I remember the moment — or phone call to be precise — that I ceased to be a bachelor. Not in any real way of course, the woman on the phone was old enough to be my grandmother. But in a sort of symbolic way. From that point forward I ceased to be a bachelor in the way I dressed, the way I cooked, the way I thought about myself.
“Hello,” I answered, speaking into the new touchscreen phone I’d purchased upon my return to the States.
“Hello, this is Eve Finkton,” the pregnant pause that followed her introduction lasted a moment longer than was comfortable, “from the dance last night,” she continued.
I wracked my brain, trying to match the thin, trembling voice to one of the dozens of women I had danced with the night before.
They were filed under a dozen different things, a weird quirk of my professional life that had drifted into my personal one. Or maybe it was the other way around.
The filing cabinet had a series of seemingly random files, all named after various dance attributes. Swivels. Footwork. Movement. Cute. Ok, cute isn’t a dance file, but I needed somewhere to file the girls that were cute and couldn’t dance even a little.
Or so I imagine the files in my head.
In a little bit of a panic I was skimming through “swivels” and desperately hoping to see a post-it that indicated I’d given out my (new) cell phone number.
“I know this is a little unusual, but…”
It was the word unusual, combined with the discard of the swivels file and picking up of a new file that helped me piece it all together.
Elderly women. A file that was important for a number of reasons. The first is that they are less intimidating to dance with, and are often quite good dancers. The second? That girls my age love it when someone is dancing with someone their grandmother’s age.
The tinny, even elderly voice suddenly clicked. A woman flashed before my eyes — with lightly dyed orange hair. She had clearly been enjoying her dancing. She was an excellent follow, despite having slowed a step or two from her dancing prime.
“Oh, Miss Finkton — So sorry, it took me a minute to place you.”
“Don’t worry. Don’t worry one bit. I didn’t expect you to remember me at all.”
“Take the A-train,” I reassured, “it was a lovely dance.”
“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
My brow crinkled reflexively as she continued, “I really enjoyed dancing with you last night, and you seem like a wonderful young man.”
For one exceedingly strange moment I considered the possibility that this 77 year-old woman was about to ask me on a date. And in a way, she was.
“This may seem like a strange proposal…”
‘Proposal’ rang out a little odd.
“…but I’d like you to consider coming out and dancing with me this Saturday.”
The offer hang in the air for a record before she continued.
“It would be a business proposition. I would pay you for your time of course. Ever since my husband died I’ve had to go to these dances alone. It’s quite stressful, and I never get in quite as many dances as I’d like.”
“So,” I responded, “I’d be…an escort.”
That certainly didn’t come out right.
“And a dance partner,” she continued with a chuckle, “I’d want you to dress up – bow-ties, suspenders, wing tips. I’d pay for all the clothing, and generously for your time…”
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