Lovers & Latchkeys: Tales From a Greenwich Village Girlhood

Will The Real Arthur Murray Please Stand Up?

MY father returns from his dance lesson all fired up. Hey mambo, mambo Italiano, go go go. He tries to show me the steps. Rather, he does show me the steps, and I try to learn them. My feet, in size eight brown and white saddle shoes, cannot negotiate the twists and turns of the tango or the mambo. Benched, I admire from the sidelines as he demonstrates. See? It’s so easy. I refuse a second chance. I have French homework like you wouldn’t believe.

Later, with the Hit Parade blaring in my room, I imagine him at the Stork Club snaking across the dance floor with a tall brunette in a short scarlet dress. It has fringes all over it that shimmer as she twirls. She would be a dead ringer for Cyd Charisse in that nightclub number from Singin’ in the Rain. And my father would be wearing his old penny loafers, just like Gene Kelly.

Arthur would be so proud!

Will the Real Arthur Murray Please Stand Up?

The pile of conjugated verbs grows larger. Finally, the DJ announces that The Great Pretender will be played next. It’s Number 3 this week. This makes me deeply happy. I wonder if my father got to meet the real Arthur Murray. I wonder if they danced together.

I wonder who took the lead.