The Last Dance

disco ball

Dim all the lights.

I’ve spent too much of my life waiting. I’ve waited for something good to happen, for someone to come along and rescue me, for the phone to ring, for love, happiness, peace of mind, for transcendence. Tom Petty couldn’t have been more wrong – waiting is the easiest part.

Also the stupidest. I watched my mom wait until it was too late. I never understood why she didn’t leave my father. He went to prison when I was four and came home when I was twelve and for those eight years, she waited. We were one big happy family for about a week. He was always scamming and never held a steady job, and my mom worked like a dog to support us and believed my father would eventually hit it big with one of his wild schemes, so she waited some more.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer some years later, she told my father that he needed to find regular work and for more than a year after that she waited again. She finally kicked him out of the house, but they were back together after two months. She waited for my father to become the man she thought he was capable of becoming and she waited and waited and waited until she died at 51.

I was once my mother’s son, especially when it came to love. My first crack at the waiting game came when I was 12 years old (that was some fucking year for me). I was in sleepaway camp, and we had a social with the girls camp from down the road, and I know, this is right out of every cheesy teen movie, but I still wince recalling how I waited the whole night before I finally asked a pretty, little, blond girl if she would dance with me.

A bunch of the other guys went right at it as soon as we got there, but I stayed pretty much all by myself in a corner, trying desperately to look cool on the outside because I was terrified on the inside. It’s really all a blur except for the punch line: the DJ announced that it was time for the last dance of the night. I went into a complete panic and my heart was beating louder than the music as I feebly edged my way to the pretty, little girl and I don’t have a clue what I said except it ended with me retardedly blurting out, “Wanna dance?”

To which she emphatically said, “NO!”

Now forty or so years later, it’s time for the last dance again and I’ll be damned if I wait more than two seconds before asking the pretty, little girl to step out on the floor.

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