Rita agrees to participate despite...
| TODAY'S PROMPT:
I love watching Dancing with the Stars- the choreography is so fun, and some celebrities really do go all-out on the performances. Your prompt today is to write from the Star's perspective. You've just been cast on the show- what's next?
The phone rings; Rita answers, "Yes?"
"Rita, it's Sal." (Her agent)
"Listen to this. I just got a call from the producers of 'Dancing With the Stars.' They want you to be on the show. Isn't that great?"
Rita sighs and says, "Sal, I'm 87 years old. My dancing days are over [pause] for ages."
Sal continues with, "But think of it, Rita...your appearance could rejuvenate your career. Imagine the press: 'Rita Moreno Returns.' It's a gold mine!"
"I'm happy, Sal. I don't need any annoyances in my life at this point."
"Annoyances? What are you alking about? You know how to dance. You have stage and movie set experience. And fans of yours would love to see you on 'Dancing With the Stars.' Think of them, Rita!"
"At this point, most of them are dead. Who are you referring to?"
"But, Rita, think of the publicity - you could become a household name overnight!"
"Sal, I've been in the business for almost 70 years...I've never been, nor will I ever be, a 'household name' if that term is still relevant. Sal, you're starting to show your age. We're not in the 1950s and 1960s anymore...this is the Internet era; I don't understand it, but I hear it's powerful - especially for an 87-year-old woman to be gyrating in front of a national, or possibly, international audience and making a fool of herself. NO THANKS!"
"Rita, please...please...calm down."
"Listen to me, Sal. I won't do it for personal reasons."
Sal audibly sighs and continues with, "What personal reasons? I thought we were on the up-and-up? What are you referring to, Rita?"
[Several (many) seconds of silence]
"It's personal and I don't wish to discuss it, Sal."
"Okay, can you give me a valid and believable excuse why you won't appear on the show?"
"No, Sal, I can't."
"I don't understand. I've been managing your career for over 30 years, right?"
"And have I ever steered you in the wrong direction in that time?"
"No, Sal, you haven't, but-
"So, what's the problem? You go to ABC studios, you 'pretend' to learn a dance, then perform on taping night. What's the issue, Rita?"
"I'll tell you, but you can't tell anyone else...agreed?"
"Yeah, sure; what, Rita?"
"I can't control my bladder. I pee almost all the time. I don't want to pee on national TV,. The puddle or traces of pee will be humiliating. What if my partner dances into it and falls? I wouldn't be able to handle the shame of uncontrollable urination." [pause] "Sal?"
"Okay, that was a little more than I expected, but let's move forward. Look, did you know you get $100,000 per episode...and the season can run for 12 or so weeks, if you remain in the competition - which I have no doubt you will...you could potentially earn more than a million dollars in a few months, Rita."
[silence from both ends of the phones]
"Emm, a million dollars, you say, Sal?"
"Yes, Rita...have I ever lied to you?"
Three weeks later, the producer of "Dancing With the Stars" phones Rita to let her know who she'd be partnered with: by luck it is Ricardo Dilucci, a Puerto Rican/Italian dancer originally from Puerto Rico but now is known for his choreography in Hollywood. Rita calls Sal who instructs her over the phone how to Google "Ricardo Dilucci" and learn more about him...she follows Sal's directions and is pleased with what she learns about her partner..."Erm, I'd dance with him for $10, let alone $100,000!"
For two weeks, Rita and Ricardo get to know each other, feel out individual dancing styles/techniques, and choices of music. Rita excuses herself many times to use the ladies' room, exclaiming each time about "...something I drank...so sorry...I'll be right back..." Ricardo never questions her frequent absences - attributing them to Rita's age.
Week 12 of "Dancing With the Stars" is set to go live...it's the finals - there are only two couples left to compete: Rita/Ricardo and new teen sensation Delisha and her partner, Don...the age discrepancies are quite evident to all in attendance (a studio audience filled with avid, rabid fans of DWTS) and the energy in the studio is palpable.
The first number is an orchestral "Blue Danube" - a beautifully written waltz and performed immaculately by both couples; rounds of applause shower both after their performances.
The second, and last, number is a salsa. Heads nod in the audience; murmuring favors Rita/Ricardo over Delisha/Don because of Rita and Ricardo's Latin roots - essentially handing them the mirrored-ball.
First to perform are Delisha and Don...Delisha sports a multi-colored, flowy skirt that she lifts and twirls to the heavy, sultry beat of the sounds. The song comes to an abrupt end with Don dipping Delisha, whose body is almost parallel to the dance floor. The audience explodes with cheers and applause.
Rita/Ricardo enter, ready for their last try. The in-house orchestra plays the opening pulsating notes and Rita/Ricardo are off-and-running: they twirl, they whirl, they stomp, they kick...they are owning the place; the audience stands and applauds and hoots and hollers as they watch this couple tackle the salsa.
...while in the middle of a lift (Ricardo lifting Rita), a puddle appears on the dance floor. Ricardo slightly falters; Rita looks uneasy in his raised arms. She mouths, "I'm sorry."
Ricardo slips and crashes to the dance floor with the humiliated Rita in his broken arms.
The contest is over.
Later, in a post-show interview, Rita, seated beside Sal, her agent, when asked about the mishap on stage - indeed, on live TV - replies, "Let's look at it this way-"
Sal interrupts with, "She did it her way."
Rita and Sal went for coffee at a diner after the shooting; "Well, that was certainly something, huh?" Sal says.
Rita, taking a sip, replies, "I just couldn't help myself...I'm 87-years-old, for crying out loud. What did they expect: the Gerber baby?"