Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine

"Are you the young man who is going to help me to my car?" She asked brightly.

"Yes Ma'am, are you all set?" I replied. The store was empty, and quiet. My coworkers were frantically trying to finish their duties so they could salvage what remained of their Valentines evening.

It was hard not to stare. She was better than any character I had ever read in a book, standing there in the flesh. Her neck brace held her head rigid, so she turned her whole body to take my arm as we stepped outside the store. February was still chilly that year, and a slight breeze tugged at her ancient wool, long-coat and her hair. It was her hair that captivated me. Perhaps being somewhere in her eighties, she had no idea it was actually a fiery magenta that radiated in tight curls from the sides of her head.  Or perhaps she enjoyed it. Either way, she had been wearing it for some time as the iron grey roots underneath were clearly showing.

"You are a nice man, to help me to my car. I don't get out much anymore. HE doesn't like to. Oh but we used to go out. We went out all the time! We used to go bowling. HE doesn't like it anymore. HE just wants to sit in his big chair and mope. Well, I ain't dead yet! I want to go out. I miss dancing. I bet you think I can't dance don't ya? Do you like The Weeber?" She suddenly stopped walking and turned squarely to me.

"The Weeber? Is it a dance?" I frantically began trying to think of old dances I had seen from the Golden Age of Hollywood. My grandmother had loved them. Let's see—there was the Charleston, the Big Apple, The Jive, The Jitterbug...what was the Weeber?

"No. You should know Weeber! EVERYBODY knows The Weeber. Justin Weeber?" That's when she began to screech out "Baby Baby Baby OOOOooh!" Like a robot trying to maintain its balance due to misfiring circuitry, she jolted and jerked to her song. She was going to throw a hip out. There we were, just the two of us in an empty parking lot. A woman older than my grandmother was caterwauling a pop tune and dancing all up in my business under the glowing lights above us. I suddenly realized that when I had wished for a Valentine that year—I should have been a bit more specific.


Note: Sometime has passed since that Valentines Day, and I have to admit one thing: When she danced I simply stood there. Granted, I was a bit dumbstruck, and slightly afraid she was going to hurt herself, but I actually opened her car door and stood there as she danced her way into her car—like an idiot.   I never saw that woman again, and I have often wondered what happened to her. Word of advice? If an ancient person suddenly breaks out in a dance, drop your absurd notion of protocol and join in. It doesn't matter if they are swinging old school, or twerking in the new, it will be an adventure. As she put it, "You ain't dead yet!"

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