Remember the Abba song “Dancing Queen”? Well, I do too, but for a different reason.
Once in awhile our mother would give us a little glimpse into her early years as an adult living in Chicago. Often the information she shared was not particularly age-appropriate for us to know as children or teenagers, but Mother really did not have a filter on her sharing. And of course, she told so many tales that we often wondered as to the truthfulness.
When asked about what she enjoyed doing when she was single, she would often say dancing. My sister Abby and I were somewhat perplexed by this revelation. First of all, Mother had no rhythm and when we met up with her, so to speak, she also didn’t like to move very much. Or to engage in any other physical activity (aside, or course, from the 16 ounce glass-lift at the local bar). So trying to imagine Mother dancing was quite a picture.
We wondered where she went to dance. Yes, it was always at a bar, no surprise there. Who were her dancing partners? “A variety of men” was her answer. No surprise there either as we could only imagine most men would notice how strong her personality was and try to escape before it was too late. Most sober men, I suppose, would be inclined to run like hell. The drunken men, not so much.
Mother told us how much she enjoyed dancing. Even at our young ages, we knew Mother meant she enjoyed the liquid refreshment that was served at the joints she frequented. The more dance partners, the more opportunity to get free liquor. No doubt the longer into the night, the more the dancing became a sloppy, inebriated nightmare. Trying to be graceful when in a drunken state does not paint a pretty picture.
Well into her later years, mother would expound on the joy of dancing and my sister and I would once again wonder if she was living in Fantasyland or if she was truly the dancing queen of Chicago.