Monday, November 23, 2009

Pink Dress from New Orleans

Nala the Pomeranian has found herself a comfy perch beneath the pink dress from New Orleans that hangs in my closet, the one with the cabbage roses and slim fifties waistline.

I wore this dress last night to a Swing Dance party at the JCC in Manhattan, hoping that the charms of my outfit would compensate for my inability to do the fancy footwork I would surely see on the dance floor.

To complete the look, I added a silk flower to my hair. My dress-for-success strategy both worked and back-fired, prompting compliments, yet also making me highly conspicuous as the klutzy girl in the back of the room, turning the wrong way, knocking into people and generally dancing with two left feet. (Shout out to everyone who saw the ultra-hilarious film, Best in Show)

Thankfully, there were lessons given in this method of dance and as the evening wore on, it became immaterial whether I officially knew the moves or not. I danced happily if hazardously, found people I knew, made new friends and thrilled to the sight of the pros on the dance floor. Had I not been famished, I would have stayed even past midnight.

As HOBB is in Israel, I went stag, only slightly concerned about being taken for a single woman. From previous experience, I knew that the chances of my actually dancing with a man my age were slim; more typically, I have danced with 80-year-old men, women or boys the age of Big Babe at the JCC.

And that's basically what happened last night...with the exception of the boyfriend of a friend or the guy in his sixties who was insistent upon teaching me the moves and spun me perilously on the dance floor, then pulled me in so hard he almost cracked my ribs.

When I wasn't dancing or talking to people, I tried to focus on the feeling of being alone at a dance party, aspired to recollect the experience of singledom, of being unpaired, of waiting to be asked or chosen or courted.

It was odd for sure, standing on the periphery as a married woman without her mate, having to tell a few eager guys that I was indeed married -- just to put it out there – then finding myself in the middle of a rather hilarious conversation with a guy in his early 30's, the kind of funny, flowing conversation that's only possible once the boundaries have been established.

With HOBB out of town this time, I set up a whirlwind social schedule, to echo the rather frenetic extra-curricular life we've been pursuing over the past month, a kind of jumpstart empty-nest reaction, though we still do have one chick in residence -- 14-year-old Little Babe.

Not that he minds being left long as there is Gan Asia to deliver chicken lo mein or Cafe Viva to bring the pizza or Fine and Shapiro to send up the cold cuts. And friends for the weekend. And the ability to text or call me.

Still, total child-neglect is not a good thing and I found myself hanging around till mid-day today, taking care of work, finishing a press release I had started previously, walking Alfie and Nala, being on hand during his cello and Japanese lessons, making phone calls.

It was sweet to be able to get bagels for my young adolescent and his friends this morning, grab a hug or two from him after they left, hear him pick out the notes to a Coldplay song on the piano, listen together to Elton John's Pinball Wizard, live, from his Captain Fantastic tour, play my favorite George Harrison song for him, note his darkening moustache as I said Shma with him on the mattress that is yet on our dining room floor, a vestige from his frat-house weekend with his buddies.

"This would make a sick dorm," he said sleepily as I kissed him on the forehead.

I was reminded, in that moment, of the incredibly sweet times the two of us have shared when HOBB has taken to the road, our sleepover parties, Sunday adventures, film-going, shared meals – in and out – travels and museum-hopping. Over 25 years of being a mom, I especially treasure the times I have solo-parented my children because of the magic bond of intimacy, the little world of Mom 'n Me that we created, our little clubhouse, just the two -- or three or four -- of us, Bonnie and Clyde, co-conspirators in the pursuit of fun.

But now Little Babe is a teen. "Do you mind if I go out?" I asked on Friday night before heading over to the Shabbat prayer, potluck dinner and Open Mike Night hosted by Romemu at the church on 105th and Amsterdam.

The boys were in the middle of a poker game. There was a moment of silence and then they burst out laughing. What a lame question, I thought as Little Babe assured me in his deep baritone that the boys would be great and the house will not have burned down in my absence.

It is now Sunday night, technically Monday morning. The house did not burn down but it is a huge frat-house mess. Though I threw out all the empty cans of soda, bags of popcorn, pizza boxes, cups and random plastic bags that littered the living room, the place is still in shocking condition.

I sit on my bed in running shorts, writing on my laptop well past the hour of midnight. Inside my closet, Nala has vanished but my pink dress from New Orleans still hangs pretty, reminding me of my adventures last night, of the store on Decatur street where I bought it, of times yet to come when I shall wear it and it will make me conspicuous, a grown-up girl in a flowered dress with a slim fifties waistline and pleats so plentiful that when I twirl around, it blossoms around me like a ballerina's tutu.