101. Red Shoes with Gold Laces

101. Red Shoes with Gold Laces

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

Red Shoes with Gold Laces

Gilda was a dancer,
a ballroom dancer,
her billowing skirts,
held to a tight waist,
by a belt made of
a rainbow of tiny conch shells.
Gilda wore red shoes, with gold laces.
When invited to come play bridge,
even with the luring promises
of meringue coconut cream pie
at the end of the bidding wars,
Gilda would apologize, say her thanks,
and instead go dancing in her
red shoes with gold laces.
Some nights folks at the condo
convoyed to the bingo palaces,
They’d come home smelling from
cigarettes, their fingers tainted
with bingo markers, and sometimes money.
But Gilda preferred to go dancing,
in red shoes with gold laces.
That’s where Gilda and Bill met.
His dancing uniform was a tie
with Nittany Lions on it.
His shoes were old U.S. Navy issue,
with leather soles that could slide,
and never step on the toes of a woman
in red shoes with gold laces.
They slow-danced, an easy, gliding song.
He felt her soft skin and looked into her eyes
but Bill kept his distance,
hummed Glenn Miller in her ear,
and smelled her cologne,
something as old
as his GI Bill college days.
What was that name? It drifted
through memories, White Shoulders,
and he dipped his new Gilda deep and low,
Gilda kept her sweet-smelling balance
Safe in red shoes with gold laces.
And could that Gilda jitterbug.
Her grin picked up the spinning mirrored ball.
Bill didn’t throw her over his shoulder,
nor did she leap up to wrap her legs around his hips,
but for the first time out,
he had no doubt that this was a dancer,
Gilda of the red shoes with gold laces.
Bill knew she was here alone,
There was no wedding band on her pale hand,
so he asked in between sets, about where
love had two-stepped right by her,
Just as it had polka-ed all over him,
She answered, not with vanity,
and not with false modesty.
Her eyelids fluttered like a muted tombstone,
“That husband just didn’t dance enough.”
She made it clear that if the new ones don’t,
“I simply fox trot out of here, and go home alone,
in my red shoes with gold laces.”
A whole dance card later,
Back at her place, trim and neat,
Bill undid those gold laces for her,
Softly, to the rhythm of a Sinatra
tune that danced in his head.
Then Bill kissed those toes
that had twinkled under that soft red leather.
He could tell she liked her feet
Held in reverence like an icon.
Gilda Hoffman kissed Bill on his ear,
And whispered in it, breathlessly,
That he sure knew how to dance,
even if he had never owned
a pair of red shoes with gold laces.

~Dr. Sidney Simon
Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul

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