A Fictional Oral History of the Photograph I Found in an Old Carl Hiaasen Paperback

May 27, 2016 | 1 book mentioned 2 4 min read

FullSizeRender (6)

Arnold Goodman (Center, dancing): What a night! It was my daughter Meredith’s wedding, and I was in the mood to celebrate. Nobody ever thought she’d marry — she had that thing on her lip, for one thing — so to get her married was a very big deal. And Thad was a decent enough guy.

Sylvia Goodman (Pink dress, left): We paid through the nose for that reception; through the nose. It was at that catering hall. The one that used to be on Route 12? I think it’s a car wash now.

Arnold Goodman: I was talking to one of my friends at the office — I was still with the firm then, late-’79 — and he was asking how we were fixed for dancers. I said, “Dancers?”

Richard Gold (Back to the camera, brown suit, far right): I couldn’t believe Arnie hadn’t thought of hiring dancers. I said, “You’re going to have a disc jockey, right? Well, you’re gonna need some dancers.” The thing was, I already had some dancers in mind.

Gina Thomas (Dancer, right): I’d been with the Space Cadettes for a few months at that point, and when we got the Goodman Wedding, I didn’t think much of it. Just another gig, you know?

Bette Wenger (Dancer, center): That night would change our lives.

Danny Lampton (Mustache and glasses, right): The thing I’ll always remember was how boring the actual ceremony was. I mean — and I don’t mean any offense — I don’t think anyone really wanted to be there. It was like going to the dentist’s. And then we walked into the reception room, and it’s all brown in there, you know — it was the ’70s; everything was brown.

Gina Thomas: We were all set up; the ceremony was in the room next door. And when the people started coming in, they all looked like they’d been through like a seminar or something. Just no emotion at all.

Sylvia Goodman: Meredith and Thad aren’t the most dynamic types.

Meredith Goodman (Bride, not pictured): We went to Scranton on our honeymoon. We’d heard there was a diner there that had really good French onion soup.

Peter Taylor (DJ, not pictured): Everyone came in, got a drink, mingled around. And I started with “Love You Inside Out,” the Bee Gees song. It was a big hit at the time. And that really kicked things off.

Arnold Goodman: I’m no dancer, so I went to the bar, had a Scotch and soda. But during the second or third song, something just came over me. And it wasn’t the Scotch. That had nothing to do with it.

Peter Taylor: The second song was “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” by Rod Stewart. And I remember the dad just got this look in his eye and started jerking around. For a second, I thought he was having a stroke.

Sylvia Goodman: All the planning, all the worrying about Meredith maybe being an old maid…It all just came out on that dance floor [for Arnold]. He didn’t even like Rod Stewart — he thought he was too “rock and roll” — but that song came on, and it was off to the races.

Danny Lampton: When he saw those space chicks out there, his eyes just lit up.

Richard Gold: I saw him looking at the Cadettes, and I was like, “Told you so, Arnie!”

Meredith Goodman: I’ve never seen Dad like that, never. It was amazing, but it was also a little scary.

Arnold Goodman: I didn’t even take my jacket off. I couldn’t get my hands to work the buttons, I was so worked up. I started to dance, and I just couldn’t stop.

Peter Taylor: Blondie, Gloria Gaynor, Peaches & Herb…the guy was a maniac. You ever see Michael Jackson at the Soul Train awards? The first time he moonwalked? Legendary, right? The intensity, the moves? Well, I shit you not: Arnold Goodman was right there with him that night.

Richard Gold: That was the first time I ever saw breakdancing. That’s right: Arnie was fuckin’ breakdancing. Spinning around on his back like a turtle, hopping all over. A few years later, I saw a commercial for Breakin’ and I was like, “Holy shit! That’s what Arnie was doing!”

Bette Wenger: Here’s this mild-mannered guy — at least he looked mild-mannered — who’s just tearing it up out there, like nothing I’d ever seen. I was a professional dancer, and I couldn’t keep up.

Gina Thomas: I thought he was the sexiest thing I ever saw.

Arnold Goodman: Having those girls there in their little silver suits, that certainly didn’t hurt.

Sylvia Goodman: I remember at one point, those dancers were watching him…and it was like they were looking at Paul Newman or George Hamilton or someone… almost with lust in their eyes.

Gina Thomas: The way he was going, it was almost like…he was showing us what was possible. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and honestly, I think it might’ve been like…being in the crowd when the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. It was just so unexpected. Like you’re taking out the garbage, and there’s a unicorn in your backyard.

Sylvia Goodman: I tried to go out and dance with him at one point, but it was no use. I said, “Arnie, you’re going to hurt yourself.” They had to cancel the father-daughter dance because he couldn’t slow down. It’s a shame, too, because they were going to use this Johnny Mathis song that I just loved.

Peter Taylor: He was so possessed that at one point, I put on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” — the Streisand/Neil Diamond tune — just to calm him down. But he just kept going, going, going — like if I’d put on “Le Freak” or something.

Danny Lampton: Three words for Arnie that night: Raw. Animal. Sexuality.

Arnold Goodman: The funny thing is, I was in such a state, I don’t remember anything about it. Cocktail hour, dinner, my speech: it’s all a blur. I might not have even made a speech; who knows.

Meredith Goodman: We had to cancel his speech. Honestly, I didn’t think it was so great, having him dancing like that. It was like having an escaped mental patient crash your wedding.

Arnold Goodman: What I do remember about that night is the hotel room afterwards. Let’s just say that Sylvia was the “beneficiary” of my mood.

Sylvia Goodman: I think he might’ve been thinking about those dancers — especially the one with the curly hair? But it was nice. It was like we were teenagers again.

Gina Thomas: It’s been 35 years — more than that — and I still think about him. I wonder if he thinks of me.

Arnold Goodman: Like I said, that night was a total blur. Luckily, I have the pictures. Or at least most of them. There’s one in particular that seems to have gone missing. For the life of me, I can’t imagine where it got off to. But it’s okay. I’m sure it’ll turn up.

is a staff writer for The Millions and an associate editor at MAD magazine. Find links to more of his work and follow him @Jacob_Lambert.


  1. THE GIRL IN THE LEFT CORNER: The continuing story of the old Carl Hiaasan Photo

    Connie Figuera was trying to figure out how to get to the drink cart and start serving without anyone seeing the stain on the back of her dress. She needed to stick around long enough to get through this gig. That lady Mrs. Goodman hadn’t paid her yet, and Darla was really on her about the rent and the money she owed her for the bus they took out to the Ramones concert in Illinois.

    She had to do something, so she backed up to the curtain and slipped through the big rip over by the wet bar. Phew. The ladies room was empty and she headed for the back stall. Oh God. It was worse than she’d thought. WHY had she worn a grey dress? It was bad, but not BAD bad, and not Thank You Jesus what she had thought when she was two weeks late, that guy, that guy Donnie who said he was a roadie for the Ramones but was NOT a roadie, just a stupid house painter, and they got drunk on Strawberry Ripple and she never met even JOEY Ramone. Darla was the one who told her about this wedding job, she was the catering secretary and heard those dancers, those Cadette girls were talking about it when they came in, God what BITCHES, and after they left the place stunk like Charley perfume for two hours. Darla told her Mrs. Goodman needed another waitress. OH NO, it had seeped all the way through, a big red blotch! That guy Donnie never called back, thank God, thank God, thank God she got her period, but what about this mess?! She snuck to the sink and got some water, and dabbed but it only made a bigger, pinker blotch. Oh God.

    The door clicked and Mrs. Wheeler came in, with the Fanta orange dress and the sweater. She was hanging out by the back curtain with her and that old pervert Joey Giletta, who kept backing into her “by mistake” with his stupid-ass grin, he thought he was Tom Selleck but he was old, at least 45, and that was such BULLSHIT! She always liked Mrs. Wheeler, she taught sixth grade. Mrs. Wheeler looked at her and looked at the blotch and Connie started to cry.

    Mrs. Wheeler took off her white sweater and wrapped it around her waist and pooched it out so it covered the blotch. Gina was SO embarrassed, this was going to wreck the sweater maybe unless you were brilliant at stain removal, but Mrs. Wheeler just smiled.

    “Sweetie, I teach 6th graders. They have all kinds of accidents.” What a nice lady.

    Connie got back to work. God Mr. Goodman must be HAMMERED! She rolled around and passed out the rest of the G&T’s, slugged a couple down behind the curtain, and decided she would, after all, give her number to Peter that DJ guy cuz didn’t those guys always get the best coke? Suddenly things didn’t seem so bad. The party was almost over, that Ramone guy Donnie had been a doofus house painter anyway, and she and Gina had tickets to Blondie.

  2. The creepy guy just to the right of The Girl At The Left of the Picture is, I swear, staring right at me, deep down into my soul, 35 years across the time space continuum. #Creepy

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.