Continued from last week's story
As I moved slowly across the dark parking lot, I was aware of a raging battle in my mind. I dearly wanted to turn around, get back in my pickup, and drive the forty miles back home. I had no doubt I was wasting my time being here. As the heavy wooden doors loomed before me, I raised my gaze to the neon sign above them. I'd not been inside this place in over seven years. I paused and wiped the palms of my hands on freshly starched Wranglers.
'Okay,' I thought to myself, 'this is just like the senior play. Everyone behind those doors is the audience and I'm just here to put on the show. An actor playing a part...remember, I am not me tonight, I am him. I am this character, this old Rusty Goat...I am the man I used to be.'
As loud country music deafened my thoughts, I meandered to a brightly lit bar at the far end of a dance floor. Ordering a Coors Light, my eyes darted around the dimly lit room. Same old barflies, I commented to myself. And the same old losers decked out in their wannabe Saturday night cowboy garb still making a play for them after all these years. I sighed as it dawned on me that I had now joined their ranks. Just a wannabe Saturday night cowboy loser. I shook my head. No, I could be better than that. I would be better than that. I'd prove it to them...I'd prove it to myself.
I settled in at a table in the furthest, darkest corner of the bar, sipping slowly on my beer and began surveying my possibilities. It was fairly early and the pickings were slim. I knew the place would liven up in an hour or so and I found myself content to partake in one of my most favorite pastimes...people watching. I'd make mental notes of where each single woman was sitting for reference once the urge finally hit me to make a move. As my eyes scanned the room, I became aware that there were others doing their own people watching. An older woman at a table to my left stared intently in my direction and there was a table crowded with several women who perhaps had escaped from a rest home just within my peripheral vision. The women shamelessly pointed in my direction as they downed voluminous amounts of alcohol. It had come to this. My heart sank as I realized I'd spend this night dancing with old ladies who reeked of baby powder! I should go home now, I thought. Then my eyes focused on a table across the room. No, I should...
"Dance with me?"
She obediently took my hand and followed me out to the dance floor.
Folks, I got that little girl out under the dance floor lights and realized I was living beyond my means. She was young, barely thirty, and beautiful. She had a sparkle in her eyes you don't see in the gals that have been down the road. Her skin was perfect, unblemished, and youthful. I took her tiny hand in mine and it made my stomach quiver. She was an angel. We danced three dances and, knowing I would be pushing my luck to ask for one more, walked her to her table. We got to her corner of the bar and saw that a group had taken the table. She just stood there with a puzzled look on her face. I knew there would be no more empty tables and offered to let her sit with me. Once we had worked our way through the crowd back to my corner table, we began chatting. She was, as I guessed, barely thirty...I was, as she guessed, about as old as her dad. We both laughed and agreed that we would just have to make the best of this night being stuck with each other.
It was perhaps an hour later, after non-stop conversation, that I realized this girl was the absolute perfect woman...except she was sooo young. We hit the dance floor and two stepped, then three stepped, she struggled momentarily with a waltz then picked it up like a pro. The rock music came on and she dragged me out to rock 'n roll. I line danced for the first time since 1980 something, with her behind me gently tugging my shirt to the left when I needed to move left, and right when I needed to move right. By midnight, she had taken twenty years off my age. I felt like a kid again, laughing and giggling.
Perspiration streamed down my face as the final chord of 'Boot Scooting Boogie' sounded.
"Let's step outside and cool off!" I suggested and my dancing partner placed her hand in mine and followed me out the door.
"I've had such a wonderful time tonight." she squealed as she scooted her tiny hiney onto the hood of a random car in the dimly lit parking lot, "You are such a great dancer!"
"Well, I'm actually pretty rusty. I've been dancing with a broom in the kitchen for months!"
She laughed and turned her head upward toward the night sky.
"It's such a beautiful night! A perfect night for a bottle of wine and a hot tub!"
Folks, it just slipped out without thinking...
"I have a hot tub and I'm pretty sure there's a bottle of Boones Farm still in the fridge."
Her eyes met mine and I saw a look that I'd not seen in many years.
"Cool! Okay...I'm in!"
And that's when it hit me... (This story continues next week!)