Saturday and the band is playing. Live. In the park. The music is son cubano, so I have no idea how to dance to it, but I´ll try.
The first gentleman to lead me onto the cement is two very long heads shorter than me and, possibly, four times older. Although fearing he´ll drop dead on the spot (or worse) on me, I try to follow him. I don´t think that I do a very good job, but I must be wrong because, apparently, I´ve become his last dying wish. Others are asking me to dance, and I take them up on their offers, but each time I leave the floor, this diminuitive dapper don re-appears at my elbow, like a shadow cut off at the knees.
Speaking of leg parts, I have left my belongings under the feet of several people seated on the rim of a huge, empty fountain. When there´s a lull between dances, I chat with a woman who bears an uncanny and somewhat disturbing resemblence to the Katerinas or skeletal figures popular here in Mexico. A young couple asks where I am from, and I ask if it´s the color of my eyes or the way I speak Spanish that has given me away.
"Ït´s that you can´t dance," replies the young man.
I am squashed but not crushed.
Meanwhile, out of the middle of my eye, I see my wizened admirer moving stealthily towards me. I neither want to hurt his feelings nor encourage him, so I ask my new acquaintances to rescue me from a situation that they are finding rather amusing. The young man who just insulted me takes my hand.
We dance. Quite well. So there!
I dance with the emcee, a hippiesque guy whom I´d met the year before. I had danced with him (here) only yesterday. When my foot started aching, I´d told him I couldn´t continue dancing with him or with anyone else. He suggested a foot massage. In a jacuzzi. With him. Now he asks if I´ve read the pamphlet he wrote about the park´s history and which he´d given me yesterday, prejacuzzi offer turndown. I haven´t.
I dance with my friend Jose. He´s the macaroni-shaped man I danced with frequently last year. He makes me look better than I am, which is the role of a male lead.
Everytime I go to sit down by my newly fountain friends, someone else requests a dance.
As he´s turning me, a man I recognize from last summer tells me I´ve improved. Compliments always challenge me to disprove what the person has just told me. So, naturally, I mess up. I´m the bella donna of the ball.
When the band winds down, I follow a woman I´ve gotten to know over the last couple of days, a livewire from Veracruz, to another part of the park. We do a couple of zumba routines, led by an energetic teacher and his many talented fellow-minions. It´s raining a bit, so when we meet up with some of her friends, we all decide that we´d prefer to dance someplace where we won´t get wet.
Everyone´s debating where we should go (Romo? The Convention Center?), even as we pull into a parking lot. The Convention Center it is. Live band, lively crowd. As soon as we sit down, those of us who haven´t come accompanied by husbands or partners are whisked onto the dance floor.
Three men keep coming back for me, pretty good dancers all. It´s early, but I have to pack. Leaving tomorrow for Cuernavaca. Ciao for now.