Blog 2276 -01.14.2022
Music, laughter, and dancing are three shortcuts to happiness that immediately come to mind. I admit that music and laughter are the two of the three that I have employed most often this go round, but I have danced and not just my happy dance alone like Peanut’s Snoopy.
Except for country square dancing that I was taught in elementary school, the Charleston, and the Twist that I learned from junior high classmates I had few dance steps memorized in the spring of my senior year in high school as that spring’s prom night approached. I had already secured the proper signed permission slip so that my two years and three grades younger girlfriend could be my plus one at the Chattanooga Central High Junior Senior Prom of 1968. But, before picking up an orchid corsage for her to wear on her beautiful dress I had to learn how to waltz her around the floor without embarrassing myself or her too much.
A girl friend of my younger brother volunteered to give up more than a few of her evenings to teach me to waltz. So to one of her favorite forty-fives, Floyd Cramer playing Last Dance, I waltzed around her parent’s living room floor with my brother Robert’s friend Linda till I was confident I could do the same thing at the Harris County Pavilion, where the grocery store I sacked groceries for had held their annual Christmas party and that was soon to be the site of my high school’s prom night, with Barbara Ann Barefield. After all these years all I have left of that night besides a wonderful memory of young love is a faded and blurry photograph taken of the two of us together before the prom.
I married that little girl six days before I left for Vietnam in early January 1970. I wrote her faithfully every day for the eleven months that I was away. Her letters stopped coming four months before I returned. She had as the Hee Haw song says…”Found another and (blowing by tongue noise) she was gone.” Still I can advise others as another country song says, “If you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” I tried marriage two more times before failing at it three times in a row. Even the third time was not “the charm” as the saying goes, though I did get my wonderful daughter Emily out of that one. My fourth and finally wife that I refer to as my loving and lovely wife Linda, my one true wife, loves to dance, and has taught me more moves than that first Linda or any other lovely person that I have ever danced with. Our time together has not always been smooth sailing, and the storms still threaten from time to time as we both are very strong willed and often disagree over who should be leading a particular dance in the big ball that is our life together.
One of the many things that I no longer buy in the Bible is that verse about the man being the head of the wife and of it being the wife’s duty to always submit to the will of her husband. Horse spit, sounds like some kind of Stepford Wife fantasy/scary movie to me. I have always wanted a girl just like the girl that married dear ole dad, strong willed as my daddy certainly was, my mama’s was by far the stronger willed. They stayed together forty-seven years till my father died. Though theirs was not perhaps the happiest of unions it produced two strong and willful sons. In an often very stormy life, their love held fast. How they could go at it hammer and tongs. They must have had great make-up sex because they sure could dance and get each other’s blood up.
I grew up in a very narrow fundamentalist cult that was way more “mental” than “fun.” My church frowned upon boys and girls doing anything together especially of a fun nature like swimming, dancing, or going to the movies. Needless to say few young people came to that church or stayed coming very long once they learned the steps to that particular dance. I met Barbara in that little church. Her grandparents forced her and her brother and sister to attend as my mother had me. and my brother. We had to lie about the prom saying it was just a banquet before Barbara’s grandparents would let her attend.
Even though that tiny dancer would barely two years later become my wife and a few months later crush my young heart, I am still glad we danced and wish with all my heart that like the seventies Coke commercial that I could teach the whole world to sing and to dance as well. What a delighting and more inviting world this would be.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
Real men do dance, real women too, sometimes even together.
Floyd Cramer-Last Dance