Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day
THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
“Salsa dancing, for real?” My question was for Toni, the R&B, slow dance connoisseur. What was up with the Latin sound?
“Vic—it’s a gas—you’re gonna love it! I’ve been doing classes; I’ll teach you the basics, and we’ll go out—you find the clubs in Seattle!”
I was clueless. I didn’t even know what salsa music sounded like in 2002, but my girl Toni was impressed, and lord knows I trusted her taste in all things music and dance. She’d been my new music DJ forever—first taping cassettes, then later burning discs—always the first to discover the next best artist, always scoring the greatest playlists.
She and I had been solid friends, without lies or longing, for close to a decade now. We’d once been comrades and adversaries in a life lesson called love; and somehow we got lucky and were at peace with how things had unfolded.
Maturity had kicked in. By now she had experienced the lesbian equivalent of marriage, and I had done the legally recognized version; and we just got real and got over ourselves. We talked on the phone maybe every other month; it was fun being friends with my former partner in crime. She and her wife had split after half a dozen years, and she had dated casually ever since. I was her favorite audience for describing the comic dramas that played out in her romantic life as a middle-aged lesbian. I heard it all, and teased her relentlessly about her questionable choices and hilarious situations.
She was burning to turn me on to salsa, so we picked a weekend and I asked Jon if he was cool with a houseguest. “Sure, babe. Sounds good. But only if I can come too.” I kissed his face and laughed at the rare joke. We both knew that nothing would make my husband happier that an evening at home, while his wife was getting her social hit with one of her best girlfriends.
Toni showed up a few weeks later, and she was right about this new dance; it was something to get serious about: salsa sizzled. The beat was new to me, and I could barely follow the steps, but I wanted to learn the sexy styling and dramatic spins that I saw on that dance floor. We got home late, and I hung with her in the guest room for more girl talk before I said goodnight, and crawled into bed with Jon.
“You two have fun?” he mumbled, not needing to know. “The best, baby,” I whispered, squeezing into his backside. “Now, back to sleep. I love you. G’night.”
I found a salsa school, and unbelievably after the first week I was drafted—my teacher wanted me to join her performance group! I called Toni with the news.
“You’re going to do it, right?”
“Hell yes, I’m doing it! Rehearsal starts next week, and get this, she picked me because I know nothing. She wants to make a dancer out of me!”
I began dancing four nights a week, with two rehearsals and two classes. There were seven of us in the group, and I was the only one without a dance background. I was also the only one born before 1974—way before. I was definitely over my head with a steep learning curve. The only way for me to get to a performance level was through hours of home practice where I focused on choreography and shines, which are the solo moves without a partner. It was like learning two completely different dances, and my partnering skills—the reason I wanted to learn the dance—floundered in comparison.
Toni came up and joined Jon and my mom and a handful of other friends for the first performance. I was nervous that night, and almost regretted that I’d dragged everyone out. Plus, there were so many hot dancers in the crowd—and I mean salsa hot—and my skill level was ridiculously shallow. But I had a theatre background, so I copped my best showbiz attitude. I was forty-three years old and I decided to make the most of the long overdue event; opening night would be my very first dance recital!
The show was a hit, and where I was weak in execution, I distracted with my enthusiasm. I fumbled one moment and missed a break turn, but my personal audience didn’t notice; it was nothing but big hugs and high fives after the show. Jon opened his arms for a premiere victory hug, but his smile fell to horror when he caught sight of the false eyelashes and heavy stage makeup.
“Babe, my God, what happened to you?” It was so like Jon to kill the moment, but Toni interrupted.
“Damn, Vic! You were great!”
“No! I blew it! Did you see that turn—oh God, tell me—how awful was it?”
“No way, get over it—you made it disappear! You’re a pro! I can’t believe how good you are!” She wrapped her arms around me. “I’m so proud of you, Vicki Marie!”
I picked up the phone on a Saturday morning several months after the first gig. “Come to Paris with me.” It was Toni. I said yes, waiting for the punch line. “I mean it. I’m going to see my family for a few weeks. Meet me in Nice.”
No way! A girl trip to France? Yes, holy yes! I told Jon when he got home. “That’s great, babe—you two will have fun.”
“Can you believe it? Salsa dancing in Paris! I can’t wait!”
TOMORROW: Chapter 5
Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.
Last week, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for translation services, so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, plus there are several other fabulous rewards!