Thursday, January 15, 2009


As the new year rolled around, I realized I'd slowly slipped into a rut; when I moved here I was trying all kinds of things, planning my experiences, and I really thrived. Sitting in my living room on New Year's Day with NOTHING TO DO, I decided it was time to take action. The economy, layoffs, moderate debt, many things had caused me to become gradually more cautious, and I thought, "Screw this. Screw winter, the cold, the short days. When I look back on my life I want to have as few regrets as I can."

So it was that last Saturday I walked through a snowfall to my first swing-dance class. Understand, I've partner-danced like, twice in my entire life, so I've never become comfortable with it. I thought it was time to learn a new social skill.

The class was excellent, with the instructors, a young married couple, giving excellent explanations and keeping it light and fun. I am not usually good at dancing that has rules (as an example: we started by walking 4 steps forward and 4 back, and I had to try it a couple of times to get it right). When we were ready to try our new step with a partner, the leaders (all but one a man) stood in a circle on the outside facing in, and the followers (all women) faced them. We'd dance for a short while, then we'd move to the next guy. It was very Sweet Charity.

Among the leaders was Justin (I'm changing all the names), a young boy who stared into my eyes like he was trying to hypnotize me; Isaac, who thought we were doing a Samba; and of course the obligatory older East Indian man in the zip-up Argyle sweater whose sister had probably forced him to go so that he could find a wife. He was adorable.

Then there was the guy who was here with his girlfriend and her friend. When I'd first seen the girls, my Inner High School Latin Club Member feared a beating: their hair was dyed jet-black, their eyebrows penciled razor-thin, their mouths bright red. They were the kind of girls you see at Rockabilly events. They wore skin-tight jeans and had flaming skulls on their loafers.

When it was time for me to dance with the bf, I took in his Johny Cash hair, not a strand out of place; his impeccably clean black jeans; spotless motorcycle boots. He wore a black short-sleeved button-down shirt with white pinstripes, and a crisp white T-shirt underneath. His left forearm was covered in ink; another sleeve had been started on his right. Although freshly shaved, he still had the shadow of a beard.

He smelled faintly of beer and danger.

I introduced myself, and in a very quiet voice, looking away, he told me his name was Eduardo.

He was a very good leader, and I told him so, hoping his girlfriend wasn't watching and noticing my face turn red. Eduardo was seriously carbonating my hormones. I think Eduardo barely noticed I was there.

After the class, I went to get my jacket. Hung beside it was a black motorcycle jacket with a flaming skull painted on the back, and underneath it the words, "L.A. Eddie."

Swing me, Bad Boy.

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