You don’t have to think when you two-step with Grandad
If you are a Person of A Certain Age, then you know what you are seeing in this photo.
My co-worker, who is Not Yet of A Certain Age, did not know anything about this.
Me: I just saw the agenda for the sales meeting! They’re taking us to Gilley’s! I didn’t even know there was a Gilley’s in Dallas. I thought it was just Houston.
Co-worker: What’s “Gilley’s?”
Me: Ummmm. What were you doing in 1980?
Co-worker: Being born?
Me: Oh. So. OK. Well.
She did not share my joy.
Initially, my joy was snobbery. The snobbery of Well I Went To This Place In The Beginning When There Was Only One. The snobbery of I Knew It When It Hadn’t Been Corrupted By Expansion.
That’s how I feel about Chili’s, which used to be nothing more than a cheap hamburger place for college students in Houston to eat. That’s how I feel about Whole Foods, which just used to be the local organic and bulk food grocery store in Austin. It wasn’t cheap like Chili’s, but it was not crazy expensive like it is now. It used to be the hippie store. Hippie stores are not expensive.
(Whole Foods was an account of ours when I worked in Austin. When my friend and co-worker Terri would call on them, front line workers would yell, “SUITS!!!!!” to the office people in the back.)
(It was not a compliment.)
(Yes, that was back when people wore suits to work.)
(I don’t miss that part of those days.)
And yes, I went to the original Gilley’s, too. I went there on a date with a guy I had met only once – it was raining and we were walking after class and I offered to share my umbrella BECAUSE OF COURSE I HAD AN UMBRELLA AS A 17 YEAR OLD COLLEGE STUDENT.
He asked if I wanted to go to Gilley’s which OF COURSE I DID I HAD SEEN THE MOVIE.
And I love to two step and polka.
He didn’t know how to dance.
I didn’t know how to dance well enough to teach a non-dancer how to dance.
We left – and his car died in the middle of nowhere – somewhere in the dark between Pasadena and Houston and we couldn’t find a pay phone and when we finally did and found the number for a taxi, we couldn’t tell the taxi where we were because it was in the middle of the dark nowhere. His roommate finally retrieved us.
He called me several times after that but I wouldn’t call back.
I felt awful about how I treated him for decades. I finally wrote him a letter about 15 years after the event, but I don’t know if he ever got it.
Then, at a reunion a few years ago, I saw him. He came up to me! I blurted out, “I was so unkind to you! I am sorry!”
And – he let me apologize. And we chatted. And it was lovely!
I became a much better dancer later. It was one of the main things my friends and I did for fun in college – we went country western dancing. I had a fake ID not to drink but to get into the Winchester Club in Houston. In San Antonio, it was the Bluebonnet Palace. In Austin, it was the SPJST Hall and the Broken Spoke.
In New Braunfels, it was Wurstfest, where they had this dance where every 45 seconds or so, they would blow a whistle and you had to switch partners with whoever was next to you.
I saw all these Old Men dancing and I thought Oh no I don’t want to dance with an old man!
And then – well, reader.
And then I danced with an old man.
And that’s when I discovered that old men who have been dancing since they were kids know what they are doing.
I didn’t have to think. I didn’t have to plan. I didn’t have to make any dance decisions.
They just guided me to where I needed to be and it was fabulous.
Where was I?
Oh. So I have been to Gilley’s and I am a snob, but now I am a snob who never gets to go dancing because
- I would rather sleep than do just about anything else.
- My husband cannot dance.
- I have tried to teach him to dance but he wants a process chart and a diagram showing exactly where he is supposed to put his feet EVERY SINGLE SECOND and that’s – not how dancing works.
- My husband cannot dance.
- (But he can sing)
But now, I can be a snob who has a chance to dance.
I will even dance with co-workers. I have already identified a co-worker who told me last year that he and his wife had taken ballroom dance lessons. If he can ballroom dance, he can sure two step and polka.
And if I can’t find a co-worker who can dance, I will roam around and look for the old men.
(If you don’t believe me, watch this video about the dance halls in Texas.)