Mid-August in Kentucky is often hot and usually humid. But when we arrived in Kentucky it was as fresh as autumn in Michigan, especially at night. It was delightful for porch-sitting and neighboring. It was perfect for hiking in the mountains. It was just right for a slow, winding drive through the Red River Gorge. It was great sleeping weather, especially for the night we slept out in the Natural Bridge Park. The hot tub and the starlight were wonderful when the temperature is a little cool. It was ideal for the Pizza Picnic we enjoyed with all the Dunbar clan outside Little Caesars, after church on Sunday in Stanton and it was the most beautiful Hoedown Island weather I ever remember.
Hoedown Island might be the main attraction for a Pierpont vacation in Eastern Kentucky.
Friday and Saturday nights the whole bunch went to Hoedown Island for a bit of folk-dancing, square dancing, line-dancing, clogging and other body moments I’m not even going to attempt to describe. Hoedown is a little noisy and frenetic, but late in the evening towards closing time they play a quiet song with a three-beat and lovers waltz.
What happened next has never happened before in my lifetime. In thirty-three years of marriage Lois has never once asked me to dance with her. She has never even hinted at an interest in dancing. Not once. But when the music began she walked out and turned to be with her shining brown eyes and smiled and said; “Dance with me, Ken.”
I wanted to dance with her, but my feet wouldn’t move. They couldn’t.
“O, Honey. I can’t.”
“Come on, Ken. Dance with me.”
“I’m sorry. I just can’t.”
Chuk and Wes said, “Go Dad. Dance with her. She’s out there alone. Go.”
I tried but I couldn’t move. Not a step.
When I was a boy. My parents would write me a note so I could be excused from square-dancing in school. We just plain didn’t dance. It was taboo. It was forbidden. I had no experience dancing and until about five years ago I had no desire.
Then one summer afternoon the girls were getting ready for Hoedown and they were learning the Texas Ten-Step. It looked fun. It was wholesome and it was happy and everything inside me wanted to learn. They started to teach me, but I got distracted and never got back around to it. I never mastered the Texas Ten-Step and I had not ever tried to Waltz.
“Ken. Dance with me. Please.”
Chuk said; “Dad. Get out there. She’s alone.”
And then seeing I couldn’t move he ran out to dance with his mother. He was only a little better than I and the dance instructor took him away from Lois for a private lesson. Lois was alone again.
She looked at me and pleaded, “Ken. Come out here. Dance with me.”
Wes said, “Dad. She’s alone. Go out there.”
I froze. He went out to dance with his mother. The song faded and the couples walked off and my moment of opportunity slipped away.
I have regrets in life. Most of them you will never know. This is one painful mistake I intend to correct. The next time my beautiful, happy, fun-loving wife needs someone to dance with her I am going to be ready. I’m going to be all practiced up so that I won’t embarrass her or hurt her and I am going to be ready. You will see. I will not die with this dark regret on my heart. When the time comes I will dance.
There are times when it is wrong to dance and there are times it is wrong not to dance. I don’t want to be guilty of either.
September 7, 2012
P.S. Lois took some pictures that sweet summer night in Kentucky, gone now forever. In the pictures were her sister Linda and her husband Bobby Dunbar. A couple years after the picture was taken Bob died in one beautiful final act of serving his family. None of us knows how long we have and when the last dance will be, so while you still can–Dance.