Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gotta Dance

For She Is a Lover of Life
Pastel on paper
by Judy Westergard

available as a giclee print

I wasn’t always a painter, nor was I always a writer. No, my entry into the art world started with the dance...tap dance, to be precise. My goal was to be a dancing Old Gold® cigarette package, or at least her side kick, the dancing match box. Long-limbed, high-stepping tappers in tasseled white boots, dancing in a synchronized tap routine that would make a close-order drill sergeant envious, now this was glamour! I sat so closely to our small black and white television set that my breath fogged the screen. My feet twitched, my imagination took off. If I just practiced enough....
The first thing I needed was the shoes. This was easy. My Sunday shoes had cleats -- small, kidney shaped pieces of metal that the local shoemaker attached to the heels and toes of our shoes with the idea that we’d not wear them out before we outgrew them.
The challenge of a costume was next. Off came my corduroy slacks and my functional sweater. If I squinted my eyes, the edges of my pink Carter’s underwear blended enough with my skinny legs so that the resulting image resembled a dancer’s leotard.

My cleats made a satisfying click on the kitchen linoleum, but kitchen dancing was for those without vision. I was after the glamorous world of TV. I’d already figured out that if I set the living room lamp just so, I could see my reflection in the TV screen.
So the living room is where I danced, my flailing arms and skinny legs in cleated Mary Janes working hard to master the shuffle ball step in front of a blank television screen. On nylon carpeting. Which snagged. A lot.
Alas, as quickly as my plans for TV fame arose, they ended. My mother let me know rather stringently that the (now snagged) nylon carpeting was off limits. It was probably all for the best. Given today’s anti-smoking culture, there probably wouldn’t be much call for a dancing cigarette package.

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