go in his stead. There Daniel and Marie make love and oh what love it is.
But they must go home. Sadness! Angst! Doubt! Marie needs a man close by, one she can touch. She meets another. Oh, my. What will happen to Daniel and Marie?
We are introduced to Trini and his father-in-law El Elcalde (The Mayor) who, after being beaten by their respective wives, get sick of it and leave Mexico for the U.S. Now illegal aliens, they find work in the construction trade, and have fun at Hydrate, the very club behind which The Reed will be killed.
Trini sees the murder! Trini knows who did it! When The Reed’s body is dumped into a trunk, he hears, “Always in our hearts. Tango Machismo forever.” He is surprised when he later hears about a naked body found behind the club because he clearly saw it being hauled away.
He confides in El Elcalde that he saw a murder. The Mayor advises silence. Months pass. Trini is in Hydrate again and there he hears Tango Machismo forever and sees the murderers. He follows them to where they live. He does not know what to do. This time Trini confides all the details of his surveillance.
El Elcalde freaks out. Tango Machismo?
The very same organization that put the beatdown on him somewhere in South America when he thought he was a hotshot dancer of the Tango? Yes! Oh, Trini, Trini, Trini, why didn’t you tell your father-in-law this detail before?
Never mind. Better the devil you know, says El Elcalde, swearing Trini to silence until he returns, and drives hundreds of miles to a randomly selected public phone booth. Dialing a number he’s never forgotten and that’s been sworn to him to always be in service, who answers but Eternal, head of M.I.S.T.E.R.
El Elcalde sets up a meeting between Eternal and Trini, wherein Trini is scouted as a replacement for The Reed, the very same dead undercover operative for M.I.S.T.E.R., murdered by Tango Machismo behind Hydrate.
After both men receive expedited — don’t ask how — but thoroughly legal proper legal status with the U.S., El Elcalde is sent around the country to meet with various outposts of M.I.S.T.E.R. Trini, on the other hand, receives exhaustive training on how to infiltrate Tango Machismo.
Big Daddy gets married, no thanks to matchmaking services for high-earners, and that’s the truth (“The economy is making it difficult to find men who aren’t broke-ass millionaires. Oops, forget we said that!”) Thank God for Meredith, his longtime assistant who comes up with a brilliant plan that will see Big Daddy through barfing as he changes poopy diapers on the backsides of his soon-to-come precious heirs, and beyond.
The paper hires another reporter to replace Gordon: Firenza, a young woman with fire in her belly who loves Gordon’s reporting but vows to take it further than he. In the meantime, Firenza’s newly divorced editor signed up for an online dating service, but has written a ghastly, nay, repulsive profile. He requests her help in cutting through the bullshit. The ground is set for an undercover operation to report on online dating sites.
We meet a few other sub characters who tell about other necessary parts of the war. Eternal (a/k/a Ted Turner, not that Ted Turner) pops in and out of Novel 3.
Novel 4, Life Cycle of a Fling [working title], continues with the Tango Machismo infil by Trini. El Elcalde hits dance clubs in flyover country. Firenza, our Intrepid Reporter in the Dance Floor Wars, will continue to report on Internet dating services from both the male and female perspective. What is their experience? Why do so many meet with the same disappointment there as they have when finding dates on their own? But wait? Will Firenza follow a trail of bread crumbs laid out by Eternal leading straight to Tango Machismo?
We are introduced to Allison, the Virginity Chronicler, who has lost her virginity so many times she’s ceased counting. Allison kept a diary all these years. She’s thinking of writing a book! What should it be called? How about Deflowering Advice from The Kama Sutra? She’s simply unsure of the title, but believes her advice might save a lot of marriages and, after all, she wants a marriage of her own that she can enjoy.
Then there’s Thomas, the Shy Boy, Allison’s opposite, who himself has been deflowered by many under-appreciated older women. In any case, both Thomas and Allison, staring that old biological clock in the face, are tired of The Fucking Game. What will become of our helpful heroes?
We also meet Sharly Kate and Basilio Cruz, the World’s latest Onscreen Sweethearts who cannot seem to make a bad movie. Privately, they cannot stand each other.
Sharly just wants a man who’ll give her babies and let her putter in the garden and kitchen and will cuddle with her at night and burp the babies, too, as her accidental stardom rolls in the dough.
Basilio is Tango Machismo’s Undercover Man in Hollywood sending out coded recruitment messages to angry and horny young men via his films. Having missed out on recruiting Lucinda, will Eternal sign up Sharly for M.I.S.T.E.R.?
We meet other characters, too. There’s Jackson and Rooster, a near-silent recluse and a chatty barstool psychologist, each living with their own torments and fears, each wishing for someone to understand them. There’s Miranda, who explores The Us in The We. There’s Adalia, who writes math professor Richard a letter about Statistics and Correlation when he has a meltdown after they have awesome sex.
And we see Eternal, head of M.I.S.T.E.R., help Danielle, an extraordinarily caring empath, to understand how best to apply Emotional Triage when she meets wounded men. She practices this on Beckwith, a man in the painful last days of a childless marriage. Beckwith is confused, but moves forward. Will it be with Danielle or not?