My latest book, HALLEY, awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction, awarded the Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction, and awarded the 2016 Frank Yerby Award for Fiction. Available at: NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley and Amazon.
I didn’t fall in love with my husband-to-be at first sight. My brother John introduced me to his Auburn roommate and fellow co-op student. He was just another college kid in Coke bottle glasses and floppy, out-of-style clothes (This was when tapered, James Bond clothes were cool). It was the second sight that caught my attention—at an impromptu party my brother threw the following evening.
This was when “the Twist” was in—the one dance that anybody—including uncoordinated people like me—could do because all it required was standing in one spot and swiveling side to side. So while Chubby Checker bellowed, “Let’s Twist again like we did last summer,” everyone in the entire room was swiveling seductively. Everyone except me and a few other wallflowers. And there, in the middle of the room, was What’s-His-Name in his floppy clothes and Coke bottle glasses, having more fun than anyone else. Not just with one partner, either. Every girl there seemed to love dancing with him. And he wasn’t a great dancer, but he was having so much fun that it didn’t matter.
It was as if he didn’t remember who I was. I kept trying to catch his eye, but totally failed. Later I learned that he and John didn’t particularly like each other and Benjamin had made up his mind before meeting me that he wasn’t going to pay me any attention, So the night wore on and I became more and more bored. Finally, I thought, I could go out there, tap his date on the shoulder and say, “May I cut in?” What if he said, “No,” What if they ignored me? I would be humiliated in public. More time passed and I had a chance to think out my plans again. So who would know back home in Georgia that I had behaved in this unladylike manner? Nobody. And heck, it wasn’t as if I’d ever see this little college boy again.
So I acted on my impulse and headed out on the dance floor. The young lady surrendered the boy in the thick glasses and suddenly there were two bad dancers on the floor, having more fun than anyone. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard, “May I cut in?” The girl had come back to claim her partner.
I waited a few minutes and then tapped her on the shoulder. Then one of the male wallflowers cut in and danced me to another part of the room. When I finally got back to Benjamin, I threw caution to the winds. Leaning close to his ear, I whispered, “Next time someone tries to cut in, we don’t hear them–right?“
“RIGHT!” Benjamin exclaimed and danced me back to the kitchen and gave me the best kiss I’d ever had. It scared me half to death. I’d just been having fun, and this had suddenly taken on a life of its own. I think Benjamin had the same reaction.
Flash forward 56 years. On Valentine’s Day, 2020, our church had a Sweetheart Dance with a real band (This was shortly before Covid ended all such fun). Benjamin was, once again having more fun than anyone else. I danced maybe five dances with him before my knees gave out —see the attached video—and then I had to tell him I was finished for the night. “Would you mind if I danced with some other people?” he asked. There were a number of women there whose husbands had some kind of disability. There were also several widows. Benjamin danced with all of them. And folks, I have to tell you that even though he’s mine completely and faithfully, I felt a little pang as I watched.
To view the video you must click on http://blog.fayegibbons.com/?=711 located at the bottom of the page.