Still Dancing Contra

So Saturday Night there was another contra dance at the Black Diamond Hall. Once again, I found myself travelling up the dark, mountain road in the rain, but this time I was not nervous. By the time I got the only leftover parking and got out of the car, I could hear fiddle music weaving through the rain, beckoning me inside. Sure enough, after I walked in and paid my eight bucks, I saw Joanne had, indeed, talked Bob into coming and there they were, over on the other side, the sheep farmer and the workman, dancing away.

Immediately, a man came through the crowd and asked me to be his partner. We danced, he the far more experienced one. He seemed very nice, although as the next half hour progressed I noticed his eyes became a little too fixated on me, and I felt myself becoming more interesting than I thought I was, under the intensity of his gaze. We danced a couple dances and, breathless, I excused myself,  told him I would be back but that I needed a drink. Hey, this dancing is exhausting! I was sweating! But you know, I sensed he was immediately impatient with my need, because he followed me into the kitchen and grabbed the sleeve of my shirt and said “Come on, hurry! The music started.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have this personal space thing and he got into mine before I could say “pushy.” I said to him, “Not until I finish.” He pasted a smile on his face and pretended he enjoyed learning patience for the first time. It was a look I had seen before and did not like. It made me feel stressed, hurried, and believe it or not, rude. But I was not the rude one here, he was. When guilt issues forth from the unwarranted expectations of another, I want to pay attention to the source.

Finally quenched, I went back out to the dance floor with him. I do not know this guy for more than a half hour and he’s already revealing his pushiness?  I thought, then thought again, How considerate. In my book, Buttwheat, you get one free pass but you don’t get two.” So I mentally issued a free pass and we danced again and chatted about this and that until I asked him what line of work he was in. He said, “I was a potter for seventeen years.” Klunk. He plopped that one right out on the dance floor without flushing. I had questions I did not ask. Why did he stop pottering? How long ago did he stop? Was he not serious? Perhaps he dabbled more than worked, I could not know. So I said,”Oh, wow, that sounds interesting,” and tried to think what he might possibly do now for work. Where might a potter go from a position of pottering? “So, what do you do now?” I asked.

“Oh, for the past several years I have studied railroad law. Did you know Congress doesn’t know much about Railroad laws?” He asked, not knowing this was shaping up to be something about which to blog.

“You don’t say.” I said, trying to think on my feet how the heck I’d be able to come up with a  thoughtful question that would sound more intrigued than I actually was. I wanted to be polite after all. So I said, “I believe it’s true that Congress doesn’t know a lot about several things.” It was a joke. He looked at me blankly. I felt pressure to fill the newest lapse in the conversation with something both clever and kind. Hurry..hurry…dig deep now… OK, I had one! “Well, now, how railroad law intersects with Congress certainly is a niche occupation, isn’t it?” I asked and continued, “I imagine studying railroad law must take up so awfully much of your time. How very tiresome it must make you. Hmm, not doing so well in the kind thoughts segment for the evening…

He said, “You seem very interested in this topic. Most people are not, when I talk to them about railroad law. You are interested, right?” He asked.

“Actually no, I am not interested in it at all. It bores me to death, I am sorry to say,” I said and was glad when he laughed at my frankness. At least he was a good sport.

“Say, why don’t you come with me to the Valentine’s Day Dance down at the Sequim Prairie Grange this weekend?” There it was. The asking of the date I had known was coming. “Come be my date. It’ll be fun!” There it was again.

“I don’t know, but hey, will we get to talk about the cool and interesting railroad laws if I go with you?” I did not ask him. Instead I thought about how much I cherished my brother, David, and his excellent wife, Kathy in that very moment, in that very place, up on Black Diamond Road. “Oh, unfortunately, it will be impossible for me to go because my brother and his wife are coming over that weekend.” I put on my best frowny face in the hopes that he would be completely deterred. Instead, he said, “Your brother and wife can come too. Do you think they would want to dance with hillbillies?”

Wait. I’m a hillbilly now? Uh, OK, Fine with that. Don’t care. “The plans are not firmed up yet. All I know is that they are coming,” I said in a sure tone.

After that, we danced one more set. Then he said he was going to get himself another dance partner. I didn’t blame him. I don’t do pushy. Not anymore.


Learning to Dance

Things We Learn At Dance Lessons


The Tuesday evening West Coast Swing dance was over. We successfully completed number 4 out of 5 beginner classes. A new friend, Joanne, spoke as we put on hats and coats.”There is another Contra Dance this Saturday night up Black Diamond Road. You goin’? Asked Joanne.

“I am going. I had so much fun at the last one,” I replied. “You going?”

“Yes I am! Want to meet up at the old Fairview school house and we can carpool to black Diamond?” Asked Joanne, as we walked off the dance floor at the end of the lesson.

“Sure!” I said. “What about Bob?”

She answered as we both turned to look at him, standing a short distance away. “I’m trying to convince him but he’s not sure. There may be some others who want to go too.” She continued, “Contra is so much easier than Swing. I’ve been doing Contra for thirty years and I know both genders, so it’s easy to me. With Contra, it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake or not. It’s just a lot of fun.” I agreed with her, and took a mental note of her easy manner. I looked at Bob again. He seemed calm and shy and sweet and her relaxed vibe might just succeed convince him to go to Contra and live a little on the wild side, I thought.

She said, “I’ll work on Bob for Saturday’s Contra.” She gave me her card and I agreed to call her to confirm our plans. I glanced down and immediately liked the card. I knew Joanne owned a pet pig and that she ran a home-based business but I had no idea she was so diversified. The card read: Hole-in-the-Fence Farm. Grass Fed Lamb and Mutton, Pastured Chickens & Eggs, Icelandic & Wensleydale Fleece, Roving & Yarn. Antibiotic, Hormone & Drug Free.

Wait. I understood all of it except one thing. Roving? As in, “I’ll go a-roving no more”? As in the really old capstan sea chanty about the sailor and the Amsterdam maid whose eyes and perhaps other parts did plenty a-roving of her own? Or did it have something to do with a-roving migration patterns of Icelandic and Wensleydale sheep? Wait. Sheep don’t go a-migratin’. Right. Or, does yarn go a-roving? I was a-gettin’ close. Hmm, I resolved to look it up when I got home. When I drove out of the dark, misty parking lot, I turned on the windshield wipers so I could see better, and noticed Joanne and Bob, who stood, a-chatting in the fog. No doubt she was working on him to come to the Contra Dance Saturday night. I craned my neck and looked upward through the swipes on my windshield and saw a full moon, whose silver circle was frizzy with moisture as it began it’s roving from one blue edge of night to the other. I was at peace.

When I got home, I looked up “roving” in the dictionary. It is wool run through a carding machine, kind of like messy hair being brushed for the first time. After the carding process, the fibers mostly go the same direction, but a few go contrary to the general flow of the yarn, which produces a fuzzy and soft texture. I realized life is like that kind of yarn sometimes, and I hoped the end result would be something interesting, soft, and durable. Oh, the things I learn at dance lessons.