13: Would You Like to Dance?

13: Would You Like to Dance?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Would You Like to Dance?

This above all; to thine own self be true.

~William Shakespeare

I am waiting for the boy to ask me to dance. He is the best at doing the jitterbug. He doesn’t ask.

My feelings are determined by junior high school boys, and I am not popular. I will be in high school, but not now. My pride is in the hands of these boys.

That dancer, the most popular boy in school, lives across the street. He is a basketball star, too, although he has not yet grown into a man’s height. He tends to dance with the girls who will also kiss him. He knows how good-looking he is, even at twelve. Many of my classmates are competing to dance with him, to be his girlfriend for a night, a week, a month. He is a sassy charmer. He knows he is number one.

I am not one of the girls who want him, but I love to watch him dance. He is a great dancer who has impeccable rhythm and knows all the latest steps. He is dazzling on the dance floor.

One day, I am twelve, and the next I am sixty-three. The decades have brought me the marriage of my dreams, three incredible careers and a life in which I have been myself. One of my greatest passions is dancing.

My childhood girlfriend is coming into town to attend the fiftieth anniversary of our high school. She talks me into going. I am not sure why she has to talk me into attending because I loved high school. I was president of my junior class and spent four years being part of many activities.

I am not sure that this type of party, which is open to graduating classes spanning fifty years, will offer quality time to reminisce and visit. I receive some phone calls from old friends who have come to town. I decide to go.

A small group of my classmates attend, maybe fifteen or so. Most of these classmates were with me in junior high as well as high school. I am thrilled to see them. One man walks up to me and says my name. I struggle to recognize his face. He then says his name and smiles. It is the star dancer of my adolescence, my former neighbor, the jock my preteen girlfriends lusted after.

We catch up. As others arrive, I greet them and am greeted warmly. Everyone looks great. Sixty-three never looked better. These are the people of my youth. Their place in my life is special. The memories we share are our beginning years.

The band is getting ready to play the oldies. As the music begins, I walk toward the dance floor and turn. He catches my eye as I extend my hand toward him, motioning for him to join me on the dance floor. The best jitterbugger in sixth grade takes my hand, and we engage in a graceful and wild ride, singing the words to every song. He is still a great dancer.

When our dance ends, I motion to another childhood friend and then another. Each man joins me on the dance floor, one at a time. I had never danced with any of them back in our schooldays. Now I am enjoying their individual style and movements. On that dance floor, they are meeting me for the first time. And it is I who has asked them. I chose and picked the men with whom I wanted to dance.

One of my sisters is also there. When I talk to her at the end of the night, she tells me how wonderfully I danced, and how exciting it was that all the boys/men wanted to dance with me.

I smile to myself. I will always love the girl who was twelve and watched the dancers, but a woman of sixty-three never felt better on the dance floor.

~Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

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