(Disclaimer: this is the original tap dance story. It got (surprise!) lost in my files. Everything that happened here is true. It just happened some time ago.)
Talk about the power of persistence. After waiting thirty-eight years, the house I wanted went on the market. Well, it almost went on the market. I knew the seller and he called me to say the house was going to go on the market in three hours and I said “Sold!” It’s a great house. It came with a roof, and a floor, and a bedroom and everything. Oh, and it also came with neighbors. I lucked out in the neighbor department. They are all really nice people and their idea of social distancing is to drink beer while driving past in a golf cart. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I have not had neighbors before, having been reared by wolves out in the wilderness so all this proximity is taking some getting used to. When I do laundry, I do ALL the laundry. This means I am accustomed to hanging clothes out on the line wearing the following all-my-clothes-are-wet ensemble: a towel. No matter how many beers the neighbors have had on their Tour de Backyard, they cannot be expected to endure this so I have altered my laundry habits somewhat.
One neighbor I have known for forty years. She loves to tell the story of my dancing career. Recently the neighborhood indulged in an especially festive Tour. Having moved on to that well-known memory-enhancing tool, tequila, she told how, at the ripe old age of 39 I decided to take tap dancing lessons. She remembers my hauling out my shoes and putting on a little demonstration on our deck. I have no recall of this part of the story so obviously the memory-enhancing tool failed one of us. I am not what you would call a natural. I am what you would, if you were in a generous mood, call a klutz. When Maureen told the story, she reenacted this part complete with flailing arms and legs. She was so overcome with the combination of story-telling happiness and a couple of stiff belts of memory boosters that she nearly fell down which is something I have actually done while tap dancing. In any case, at the dance school, the issue of a recital came up. The late, great Steve Boone envisioned this far more thoroughly than I had. He could see himself in the audience, surrounded by proud parents armed with video cameras. And when asked which one was his, he was prepared to reply, “The tall one.” It’s a perfect response, blending full deniability with, technically, the truth. One of the other neighbors, whom I have also known for almost forty years, says that every time he thinks of me tap dancing he is reminded of the Dance of the Hippos in the movie “Fantasia.” This can’t be an accurate opinion because I don’t even own a tutu but I am sure there is a compliment in there somewhere.
Given this sort of history in the arts you can well imagine my joy when the newest neighbor volunteered that she had been taking dance lessons since her childhood. She was the real deal … tap, ballet, hip-hop, and other coordinated moves to music. Immediately I was filled with really excellent ideas. As well as being a memory aid, tequila is also an outstanding adjunct to coming up with really excellent ideas. The first idea was that she and I Shuffle Off to Buffalo right there, right now. I could run home and get my shoes! When this suggestion was met with, shall we say, a notable lack of enthusiasm, I came up with another doozy. I told her I thought we should take tap lessons together.
You could just tell the thought of re-living her youth in dance and being able to share it with her new neighbor affected her very strongly. She was struck absolutely speechless. For a very long time. She began to speak several times but was simply too overcome with emotion to complete a whole sentence. There was a great deal of stuttering. She mentioned taking care of her family and beginning her new job and just moving in and not being exactly sure where her tap shoes were.
It’s not a problem for me. An idea this wonderful is too good to let go of. I can wait. I’m very persistent.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.