"Smell this one!"
My daughter shoved the bottle of lotion beneath my nose.
"Um-hum." I responded in a noncommitting murmur. I was the only male in Bath and Body Works on this particular Sunday afternoon and admittedly found myself feeling out of place. Not as out of place as those rare occasions I had been forced into Victoria's Secrets.
"I like this one better. Don't you?"
My nose obediently inhaled the fragrance as my eye caught sight of her. It was her walk that caught my attention, not a walk really. She glided...floated by where we stood, dressed in a full-length blue dress that swayed ever so slightly as she elegantly moved through the store. I left my daughter holding yet another bottle, a bewildered look on her face. I knew this woman. I knew that walk.
I sat in the glow of neon lights with the only friend I had in the whole world...my black Resistol hat, perched perfectly on my head, casting shade across my nervous face in a darkened room. I felt so out of place in a bar but I had spent months of lonely Saturday nights feeling just as lost and lonely sitting at home. Finding myself suddenly single at a year or two past the age of forty had come unexpectedly and here I sat on a Saturday night, searching for a new life. I had decided on this particular night I'd venture to the city and watch the wanna-be
Saturday night cowboys and cowgirls scoot their boots in a hard wooden floor to the beat of country music blasting over speakers stacked at the far end of the dance floor.
She caught my eye as she glided onto the dance floor, a random wanna-be cowboy in tow. Mesmerized, I watched her gracefully float across the floor. Throughout the night, wanna-be cowboys lined up to request a dance or two with this shapely brunette and I sat watching as the hours evaporated like raindrops on a hot summer sidewalk. Later, driving back to my humble little country home in the darkness, I found my thoughts on this woman who had danced my night away. It wasn't her beauty that attracted me. No, I realized I wanted to dance with this elegant creature...and I couldn't dance. Not a lick.
She was back on the dance floor the next Saturday night and I was back at my same table, watching. And the next Saturday night as well. I had made up my mind. I wanted to dance and I wanted to dance with this woman.
She glanced up from her beer and our eyes met.
"I can't dance." I paused, searching for courage, "I'd like for you to teach me."
I read her eyes. She wasn't flattered. Her eyes dropped back to the beer on the table before her. The familiar sound of Brooks and Dunn's 'Neon Moon' wafted from the speakers and her eyes again met mine. She extended her hand and smiled. With her hand in mine, I ventured into unfamiliar territory, onto a dance floor with a woman I did not know.
I'd only bother her for one dance every Saturday night over the course of the next six months. We rarely spoke. I didn't even know her name. But she'd coach me as we made our way across the floor.
"You are bouncing! Gliiiide!"
"When you turn, spin...one motion. Hold your partner up close so she can anticipate your next move."
It was during that sixth month that my dancing teacher stopped coming every Saturday night. I heard she had found someone. Someone to dance with forever. I was happy for her...whatever her name was.
I stood patiently waiting for my daughter to pay for her six lotions. They were buy three, get three free, after all. As I peered at the floor, that blue dress caught my attention and I looked up. Our eyes met and I saw a hint of glimmer in her eye as she cocked her head as if her mind seemed to struggle to place me somewhere in her life. She smiled a polite smile and I grinned and involuntarily winked. I then turned...spun...one motion and followed my daughter out of the store.
As we made our way through the crowded mall, I realized it was that woman who started it all...the Rusty Goat thing. Had she never took that time to teach me to dance, I'd never danced. I'd never held hundreds of women close in my arms beneath the neon lights, gliding across a wooden floor, searching for someone to dance with forever. Had it not been for that woman...whatever her name is...I'd not had all those stories to tell. Had it not been for her...there'd been no Rusty Goat...
To Be Continued...