Monday, March 23, 2009

Save the last dance for me

It was Saturday night. Midnight? I was on the dance floor of a smokey bar dancing to Funky Cold Medina with the rest of my cast. A cover band wearing odd, mismatched hats was on the stage, performing this relic from my youth. Even scarier, one of the girls I was with knew every word.

In high school I danced to this song in the cafeteria. The harsh and cold fluorescent lights that divided us into table castes at lunchtime would be off, and I would dance with my friends to anything with a decent beat. When a slow song came on I would go and stand against the wall, transformed from dancing queen to wallflower. I'd watch as my latest crush asked another girl to dance. My arm would creep up my side, my fingers releasing slowly from their fist and spreading outward. "Bloom," I'd say to the friend next to me.

Back in the smokey bar a slow song has started. I stand with my friends against the back wall, holding my hair up to cool off my neck. It is too loud for conversation. I watch the band. I look around at the crowd, guessing the regulars, wondering how the birthday girl is still standing, let alone dancing. I watch the couples dance, the women in their stripper shoes and low cut dresses eyeing the men at the bar. I imagine, for a moment, another life.

In the cafeteria, my dance card is full. Every dance with the same boy. Cute, an athlete. Other girls watch from the wall.

College. Frat parties and sorority formals. Photo albums full of me in cute dresses and the same guy in a shirt and loosened tie.

Years later. A smokey bar, not far from the high school cafeteria. We walk in, and our friends wave from the corner. We smile at the bass player, an old friend. We order the usual, and head for the dance floor. The same songs, for over a decade now, but they still make my heart race and my toes tap. When the slow song comes on there's no looking around, no wondering when the next dance song will start. Everything is a dance song when you have a partner.

_________________

In high school I was ready to get out, away from the cafeteria, away from the lunch table caste system. I went away for school. I went away for life. And I wouldn't go back and do it any differently.

But the other night, in the bar? I could see me, in another life. A regular at the bar. Dancing with old friends.

19 comments:

flutter said...

Oh this was so beautiful!

Woman in a Window said...

Maypole, this is gorgeous. My all time favourite of your posts. Yum, this is.

Mary G said...

What a wonderful piece of writing. And so true. There are so many people we could have been.

Amelia said...

Gorgeous writing, Maypole.

Kat said...

Beautiful post. I can relate.

Loved it. :)

Aunt Becky said...

I had no idea that this was the name of the song. Honestly.

Mad said...

I love your ability to see the beauty and wonder in both lives. Too many people would dismiss the alternative life with all sorts of movie cliche scenarios, but not you. It's one of the many reasons I love coming here.

All Rileyed Up said...

I often imagine myself in a different life, seeing some things so clearly they're almost real. But it always comes back to the knowledge that I wouldn't do it any differently. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing this!

Cold Spaghetti said...

Love this.

And now cannot get Funky Cold Medina out of my head.

E said...

A simple and gorgeous piece of writing.....the quiet glimpse of the other life...lovely Maypole. Perfect even

Laski said...

What a great, great post! You took me back right from Funky Cold Medina!

The music, I loved. The fashions . . . not so much. Standing on the wall and observing, watching, wishing. Yeah, I'm OK with leaving it where it is . . .

kaye said...

I got out the old tunes--guess what? I can still sing most of them word for word. I guess the past never leaves, for good or ill it's part of what makes us who we are

niobe said...

I think this is one of my absolute favorite posts ever -- such beautiful, incredibly vivid writing.

Furrow said...

I might just know all the words to that song. Lovely, lovely post. "Bloom"? Drama kid. Brilliant.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

This was fantab PM and that song Funky Cold Medina is still on my ipod. Sad but true!

JCK said...

The thought of that song makes me laugh.

This was a beautifully written post! And how fun to just let your imagination go off for a bit ...imagining another life. You sound so content with yours! It's a good place to be.

Kyla said...

I was a wallflower. Never danced to the fast songs, though, I had my share of awkward slow dance partners. LOL.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Funky Cold Medina... I don't have that on my ipod yet!

alejna said...

Would you believe that I had to look up that song, and still don't know it?

But this was a really intriguing and beatifully written post.