Some of you already know part of the story I am about to tell you. Some of you don't know this at all and may think I am just pulling your leg, but it's a true story! It all started back in the mid 60's when I was in the 9th grade.
School started as it normally will, with everyone happy to see each other after the long summer holiday. Our gang was back with a few new students to swell the
population. There was one in particular. He was in my Math class I think .He was sort of tall and lanky with dorky hair (we said words like dorky back then instead of geeky or nerdy) and he had pimples .That wasn't a problem though, for I had pimples too, but it was the whispers that I almost would hear in the halls or the lunchroom .
He was kind, shy, and quiet. I couldn't imagine what they were saying about him. Then one day in gym class I over heard some girl say that he was a dancer. Well, that’s not a bad thing I thought. Big deal, right? Oh, but it turned out it Was a Big Deal. Because back in the mid 60's, "the times where a changing " in the immortal words of Bob Dylan. Cool kids danced cool dances. Definitely not cool, was the type of dancing that this boy was rumored to have been seen dancing in a public place. He danced TAP. Tap, I ask you, like all those old black and white movies from the fabulous 40's and 50's. Kids in the 60's were dancing dances named the Mash Potato, the Swim, the Bougaloo, and the Skate. Absolutely not TAP!
I bet about now you are asking what this all means to you .Be patient. Fast forward four years and my first job .I was a salesperson in a swank store. We had several departmental supervisors come and go. We were introduced to a new one that turned out to be a keeper. She stayed the distance and we became fast friends.
She was from my side of town and would occasionally give me a lift home after working late .She was also a nag .This woman would constantly tell me all about her handsome nephew that she wanted me to meet. We were the same age, ectra, ectra! I turned her down everyway I could politely think of until finally I just told her I wasn't interested in meeting him. I was young. I underestimated her.
We had to work over time during Christmas and I needed a ride home late one night. She said she didn't mind taking me home since she had to stop at her sisters dance studio that was on the corner of the street where I lived. The studio was like a lot of things we see everyday and never really notice. It was just there, you know? I told her I had no problem with that and when she pulled up in front of the studio she asked me did I want to come in to see some of the dancers ?I felt shy about going inside with her.
When I was about five years old my mother had enrolled me into dance class. I was told not to come back after the very first day because I couldn't get the hang of "I'm a Little Tea Pot ". The shameful secret is I am not too terribly coordinated .I still can't walk and chew gum. She saw me hesitate and said that she wanted to introduce me to her sister .So, I went inside the studio.
It was dark inside with a milling mass of students practicing different forms of dance. Across the room I caught sight of something so awesome in it's grace and form, that it has been seared into my mind to this day .Adonis had leaped high into the air, legs, arms extended, reaching for some unseen object. The world stopped as he was suspended in the element that was clearly all his own. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I once saw Nurveye flying through the air in the Nutcracker ballet. He made me think of that dancer I saw that night. My friend noticed me staring and nudged me. She had a smile that went from ear to ear. "That's my nephew", she calmly told me. I knew right then, and right there I would never have the nerve to date him. He was gorgeous!
No way, forget it! I told her! She laughed at me and told me,"See. I knew you'd like him. Come meet him". I really wanted nothing less than to meet him, but couldn't think of anyway to get out of it without being rude .She called to him and he came over. I couldn't believe my eyes. There in front of me was the new, improved version of that dorky ninth grader from my Math class……..that TAPPED danced way back when . This time I paid attention to his name when I was introduced to him .His name was Patrick Swazye. I never dated him and his aunt never gave up trying to get me to date him.
Long story getting shorter by the line , I was visiting my good friend Carole (who was a dancing fool whenever she had a chance ! ) one day in the mid 80's and she was raving away about this movie she had seen with this new actor . He could dance. He danced all through the movie, and HOW, she told me. The movie? Dirty Dancing. The actor? Patrick Swazye. She rented the movie, made me watch it with her, as she drooled through the whole thing
I couldn't understand how he could become handsomer than when he was younger. While I on the other hand was showing definite signs of, well, lets just say that I didn't look as good as he did. It was too terribly unfair. We were the same age even. We grew up on the same street. We went to the same school. We even went to the same church for heaven's sake.
This state of affairs continued well into the next decade with me saying every time I would see him in another movie , what was I thinking back then , not wanting to date him ? He just keep on looking better and better as the years went by. Of course publicly, I would stoutly proclaim my happiness for never having given into his aunt pushing me into dating him.
Then, just the other night I was flipping the TV remote trying to find a movie I hadn't seen five thousand times before. I stumbled across a new movie that as luck would have it, I hadn't seen. Well, who do you think was in it? My old friend Patrick. Oh, but he looked different this time. He was showing "those signs". The ones you don't want to see in the mirror. You know those little lines around the eyes that are nicely called smile lines? Some of those called laugh lines were visible too, bracketing his mouth. Cruelly, time had given him a very faint pouch in the tummy reign. I was all a gape! Patrick, looking "OUR AGE" at last? Not just me, but him as well? Hum, now we had balance between us at last.
Some how it wasn't the happy occasion that I had anticipated all these years. The thought, "Aging With Grace" came to mind when I looked back on this event. He had managed to do just that, with style and class. Come to think of it, he always was a classy guy, even when he was doing that "weird" dance way back when. Glade to know that he and his wife are happily growing older together. How lucky they are to have one another, in the best years yet to come.