Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 33

The Dance

     Tim was sitting at one of the circular cement tables in front of the deli with Enoch and Diana, waiting for Meredith. He had given them only a brief account of her break-up with Jimmy and subsequent collapse, concluding, “She’s coming out here to recover.”

Diana replied, “She’s certainly an interesting young lady, and her boy friend’s gone. It looks like a chance for you, Tim.”

“Of course, there’s Melissa.”

“Isn’t she married?”

Diana’s tone suggested that there were things wrong with Melissa, quite apart from being married. There was even a slight frown that might have been theatrical. Enoch added, “I originally selected Melissa to interview us, Tim. She did a fine job by all accounts. But I don’t have anything more to say. Do you?”

Enoch had evidently learned the art of faint praise from Diana. But Tim wasn’t going to drop Melissa just because of that. He replied, “Doesn’t a poor guy with a broken leg get to have a little fun now and then?”

Diana replied, “I don’t feel a bit sorry for you, Tim. You manage to squeeze enjoyment out of anything and everything. But some kinds of enjoyment are more fulfilling than others.”

So it seemed that Melissa provided a kind of enjoyment which was light on fulfillment. Enoch started laughing. He could keep up this sort of thing for a while, but he burst out, “Tim, that lady is so frustrated that she’ll wind up fucking half the Sailors’ locker room. Some of those guys have things you don’t want to catch.”

“Well, yes, that’s possible.”

Diana said, “Then, there’s Melissa’s friend. The one who slipped you her calling card. You also said that she looks like Sharon. That should be interesting.”

“That was just at first sight. She’s actually pretty different.”

“In any case, she might also be good fun for a man with a cast on his leg. I bet you haven’t tried her yet.”

As they spoke of other things, Tim counted up all the people who would be pleased if he took up with Meredith: Audrey, Howie, Diana, Enoch, Sharon, Doris, and probably even Jimmy. Had anyone wondered whether Meredith wanted to be taken up with? Was it just the desire for neatness and symmetry with no loose ends that motivated everyone? But, then, what about Sharon? Was she a loose end?

     When the others arrived, Tim, on one crutch, managed to give Meredith a hug. He then said, “We’ve a mission for you. You’re to help us chaperon a high school dance.”

That seemed to delight her. She replied, “I’ve always wanted to do that. Are you going to dance by hopping on one leg?”

“Something will evolve.”

     Tim knew that high school dances were not what they had once been. It was alleged that couples came close to having sexual intercourse right on the dance floor. A few years previously in San Diego, a scandal had erupted when two female school administrators had checked the girls coming in to see that they had panties. This was done with the lifting of skirts right in front of the boys, and some folks thought it a bit too suggestive. The administrators got in trouble, but their defense was that things had reached such a pass that strong preventive measures were required. Diana’s reaction on hearing about this was,

“The trouble is that there aren’t enough adults present. You can’t let a hundred or so highly sexed kids loose on a gym dance floor with just a couple of teachers muttering and telling people to stop. They’ll be drowned out.”

Sharon explained about the videotaping and added, “Our group of chaperones, plus whatever I am, should go a long way to redress the imbalance.”

     On the Saturday night, the five visitors picked up Chris at his home, a modest tract house in a large subdivision. As one of four people in the back seat, partly underneath Diana and Sharon, he got a few thrills on the short ride to the school. Enoch was driving Diana’s rental car, and he blew the horn repeatedly as he drove into the school yard. When Tim, stretched out in the passenger seat, looked questioningly at him, he replied, “We have to do things the high school way tonight.”

“Having all these people on top of one another in the car should also strike the right note.”

“Particularly when they try to get out of the back seat. When you’re in the middle of a bunch of crazy kids, it’s best to be crazier than they are.”

Tim agreed. He had once known a man whose wife, on becoming a lesbian, had left him with two teen-aged daughters. The man, going on planned furniture-breaking rampages, had managed to awe the girls and their boy-friends into restrained behavior. He hoped that nothing like that would be required on this night.

     As it happened, awe came early as Enoch helped the ladies out of the back seat. He was immediately recognized, and Tim heard a boy say, in a rather alarmed voice, “What the fuck is he doing here?’     

Soon afterwards, Tim was also recognized. He didn’t think he would have been without Enoch, but it hardly mattered at this point. All the youths around them stopped talking. Meredith, Diana, and Sharon, emerging from the back seat with a certain amount of display, had an effect which caused Enoch to whisper to Tim, “Some of these guys are pissing in their pants.”

Tim agreed that it was a strong possibility, but, when Chris got out last, it seemed more than a possibility. The boy nearest Tim said, “Shit!”

It was an expressive ‘shit.’ There was an element of amazement, but also one of disgust. It seemed to Tim that the boy didn’t like having one whom he had held in contempt vault over him in terms of prestige. However, as Sharon walked hand-in-hand with Chris, flanked by the others, there was no denying that, in the attitudes of the larger group, such a vault had occurred. Tim didn’t think that Chris would be bullied the rest of the year, and wondered if he had anticipated this outcome.

     The two lady teachers, probably dragooned to be the regular chaperones, seemed almost as amazed as the students.  However, they were delighted to be reinforced, and one, Jane Heber, turned out to be Chris’ favorite teacher. She said to Tim, “You’re solving a whole bunch of problems at one stroke.”

“These look like nice kids, but I guess they still aren’t easy to manage.”

“They’re actually fairly good kids, not gang members or anything like that. But, en masse like this, it’s a problem.”

“It’s surprising that there are only the two of you.”

“No one wants to chaperone. But we do have one teacher, a big Samoan guy, who does beautifully with the kids. A few weeks ago, he got from a medical student friend an ossified human finger from a cadaver. He put it in a little pouch, hung it from his belt, and kept playing with it in front of the students. The other day, when he was called to the office, he left it on the desk. He told no one to touch it, and he even appointed the biggest kid to guard it. When he came back, there was complete silence in that classroom for the first time in the history of the school.”

“Wow! Enoch was saying that you have to be crazier than the kids to keep control of them.”

“Which is fine, if you can do it. There’s no way I could do things like that.”

“But you don’t have to do that with Chris.”

“Chris is great. All I do is facilitate his learning here and there. He’s told me about you and your friends, so your turning up here isn’t a total surprise to me.”

“I really don’t know how to dance, so it’s just as well that I have a broken leg.”

“Nowadays, almost anything counts as dancing.”

“People say that, and tell me to do what I want. Then, when I do it, they tell me that it isn’t dancing.”

“Anyhow, your sister is already dancing with Chris. She’s really delightful.”

“Yes. I’ve never seen her dance before, and I’m a little surprised that Chris knows how.”

“I think his father dragged him to dancing school.”

“Chris called up and invited Sharon all of a sudden.”

“This must be his first date. He’ll do things you don’t expect.”

“When he came up to kayak with us, he turned out to be much stronger and more energetic than he looks.”

“He told me about that. I think he was thrilled.”

“We’re very pleased to have him as a friend. Our tight little group needs some new influences.”

“It’s funny when I’m with Chris. He’s the only student who knows more than I do. We’ve had long talks at recess, and I find him a very good companion. I wonder if he might be for Sharon as well.”

“He already is. Beyond that, I don’t think she really believes in boy friends and girl friends.”

“Excuse me for prying. Along with his father, I try to look out for Chris.”

“I gathered that his mother isn’t helping very much.”

“She’s a nice lady in her way. A little older than Duane, and quite attractive. Some men who haven’t had much experience will marry a pretty woman who seems more sophisticated. But I think she has no idea what to make of Chris. She seems to be okay with his younger brother and sister, who are just normally bright kids.”

“I do think that Chris may over-estimate us. I’m just out of college, and not in graduate school.”

“You’re also a pro football star.”

“No. Enoch is. I’ve played my last game, and I’ll be happy to leave with the money. All of us are trying to figure out what to do next.”

At that moment, Meredith came over, and, apparently overhearing Tim, said, “We won’t be static. We’ll have a floating Zoroastrian community that sneaks up on partying yachts and chants verses at them.”

Jane looked surprised, and Meredith explained, “It’s a very simple religion. There’s light and dark, corresponding to good and evil, but the sun eventually melts the black ice in the valleys. We dance and sing in the light, and San Diego is a good place to do it. Lots of sunlight.”

Meredith, in her animation, looked even prettier than usual. When she then went up to a handsome boy and asked him to dance, he was obviously pleased. As they went spinning across the floor, Tim accompanied Jane to some chairs that had been set aside for the adults. She said, “It happens that I did see the game where you got hurt on TV. You and Enoch were very impressive.”

“I can only do a few things. Enoch combines speed, quickness, strength, and agility with great hands.”

“That’s quite a combination.”

“You don’t realize the magnitude of it until you try to stay with him. Diana says that it reminds her of ballet, but it’s much more than that.”

“Ballet dancers don’t have to run that fast, knock people down, and make leaping catches of footballs. Football is the perfect medium for him isn’t it?”

“Well, he’s about to quit. We’ll have to find something for him to make up for it.”

“Diana’s remarkably beautiful. That may help.”

“Yes. But it’s going to take a whole lot to make up for that kind of excitement. Boxers say that everything is dull compared to being in the ring, and football at the NFL level is a bit like that.”

“I know a man, a generation older than Enoch, who was a defensive back on the Pittsburgh Steeler super bowl teams. He has enormous energy that’s just spread out in all directions. Some sporting, some business, and some youth work.”

“So it takes a lot of different things to replace the one overpowering activity?”

“So it seems.”

“I can imagine that happening with Enoch. I don’t know about the rest of us.”

“But you seem open to almost anything. That’s a very good starting point.”

Such a thought had never occurred to Tim. He and his friends really didn’t have the sorts of ideologies or fixed ideas or plans that closed a lot of doors.

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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