Road Dancers

I'm driving at night, alone. I'm tired and on autopilot. It's raining and I am mezmorized by the rhythmic beat of the wipers. I've found a great oldies radio station that is playing timeless favorites. The DJ selects a tune from the fifties that instantly propels me back to a night sometime in 1955, my fifteenth year. I am at a teenage dance, one of many on my social calendar, this one a Friday night at the YMCA youth center.

I am dressed in my "Bandstand" best, salmon pink shirt, button down collar, charcoal gray pants, pegged to six inches at the cuff, pink stitching down the seam, and white bucks freshly chalked and looking just fine.

I spot a girl across the crowded dancefloor, long dark hair, pouting lips, sitting by herself looking wistfully at the dancers, only a spectator on the evening she came here to live. I quickly thread my way across the dancefloor to where she is sitting. Our eyes meet, but she doesn't perceive that I am intent on her until I hold out my hand and say "you are far too pretty to sit here by yourself. Come and dance with me." She looks up at me and smiles and rises to my urging. She follows me to the dance floor and folds into my arms as naturally as if it were meant to be. We dance closely, especially for new acquaintances, and I am intoxicated by the smell of her hair. Her name is Julie, I would learn later, and she said I was the first boy to ever tell her that she was pretty. And that was a very important moment in her young life. I'm certain I was not the last, because she was very pretty.

We dance our romantic slow dance in the overheated dance hall, sweated cheek to sweated cheek, a three minute ballad that lasted a teenage lifetime, or at least a teenage lovetime. We pushed apart to take a moments respite from the heat, to look at each other to see if this was real, and suddenly Julie was gone and the girl in my arms was you. And the smell was your smell and room was a larger more elegant dance hall, only a few other couples on the dancefloor, we were nearly alone. My heart swells with anticipation, and memory of other moments like this.

I look into your eyes as we spin, and I am lost in the depths. I see love and hope and fear and uncertainty all swirling in confusion. I want to comfort you and hold you close to me, and tell you that everything will be all right. But the record ends and with it the dream and I am alone again with intruding lights of oncoming cars and the clickity-clack of the highway beneath my wheels, speeding into the night.

Gene Ziegler