Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening

Unexpectedly, life will turn a corner and it’s abruptly sadder and not as much fun, at least for a while. The phone that rang with good news of babies being born, new houses being built, and voyages taken, now rings with news that someone beloved has died, a home has been lost, or an accident has altered a good life that was being lived vividly.

I was having just such a period when a dear friend asked me go to a country-western bar with her. “You need a good time”, she implored. I implored back, “Have you MET me?”. My life is about Bronte, Austen, Keats, theater, ballet and not about cowboy boots, beer, and fiddles. All mistaken stereotypes, I know....

After much cajoling, I realized that perhaps I did indeed need a good time, even if it was in a saloon with a flashing neon “Bud Light” sign.  I told my friend I would go for two hours only.

Soon after entering the darkened place, we were both asked to dance. My partner turned out to be a darling older gent in a cowboy hat whose day job was repairing flagpoles. He was a true gentleman who patiently taught me the two step and was interesting to talk to (how else would I now know that flagpoles break? A lot.) Being significantly older than I, we had no expectations of seeing each other again. My friend was luckier, however. Her partner had pulled me aside a minute after stepping through the door and asked for an introduction. He was smitten at first sight and they danced together for the entire evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the other dancers take to the scarred wooden floor in a happy rhythm. I learned that the lyrics of country music can be poignant to the point of tearful tenderness. I picked up the chorus of a few twangy numbers and sang along with a beer mug in my hand. My dance partner put his arm about my shoulders and sang with me. My friend and her new man were enchanting to watch under the strangely modified disco ball that sprinkled stardust across the dance floor. I saw that the female guitarist is actually the corporate attorney on the third floor of my office building. I couldn’t remember when I had such a grand time. It was a jovial night filled with new friends, music, stars and even romance.  And for a time, while we were there, nobody died.  Not one person.

PS ….and dear readers, my friend married him. She really did!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Girl I Used to Be

I saw my younger self today…while I was shoe shopping. I gasped inwardly and stopped dead in my tracks for a moment. It wasn’t just the long straight brown hair with the center part and the shapely legs. It was the profile, the great tip off that it was indeed me at 19. I followed her for a step or two. She was unaware that I was glancing at her from the corner of my eye. I was mesmerized to see myself in the flesh, younger, prettier, lovelier.

A slight ache … why exactly? Her unsuspecting beauty, her naive allure? At that age, I let others dictate my worth, my value, my attractiveness. It was the age I simply did not know how beautiful I really was or more importantly, who I really was.

I shrugged the ache away and meandered the aisles but when I reached the check out, there I was again, directly in front. I became aware that my lovely self was trying to make a choice between two pairs of sandals, just having been informed that her credit card could only pay for one. The clerk was barely hiding her impatience, the line was queuing. Quietly, I offered, “The taupe snakeskin will be more versatile”. My younger self looked up gratefully, relieved, and for a moment her brown eyes held my brown eyes. She snorted, a short uneasy giggle escaped, and then a barely muttered “Uh...thanks”.

Through the store’s plate glass window, I watched my younger self fade into the vast parking lot. My reflection in the window came back to me suddenly with a tender smile upon my lips.  Bless her little heart.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring Dance

For spring, Valentino has done some gorgeous party dresses. There’s a navy chiffon short number with embroidered flowers and a full skirt, some beautiful fitted lace sheaths in exquisite colors. Sweet feminine fluff that would never allow for wall hugging at a spring dance and I do love a nice spring dance. There are many on film that enchant me with their voile dresses, tuxedoed dance partners, strains of orchestra music. My first spring dance was a bit of a trial though. It was 8th grade and I wanted to wear a hip dress like the polka dot one above. Mini-skirts and fanciful dresses were everywhere, as well as bright happy colors, patterned tights, and square toed patent leather shoes. But my grandmother was still making all my special occasion dresses and she created a lovely simple white pique dress with a baby blue satin sash around its empire waist.  The sash ended in the back with a big floppy bow. I didn’t love my dress.

The school gym was hot and very crowded. I spent the evening hugging the wall, hoping I wouldn’t be asked to dance and hoping I would. I cannot recall if I danced or not – mostly likely it was with a pal. I do remember studying all the fashions that were swinging and twisting across the dance floor before me though. The striped dresses with chain belts, the lace blouses tucked into dirndl skirts, even a few pairs of white go-go boots. The girls, I noticed, looked like they were models right out of the latest Seventeen magazine tossed on the floor beside my bed. I could see the Yardley Slicker-ed lips, the frosted eye shadows, I even think I detected Wind Song, most likely pilfered from an older sister’s dresser. As I stood observing, I made a plan to ask my grandmother for more upbeat clothes in the future and knowing how she loved me, a trickle of guilt infused my fashion reverie.

It’s funny, I had dinner recently with an old school friend I haven’t seen in over 30 years. We both recall being at that same dance and yet we never noticed each other. He spent the night leaning up against a massive throbbing speaker grooving to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, a song I abhorred. His primary memory is that he walked home completely deaf in one ear. Our recollections made us laugh, my first experience as a wall flower and my determination for more exciting clothes, his favorite song and his strange and muffled toddle home.

The next morning, my friend telephoned to say he enjoyed my company. “I couldn’t stop thinking about something though”, he said. And then..softly, “The white dress with the blue satin sash. It kept me awake”.

Great spring dance scenes can be found in these films:
Mrs. Miniver, American President, Houseboat, Since You Went Away, To Sir with Love