OK I wouldn’t even know about the movement had I not been sight-seeing in the (Washington D.C.)Capitol Rotunda last week.
Two rather striking girls caught my eye… and wouldn’t let go. Vaguely Middle-Eastern looking, with long black hair, but it was the white dresses which riveted my attention. Long flowing matching garments, a couple yards on the far side of typical tourist-wear, even in the cosmopolitan setting. I quietly vowed not to leave without knowing more, and non-nonchalantly navigated myself to within earshot, near the center of the impressive structure.
They were both slowly turning around and around, as if checking and re-checking the perimeter. Arms folded. Something rang a bell.
“You-uns is Dervishes?” I asked. (When you’re prima-fascia an intrusive boor, might as well use English to match.)
“No.” said the slightly taller girl, not unkindly, and resumed her spinning. Her friend added ‘Nope.” to the dialogue. But at least I had an entree, and decided to persist.
“You sure you guys ain’t Dervish?” I asked again, going for broke.
A few seconds later, when her gyrations coincided with being face to face with me, the taller girl for some reason decided to come clean:
“OK, we’re Dervish. So what?” she admitted,and paused the revolution a second.
I waited until her friend was pointed toward us, which was by chance the precise Woody Allen recommended punch-line timing interval, and said:’
“Funny, you don’t look‘ Dervish!”
And it worked! They both stopped spinning. Apparently it’s tough to spin and laugh at the same time. and I was thrilled to have used a hundred-year old joke as an ice-breaker.
“Hungry?” they asked in unison, and so we found a quiet corner of the Snack Bar, where the details didn’t take too long to emerge.
Turns out they were in DC to work on the up-coming benefit concert mentioned in the Title here. “We Are the Whirled!”, trying to sign up artists to appear, and to put the proper ‘spin’ on the event with the media. Their organization, SCDC (Stop Childhood Dervish Coercion!) was a coalition of various dervish-kids’ rights organizations which have lately united in this ‘Enough is enough” campaign.
“You have no idea what it’s like to grow up dizzy.” the taller girl, who we’ll now call ‘M’ told me. “What’s your name, by the way?”, she asked .
“Just call me ‘Jsolberg’ for now,” I answered. They noticed that I was taking mental notes.
“OMG, from Xanga?” ‘M’ gushed. “We both had sites there, on Friends Lock, so you never saw us on the Front Page. I was ‘spinster909’ and Susan here was ‘revolution_#_ten’. I guess the site is dead now, huh?”
“No, they’re just doing a re-vamp,” I explained, “so for now I’m posting on Word Press.”
“Then call us “S & M”, Susan said, “when you write about it. “There ‘is’ something sadistic about forcing children to spin-in-place in their rooms, now that we mention S&M. We plan to put an end to it.” Mary added.
I was already sympathetic, but eager to know more.
“What-fer kind of names are ‘Susan’ and ‘Mary for nice exotic girls like you?” I blurted out, back into un-washed peasant mode.
“Well, we’re both Turkish originally, of course, but Daddy named me ‘Mary’ just so he could call me ‘Mary-go-round’. Isn’t that obscene?” Mary confided. I turned to Susan, but before I could ask..
“Yeah, ‘Lazy Susan’.” she fairly spit out the despised nickname.
“They’ve been fighting us ever since we did the first demonstration.” ‘S’ continued. “It’s so paternalistic, you see, and ‘Runi-knows‘ is just a symptom..”
“who’re ‘they’?… and ‘Runi knows’?” I asked, half bewildered.
Oh, it’s their web-site, runi_knows.com. The Dervish’ Father-knows bests’ never miss a beat trying to portray us as, you know, whores.” “S’ continued.
“Attention-whores.” ‘M’ felt a need to specify.
I assured them that I’d understood the ‘attention-‘ part, still, no one with a pulse could have failed to notice their ‘healthy’ young bodies. I did my best to slow my pulse, but it became a challenge during the ensuing altercation between the two:
M: “It was ‘your’ idea, the topless thing in the traffic circle, Suzy!’
S: “Hey, sometimes any publicity is good press, but you’re the one made the dumb signs. Geez, what were you thinking!?”
M: “A simple film reference; I thought it was a winner. Proves we’re, you know, Americans.””
S: “OK, ‘Stop the Whirled’, but adding:’We just want to get off!’? And you still wonder why they had to call the cops?”
M: “OK, bygones. But next time we talk first. kewl?”
It was obvious that the two young women were fervently dedicated to their goal, ending the centuries-long tradition of Dervishes forcing their kids to adopt the practice, and we finally parted, an exchange of cell numbers and the whole thing.
I’ll be in D.C for the Concert on the 23rd, and I hope some of my readers will join me. Together we will break the cycle!
Wu: Um… this really happened, JS?
Me: Let’s just say it very well could have. My heart goes out to the poor darlings. You try listening to Blood Sweat and Tears’ stupid ‘Spinning Wheel’ on Repeat all your childhood…
Wu: Oy! guess I was thinking flutes. Or at least Dizzy Gilespie. Or the Beatles ‘Revolver’ album. They gonna be topless at the benefit?
Me: I didn’t ask. Don’t get fixated, little drone. Plus, they prolly spin in bed…