The Writers Guild prompt was “Show us your fancy footwork!” which took Steve back in time.
by Steve Goldfinger
They don’t call me “Twinkle Toes” without reason. No, they do it for laughs. In fact, they call it”Danse Macabre” when I get on the floor.
It all began–or, in truth–didn’t begin when my mother insisted that I take dance lessons from an adolescent neighbor. The girl was 2 years older and 7 inches taller than me as we partnered in her parents’ living room. As her Victrola played out scratchy tunes, I looked up at her slightly sweaty, acne-laden face. I watched her nod as she counted out the rhythm. My feet would plunk down on the spots on the floor that she pointed to with her eyes.
I told my mother not to worry because I would never fall for a girl who liked to dance, so there was no need for me to acquire that particular skill.
And please, Mom, I do not want to take elocution lessons.
When I married Barbara, she had just graduated from Brooklyn College where she had been president of the modern dance company. It was a culmination of years of classes, practice, and performances. I loved watching her dance. I loved everything about her. I foresaw a marriage challenged only at bar mitzvah and marriage celebrations when hired bands would blast out their dance invitations. She was really pretty good at leading me around the floor, smiling as though enjoying herself and not wincing when one of my feet would squash one of hers. Thanks to a lot of at-home practice, the one dance we could do passably well was the cha-cha. I somehow thought of it as a Jewish dance, probably because it was so popular at all those celebrations.
My friend Sam knew only one dance step, which I saw him perform in ludicrous manner many years ago. It was at El Bodegon, a very good Spanish restaurant in Washington that had a small stage facing the tables. Once each evening, the music would boom out from speakers, and two beautiful girls in frilly costumes would come out and perform wild flamenco dances. Then, invariably, they would try to get one of the diners to get up on the stage with them. The Latin music blared when Sam was cajoled into joining them. Then, he launched into the one step he knew…the Charleston. It almost worked if you had drunk enough Valencia.
My most ridiculous dance experience occurred during my internship year at the Massachusetts General Hospital. On a weekend when Barbara was visiting her folks in Brooklyn, my resident–a charming and very persuasive guy–asked…no, virtually commanded…that I “double date” with him. He was going to a square dance with his girlfriend, and her housemate was to be my partner.
And so, she was. Guilt shrouded every second of my time with her. Betrayal, thy name is Stephen! Abandon, ye, all hope of reparation!
I wonder if Myrna is still telling the story about the deaf mute who once took her to a square dance.
Share your memories with the BOLLI community by submitting memoir writing (of approximately 500 words) to BOLLI Matters co-editor Sue Wurster at firstname.lastname@example.org