by jack benny
A very short story of why I watch others dance. Comments are welcome!
It’s summertime, at the beach in the early eighties. The bar is thumping with music, dizzying lights sweep through gyrating bodies dancing in skimpy beach clothes. If there’s anything to get a young guy’s guts churning more than that I’d like to hear it.
By any standard, she was magnificent. Seated on a tall barstool that showed off her ankle-crossed legs, she made aloof a noun. Her long auburn hair was combed so much it shimmered. One silver beret swept bangs away so everyone could admire her hazel eyes. One of those girl drinks sat in front of her. It had umbrellas and fruit that bobbed around in some liquid of an unnatural shade of blue. A crisp white tank top with sunglasses snuggling down the front and short purple skirt covered her. An orange bathing suit peaked from underneath here and there knowing where to show itself to be alluring. She must be staying at her parent’s oceanfront, window studded, round beach house. She didn’t need hours preening, she was naturally fantastic and knew it. A misty cloud of confidence and class enveloped her, making her glimmer.
I stood across the room at a waist high table with no chairs, littered with beer bottles, a spilled ashtray and four soggy paper coasters. My hair was plastered down the left side of my head from a dip in the ocean. Earlier that day I had been trying in vain to soothe my second degree sunburn with its cool waters. It didn’t work. I did succeed however in being covered in sticky salt and blood from stepping on a shell that had nearly amputated my little toe. Still, I could envision opening the passenger door for her to my ancient faded Plymouth for a romantic drive along the surf. Her hair blowing in slow motion.
Now came the hard part. The only pick up lines I knew came from old Richard Burton movies. That wouldn’t do. Should I buy her a drink? I didn’t know what her fufu drink was called, but it looked more expensive than the $14.38 I had burning a hole in my pocket. That left me with the worst alternative…the dreaded dance. I don’t know if you realize the magnitude of asking a girl to dance, especially an Aphrodite in white and purple that has a halo of light reflecting from her. It takes huge courage to even walk across the floor, not alone utter the words “would you like to dance?”
Will she think I’m ugly? Maybe my nose is too big. Am I walking cool? Please don’t let me stutter. What if I have BO? I’m sure to look like a fool out there. How do I get back to my table if she turns me down? Will she notice my mismatched socks? I went through all of the thoughts, trepidations, mind numbing reasons not to, but my feet apparently had a mind of themselves. Without my knowledge or permission I was already walking to her.
My head itched from three quarters of a ton of sand happily buried in my hair.
Sweat trickled down my neck.
I had a strange urge to sneeze.
I steeled up what courage I had, (fueled a bit by alcohol to give me liquid courage) and I asked her if she would like to dance. She turned ever so slowly, prolonging my agony. With a smile that lit up the room almost as much as my sunburn she replied:
” Yes, but not with you.”