Friday, December 12, 2014

Epiphany #74: Dances With Strangers, Part 2

A continuation of the previous post, wherein shy, introverted Bob is subjected to a variety of very public situations.

The woman in front of me turned around.  She asked me if I wanted to go to the front and dance. She looked like Terry Gross from NPR; I said yes.  Actually, as the song began, and as it turned out, only three "couples" bought into the idea of turning the bar into a honky tonk.  And we were one of those.  And then one of the other couples, maybe both, it gets hazy, left the dance floor, leaving the two of us dancing badly.  It was unclear which one of us was the worse dancer.  The simple instruction of "two steps up, one step back" proved too much for us during many of our trips around the dance floor.

There was little to say as we walked back to our respective stools, except to say that we had done it. Neither of us could have been very excited about the dance, and Nora Jane didn't say anything from her microphone after it was over.  It was like going up to the board in a math class to work a problem, and getting it wrong and having to take that long walk back to your seat.  Only with a partner.  I told her that I clearly needed some practice before my daughter's weddings.  She asked me how old they were, and that was it.

Nora Jane did do one other thing.  By the time the night was nearly over, she basically acknowledged that the crowd was spares, that no one else was coming, and that we all might as well make the best of it.  So she asked us to leave our perches and come down front (some 20 feet away) and "crowd" the area in front of the stage.  So we all did.  And so, once again, we all put ourselves on public display, because when there are only twelve of you, you can't go down front and just stand there; you have to get into it.  So I did.

But I also knew that by then, I'd had enough.  An individualized visit to a school.  The polar opposite of Dancing With The Stars.  And now pretending to be part of a "throng."  Enough.  As soon as the show ended, I was out the door.

The music club was far enough away from my hotel that I had to drive there.  And drive back.  It was late.  If you didn't want to valet park, and I didn't, you had to park in the garage across the street.  And because you weren't exactly a paying customer (I was paying the hotel), you weren't allowed to park anywhere on the first four floors.

And so I spiraled upwards in the garage, around and around, kind of speeding up because it was so late and there was no one else around, until I rounded one curve and there stood two black women in front of what I thought was their car.  They waved at me wildly, so I slowed and rolled down my window.

"We mean you no harm," they shouted.  "We mean you no harm."

Well, I had kind of gathered that, given that they were a couple of elderly women.

"We can't find our car.  Would you be kind enough to drive us to it?"

I said that I would, and I had to move some things around so thath they could get into the seat next to me and the seat behind it.

"We think it's up on Five," the woman next to me said, so we continued driving up.  They told me the make of the car.  They told me where they thought they had parked.  They told me that they had been to a Christmas concert nearby.  They told me that it was silver.

 It no silver car that I pointed out was theirs.  "I don't think we came up this high," the woman next to me said.

"Seems to me I saw a sign for the walkway to the hotel right near where we parked," the woman in the back seat said.

"The hotel is across the street," I said.

"Would you mind driving us back down?" The woman next to me asked.  "I'm sure we didn't come up this far.

And so we danced our dance.  We went down several floors; we came back up.  But we never saw the car. We tried a little higher.  We tried a little lower.

Finally, the woman behind me said, "I'm sure I saw the sign to the hotel when we were parking."

"The hotel is across the street," I said.  "I'm staying there.  This is where they have me park.  This garage wouldn't have that sign."

"Then this is not the right garage," said the woman next to me.  "Would you mind driving us down to the 'Exit' booth?  I'm sure they can tell us where the other garages are around here."

"Not at all."When I dropped them down by the entrance, they thanked me and I told them to be safe.  And we parted.  I parked very close to where I had first encountered them, walked to the elevator, descended and crossed the street to my hotel.

I did not speak to anyone in the lobbying, hurrying to the safety of my room, where the hours left to use the solitude to prepare myself for the first day of a conference where i would know no one were rapidly diminishing.  Plus,  I was hungry, and I had a Jimmy John's sub in the mini-fridge that I had purchased for supper, so i wouldn't have to go into a restaurant alone.

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