Tango at the abyss

by Rheasq

I love the saying that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did except backwards and in high heels. She also did it in some pretty wicked, trip inducing formal wear and made it look easy and graceful. Yikes.

My husband did not dance. All the complex, beautiful rhythmic ability that drove his fingers over the saxophone keys with wild abandon stopped at his armpits, much to my consternation. So for many, many years I did not dance.  I might trip the light fantastic while cooking dinner or running the vacuum but never went “out” to dance.

Then one evening, I ambushed him.  Very dear friends of ours who liked to dance wanted to go the local latin restaurant, where they held weekly latin dance classes.  I knew if I asked, he wouldn’t go.  And so he was ambushed.  I didn’t tell him until we were in the car on our way to meet our friends for “dinner”.   To say the least, he wasn’t pleased with the main course.

But he was a trooper.  He knew I wanted him to try and with sportsman-like attitude he honored my wish.  He danced for the entire hour.  And unlike some of us, gave it his all and improved. But he hated it.  He did it for love; he did it for me.  Like he did so many things.

This last year I realized I had not been correct — my husband danced.  It was just not to any tune or rhythm discerned by me.  He had my hands firmly in his grip as he led me backwards through his choreography.  Back and forth, side to side, spin, twirl, dip.  Cha, cha, cha.

Like a master, his inner eye kept us moving toward a horizon only he could see.  When he stepped aside to change partners, only then could I see we had danced to the edge of the abyss. As he stepped aside to hand me off, his new partner was there with open arms, waiting, expectant.  And he was gone, whirling through the mist.  And there I stood in my high heels and formal wear looking into oblivion. Wondering why I had not noticed the cold wind whipping by or the fog seeping out of the ground to envelop us.  My Scarlett O’Hara moment.

So I teeter; my strappy sandals not keeping my feet warm, the high heels keeping me off-balance.  Straining to hear the music, see signs of the dance master, a solo gig neither easy nor graceful.  Gown torn and snagged from the ragged edge against which I dance, backwards.