A song was all it took for Melinda to remember the Primary School dance
|Melinda hadn't heard that song for some twenty years. The tune came faintly through the hedge she was walking past, and as it always had, it took her back to the time she first heard it.
It was the day of the school end-of-year dance. The Platter Party, the dance was called, which had seemed to be a funny name. Many of the Form One and Two girls had never been allowed to go to a dance before. Melinda felt terribly sophisticated in her dress with its full skirt, and her new sling-back shoes. Mum had done her hair in a pony tail and tied a ribbon around it.
At 6 o'clock sharp she joined her friends outside the town hall, and they stood together giggling and eyeing the boys who were so smart they could hardly be recognised as the young ruffians that teased them at school.
Melinda like dancing but she wasn't very good at it, so she stood nervously on the side of the hall while the teachers, who also looked different to when they were at school, encouraged the boys and girls to dance. Only when the floor was quite crowded with dancing children did she join in. No-one cared about partners; they just danced and had fun, so Melinda relaxed and began to enjoy herself. She found she could jive with the rest of them, and she swung and twisted as she never had before.
Then she moved sideways suddenly and crashed into someone and fell heavily to the floor. She turned to glare at whoever had got in her way and saw a boy also sitting on the floor, holding his nose and blinking, while the dancing went on energetically around them.
The boy, who Melinda didn't know very well for he was in another class, looked at her. When he smiled, she could tell he felt about as silly as she did, so she smiled back. They both got up clumsily as the music finished and a teacher told the children to sit down for a short interval.
Melinda and the boy, whose name, she remembered, was Thomas, sat together on the school chairs around the edge of the hall, and Melinda wondered how they had got there. She wanted to rub her bottom where she had landed so hard, but sat still for the ten minutes, feeling very selfconscious.
When the music started, it was a tune she hadn't heard before. The words "Hey there, Georgie Girl" came over the speakers, and the children began to stand up and dance again. Melinda was wondering what to do, when Thomas stood up. He turned to Melinda.
"C'mon, be my Georgie Girl, just for one dance" and her reached out towards her hand. To her own surprise, Melinda put her hand into his, and with unexpected excitement followed him onto the floor. Together they danced and twirled, grinning at each other, and they were laughing crazily by the time the song ended.
Melinda was disappointed when the tune changed. She and Thomas kept on dancing, but the magic was gone, and in the next song, they drifted apart.
Soon after 8 o'clock, parents were peering in the door to see where their children were. By then Melinda was tired, and was glad to see her Dad. As she took his hand and they left the hall, she turned to find Thomas to say goodbye, but couldn't see him.
She didn't see him at school next day either, the last school day of the year.
Next year she started High School, and Thomas didn't go to her school.
She only thought of Thomas when she heard the song "Georgie Girl", which remained popular for some time. She would smile and remember that fun time they'd had at that dance, when they were just Primary School kids.
She still like dances, and went to one whenever she could. The music and the dancing were different by the time she was at Varsity, and sometimes she felt nostalgic for the rock-n-roll of her childhood. So when the local Lions club advertised a fundraising Rock-n-Roll night, she bought herself a ticket.
She would go by herself, as her current boyfriend didn't like music more than six months old. She searched the Op Shop for clothes like what people used to wear when she was at primary school, and chose a white frilly blouse, a full skirt, white ankle socks and shiny black shoes.
She arrived at the dance in anticipation of a fun evening, and was soon immersed in the music and dancing. One dance tune followed right after another, and she danced so energetically that she had to sit one dance out to catch her breath.
She leaned back in her chair, resting her head on the wall behind, and let "Blue Suede Shoes" surge around her. When it finished there was a pause in the music, and she looked at the band to see what was going on. A young man in white shirt, black stovepipe trousers and pointed shoes was talking earnestly with the lead singer. The band had a brief confab, then prepared to play again.
To Melinda's delight, the song was "Georgie Girl", which wasn't really rock-n-roll, but no-one seemed to notice. She got up at once to dance, but someone was standing right in front of her. It was the man who had talked to the band, and she moved sideways to get past him and join in the dancing. He also moved sideways, holding his hand out and saying,
"C'mon, be my Georgie Girl, just for one dance!" Melinda stared, and recognised Thomas, from the Primary School dance. She lifted her hand towards his, and he took it and led her onto the dance floor.
Melinda found she was dancing like she'd never danced before. She looked at Thomas as she twirled and jived, and he looked steadily at her. She knew that he was familiarising himself with the grown-up Melinda, just as she was adjusting her mind to the grown-up Thomas.
When "Georgie Girl" came to and end, and "Jailhouse Rock" roared through the room, Thomas and Melinda stood in the middle of the crowd with the dancing gyrating around them. Thomas gestured to the chairs, and Melinda followed and sat down beside him, thinking that her body was acting without her conscious control.
Melinda realised that she had stopped by the hedge and was staring at it. She wondered if once again her body was acting without her mind's control. She smiled as the song came to an end, and walked on home.
"I heard 'Georgie Girl' on the way home," she told Tom as she came into the kitchen.
"Yeah, on the radio, I heard it too", and he grinned at her. "I haven't heard it for years. Still gets you though, eh?"
As they shared a long hug, Melinda had to agree. Tom still got to her, without even trying.