Dream On, Dancing Queen by Chloe Laube


Dream On, Dancing Queen © 2016-2019 Chloe Laube. All rights reserved.

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The Dancing Queen Awakens

My shrink tells me to always make “I” statements. Well, here goes.

I despise you.

Let me tell you why. You lied, deceived, and betrayed me. I loved you, and you manipulated that love into a tortured emotional hell.

Anger stains the remembrance of every beautiful moment we shared. I was 65 years old when we met (well—maybe 68, but a mini-lift had worked wonders) and my heart had been deprived far too long.

My first marriage, which I foolishly thought would last forever, was dissolved 20 years before. My husband screwed every secretary on the corporate ladder to climb another rung.

I was too bedazzled with him to know anything was wrong until the laundry came out pink one day, and I found a lacey red thong stuffed in the pocket of his sweatshirt. He also stashed most of our assets, and the law was indifferent to his infidelities, so I ended up divorced, thirty-four years old, with $7,000 to my name.

Sure, a few flings followed, some fun, some hot, some not, but I wasn’t cut out for casual coupling. I needed one man to love. One worthy man.

The need for economic survival prevailed over the longings of my heart, so I slaved for 33 years at a social service agency more dysfunctional than the DMV. Josie Wong was my first supervisor, also a neophyte, and we endured the madhouse, clinging to one another like lost little children in mutual fear of a diabolical alcoholic manager.

We were an unlikely duo. Josie, first generation Chinese, was short and plump (she claimed to be five feet, but I seemed six inches taller at five-four). We both wore petite sizes, and she could never figure out why, at my immense height, I wore size six and she wore size twelve.

She was also fiercely defiant.

“In my next life, I will be rich, tall, and willowy, have the grace of a ballerina, and cut off the balls of that stupid ass we work for,” she snorted. His balls remained intact in this life but shriveled to dried prunes when he was demoted and Josie grabbed his job two years later.

I, on the other hand, was Caucasian, slender, blonde, and by nature a trusting conciliator, noted for my tact and quiet finesse. Josie referred to me as a greenhorn gringo and was always on the alert to protect me from my own gullibility.

Every few years we treated ourselves to a cruise to gather the energy to complete our civil service indenture. Knowing we would eventually smack into the glass ceiling, we carefully calculated pensions and savings. When our heads hit that barrier with a thud, we had ample resources to further explore the enticements of the world.

But then my mother fell ill. Josie stood watch while I, childless and an only child, tended to Mom as lung cancer crawled up into her brain and ate it cell by cell.

“The beasts are wild today. That tiger is under your chair right now, and it just bit off your bad foot,” Mom would say, trying to swat it and shoo the lions away.

She thought she was shackled in iron boots because she could no longer move her legs. “Take these things off me. They’re worse than the ones you had when you were paralyzed. Get me out of here.”

She screamed a lot. Hate poured from her once loving eyes, and I could only spend a few minutes at the nursing home before her rage would erupt.

My poor little mom died an awful death, and six months later, I was still stunned by the gruesome hallucinations and twisted perceptions she endured, all of which could have been ended with one merciful act, but Hospice doesn’t work that way.

Josie finally intervened with a proposal that overcame my lingering grief and depression. The two of us had taken dance lessons for years, she to overcome an innate clumsiness, and I to overcome the weakness in my right leg, the result of polio at age five.

My childhood had been a nightmare of partial paralysis, iron braces, frightening surgeries, and isolation—who knew where that evil virus came from or if it was still lurking inside me, ready to jump out on the next kid who came by?

I finally escaped the orthopedic terrorists and was fairly together by adulthood, hindered primarily by a fused right ankle that made it almost impossible to walk on uneven surfaces without tearing apart my knee.

When Josie invited me to a party at the dance studio where she had begun taking lessons, I was astounded that she could waltz around seemingly at ease. Not one yelp of pain was emitted by her instructor when she scrunched his instep.

“Try it,” she urged. “I think you can do it.”

“I can’t tell a rhumba from a cha-cha, and what if I fall?”

“Then you can sue—but not until I’ve used up all the lessons I’ve paid for.”

So I gave it a shot, and a hardwood floor became a safe and joyful haven.

Our current instructor, Alex, was perfect for me, because he had been a dancer in a theatrical group until a scaffolding on stage had collapsed with him on it. His right leg was fractured almost to dust, and it had been glued and pinioned back together. He learned to fake, adjust, and revise almost every move and taught me how to compensate for the lack of movement in my right ankle. With his encouragement, I fancied myself a dancing queen despite my limp.

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