Friday, May 19, 2017

Intimations of mortality

Opened the paper recently and learned the woman who taught a belly dancing class in L'Anse back in the '70s is dead.

I had the usual mixed reaction that hits once you get to be a certain age (i.e., older than dirt). First there's the "holy wah, she wasn't that old" that hits when you realize someone who's more or less a contemporary just died. Then there's the vague sense of relief and rationalization: "but, hey, she was at least three years older than I am."(Translation: those aren't actually buzzards I see circling overhead.)

I hadn't thought about the woman in years. She taught a belly dancing class offered through the local Community Schools program. Forty-plus years ago the local school districts had actual money for community enrichment classes and offered a pretty wide variety: cooking, crafts, dance classes, photography, woodworking, you name the hobby and at some point there was probably a class. I took a few. There was a needle crafts sampler: we tried several different things like bargello (a type of needlepoint) and specialized quilting (yo-yos, cathedral window). My friend Cindy had enough ambition to complete several of the suggested projects. I think I did a bargello pillow and that was that. I tried a cooking class and acquired a few recipes I still use. I learned how to develop my own black and white photos, a hobby I enjoyed for a couple years but gave up when we moved out to the Seattle area in 1979.

And then there was the belly dancing class. One of the neighbors talked me into trying that. I was hesitant, but what the heck. It was an excuse to get out of the house one evening a week for a month or two. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, never have been able to dance at all (not even that most ubiquitous form on non-dancing for white people, line dancing and the Texas two-step), but I made the unexpected discovery that I liked the music. So I went to belly dancing. (Side note: belly dancing was a brief fad 40 years ago. I'm not sure why. It is not the route to thinness -- in order to be a successful belly dancer, you need to have a belly. It can, however, be really good for your back as it tones your core muscles.)

It was an interesting mix of students. Don't really remember much about any of them now other than the instructor and one or two others, like the wife of a local businessman who confessed to the group that the reason she was taking the class was to spice up her love life. Her husband couldn't get it up unless they did role playing. I guess she decided she'd rather be a harem girl with sequins than a French maid with a skimpy apron. I haven't seen the dude in question in probably 30 years, but you better believe I still start laughing when I hear his name. 

As for the instructor. . . that was the only class I ever took with her, and, despite the fact we were both living in what is a fairly small town off and on for several decades, I don't think our paths ever crossed again. And now they never will. Vita brevis.

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