I went dancing last Friday, after a particularly difficult week. It was glorious. My usual partner was there, as well as several other partners who are just a joy to dance with. My coach Todd, of Todd Munson Studios, is like a little yapping terrier. Annoying, until you realize what treasure he is, and how much you’d miss him if he weren’t there. Todd has group lessons twice a week, and then a social event afterwords, mainly to practice new skills.
As a group, we continued to refine our tango skills. Todd flitted around from couple to couple, nitpicking posture here, lead there, and rhythm all around. During the hour, we rotate partners, and stay out of the way of the beginners, who are learning basic patterns behind us.
I noticed an attractive woman in the beginning class. She was tall, blonde and slender, but her shoulders were hunched, and her steps were tentative. Something about her body language pinged my memory.
Not for long, though, because tango is hard. Concentrate! I also had Rick whispering funny comments in my ear, so it was hard to dance the patterns without cracking up. After the lesson was over, I went to the table to get a drink.
“Hi! I’m Victoria. Are you new here?” The music started to play.
“Yes, my name is Maria. You look like you’ve been dancing a while.”
“Oh, it’s a long story. How about you? Have you been dancing long?” I sat beside her.
“Actually, I’m just trying to be less of a hermit. A year ago last July I lost my husband, so I’m trying to get out more.” Chills ran down my arms.
“Really? You lost your husband? I’m so sorry.”
“Yes, me too. He had colon cancer, so young for something so tragic. He died on July 17, 2010. ” I could feel my face start to go numb.
“Maria. That can be Hebrew for ‘bitter’. Do you ever feel bitter?” She looked at me, startled. “Well, sometimes. But I’m really very lucky, I have three children and great friends. Dance is something to help me feel normal again.” Tears started to gather in my eyes.
“Samba, Victoria?” Rick stuck out his hand.
“Of course! See you in a few, Maria!” Rick and I danced across the floor. Rick is perhaps 5 foot 9 and 150 pounds, all muscle and piano wire. He’s also very fluid, and a blast to dance with. He’s very funny, a great dancer, and a very kind man.
He led me back to Maria after the song concluded. I sat back down.
“Maria, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I lost my husband the day after you lost yours, also to colon cancer.” Her mouth dropped open, her eyes were shiny with tears. I took her hand.
“You’re going to like it here. The people are friendly, and it’s a lot of fun.”
“Tango, Victoria? More practice?” Rick appeared again, big grin on his wiry face. Rick led me onto the dance floor, and I whispered into his ear. He looked at me and nodded, a sympathetic smile on his face. My three hours were almost up, and my chariot was about to turn into a pumpkin, if I didn’t get back home.
Rick led me off the dance floor, and winked at me. I changed my shoes and put on my coat, just into time to hear Rick say:
“Tango, Maria? It’s ok, we can just practice the basic steps. Everyone always needs work on the basics.” I smiled goodbye to Rick, got into the car, and drove home.