Would You Like to Dance?

By Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

Would You Like to Dance?

I am waiting for the boy to ask me to dance. My feelings are controlled and determined by junior high school-aged boys. The best jitterbugger never asks me. My high school years will bring me popularity in dating older boys. But this is middle school years in the fifties, and my pride is in the hands of boys who do the asking.

The most popular boy in school lives across the street. He is a basketball star, although he has not yet grown into a man’s height. He is the best dancer in my neighborhood group of friends. He always dances with the girls who will also kiss him. He knows how good-looking he is even at twelve. There is a line of females competing to dance with him, to be his girlfriend for a night, a week, a month. He is a sassy charmer. He knows he is number one.

I am not one of the girls who wants him but I like to watch the revolving door of his momentary picks. And what I really love is to watch him dance. He is a great dancer who has impeccable rhythm and knows all the latest steps. He is dazzling on the dance floor even in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

One day I am twelve and the next I am sixty-three. The decades have brought me the marriage of my dreams, three incredible careers and a life in which I have been me. One of my greatest passions is dancing.

My childhood girlfriend is coming into town to attend the 50th anniversary of our high school. She talks me into going. I am not sure why she has to talk me into attending because I loved high school. I was president of my junior class and spent four years being part of many activities. Although my junior high school classmates were there with me, interacting with new people was what I loved about high school.

I am not sure that this type of party, which is open to graduating classes spanning fifty years, will offer quality time to reminisce and visit. I receive some phone calls from old friends who have come to town. I decide to go.

It is a small group of my classmates who attend, maybe fifteen or so. Most of these classmates were with me in junior high as well as high school. I am thrilled to see them. One man walks up to me and says my name. I struggle to recognize his face. He then says his name and smiles. It is the star dancer of my adolescence, my former neighbor, the jock my pre-teen girlfriends lusted after.

We catch up on the moments that have brought us through six decades. As others arrive, I greet them and am greeted warmly. Everyone looks well. Sixty-three never looked better. These are the people of my youth. Their place in my life is a special one. The memories we share together are our beginning years.

The band is getting ready to play the oldies of the 50s and 60s. As the music begins, I walk toward the dance floor and turn. He catches my eye as I extend my hand toward him motioning for him to join me on the dance floor. The best jitterbugger in sixth grade takes my hand, and we engage together in a graceful and wild ride, singing the words to every song to which we are dancing. He is still a great dancer.

When our dance ends, I motion to another childhood male friend and then another. Each man joins me on the dance floor, one at a time. As boys, I had never danced with any of them. Now I am enjoying their individual style and movements. On that dance floor they are meeting me for the first time. And it is I who has asked them. I chose and picked the males with whom I wanted to dance that night.

One of my sisters is also there. When I talk to her at the end of the night, she tells me how wonderful I danced, and how exciting it was that all the boys/men wanted to dance with me.

I smile to myself. I will always love the girl who was twelve and watched the dancers but a woman of sixty-three never felt better on the dance floor.

About this writer

  • Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago. Her non-fiction stories and essays are published in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her husband is her muse. Visit Elynne at http://LookAroundMe.blogspot.com.

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2 Responses to “Would You Like to Dance?”

  1. Yvette (Morris) Kanter says:

    Dear Elynne: My maiden name is Morris and we went to grammar school and high school together. I was sent this by Ellen Saken Steinberg who was my friend at Lincoln Hall and later became my friend as an adult when we found our oldest sons going to kindergarten together in Highland Park. We have now been close friends again for over 30 years…
    ….so I know you are writing about Mike Saken…who didn’t think he was so cool? But this is not about him. It is about how beautifully you have echoed many “63” year old women’s memories and re-told the story of many of our junior high experiences! Thank you…not only did you touch my heart but you brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face!
    I have followed your career over the years and am impressed aand a bit envious of all you have done and done so well. My path has gone a bit differently…I, too, have a wonderful husband, 3 great children who have brought me their own spouses and 6 grandchildren…so life is good.
    But I often think of those junior high dances and the boys that I waited to ask me dance! Thanks for making me understand the memories a bit better. Fondly, Yvette Morris Kanter

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