C 2004 By Gracie Prior
CHAPTER VIII. THE WALTZ
It was an exciting time at Elsbeth Wilson Elementary School. The gym teacher was going to start dances at noon because there was nothing else to do with all the kids after their lunch, and it was too cold to go outside, winds and snow whipping around the corners of the school. Mary put on her black and white checked jumper, her white blouse with the ruffles, and her black patent leather shoes. Mom said she could wear them to school once in awhile. She also pulled her long hair into a ponytail. It was the style and she wanted to try it. She topped this all off with a scarlet bow around her hair.
In the morning class, Mary busied herself with her studies. Behind her was Butch with Jimmy to the back right. Terry was still behind Butch. They talked together whenever there was talking time. At lunchtime, the bell rang loudly and Mary went to the cloakroom and got her lunch money from her pocket. She went on ahead of the boys to the lunchroom. Wanting to get to the gym early, she quickly ate her sandwich and finished her graham crackers with leftover chocolate icing. Then she walked alone to the gym. She was eager to see what this dancing was all about.
When she got to the gym, there were already kids dancing. Mary sat on the bleachers and watched them. There were girls standing around on the floor, giggling and visiting, but Mary wasn't ready fort that yet. Roy, a boy in her class, came over to her.
"May I have this dance?" he asked. The sixth grade had been taught in gym class how to ask a lady for a dance, how to place your hands properly, and how to escort them back to where you found them when the dance was finished. Mary got up and smiled. She didn't like Roy very much. He made out-of-place remarks in class, but Mary was eager to dance. The record player was playing "Tennessee Waltz," her favorite, and she couldn't resist.
They started to dance and Mary realized that Roy was all feet. She tried to help him without actually taking the lead. It was useless. She concentrated on the lonely, beautiful words and melody of the song. Someone had tapped Roy on the shoulder while she was looking away and she saw with delight that Terry was now her partner.
"May I cut in?" he asked as he whirled her over the floor. The dance ended.
Mary realized that Terry didn't know where she was before the dance so she walked slowly back to the bleachers. Terry followed her. "This is where I was ...before," Mary said.
"See you later then ," he said.
A fast song came on and the kids who knew how to do the Jitterbug began holding hands, hopping around, twirling and moving in and out. There were girls with girls and girls with boys. Mary loved to dance fast, too. The music made her feet move. At home, she liked to practice her moves in front of the tall mirror on the door. She got up bravely and moved around the floor. She nearly bumped into Jimmy who would be game for anything. "Jimmy," she smiled, holding out her hands. Girls weren't supposed to ask boys to dance, but they could certainly look interested.
Jimmy turned and said. "Oh, Mary, isn't this fun?" He raised his eyebrow up and then down. He had that adorable smile. "I'd ask you to dance, but I don't know how."
Good enough, Mary thought. "I'll show you." They were playing "Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces." She took Jimmy's hand and stepped back away from him . "Like this," she said. She danced in to touch his other hand and then back out. Back and forth they went. Jimmy looked unsure, but he smiled. Mary wanted to go under his arm and twirl and do a few other moves, but Jimmy was obviously not ready. The song ended. Jimmy escorted Mary to where they started.
"You're a good dancer," Jimmy said. "Thank you for the dance, My Lady."
Mary giggled and nodded. She looked around to see what other fun was to be had when she saw two boys approaching her. Butch and Terry came over and looked like eager puppies. "We want you to choose. Which one of us would you like to dance with?"
Mary was surprised and delighted. Her heart right now went out to Terry but Butch was very cute, and she hadn't danced with him. "Butch," she said, smiling sweetly at Terry so as not to discourage him.
Butch gave Terry a superior victory smile. He took Mary's hand and started moving to another song that pulled at her heart. The voice on the record was so low and yearning. Butch was by far the best dancer of the day. He moved her around as if he knew what he was doing. He smiled at her. She just enjoyed the moment. Never before. Never once before had boys paid this much attention to her. Not like this. Was it the new school, her friendship with the Scribblers, the ponytail? What was different?
(Join me next Friday when the Scribblers get involved in a wonderful new project.)