Tonight my husband and I went to Ikea to do some light shopping (he wants some new furniture for his He-Man room) and while there we decided to get dinner. This visit to the store was probably the fifth time I’ve been since it opened in late 2017 and was the first time I didn’t have to park a football field away or sift through crowds to get through the place or wait in long lines at the cafeteria or checkout.
While eating, a certain song started playing over the Ikea store’s sound system. It was a Wild Cherry song called, “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” It’s a song I hardly ever hear and which actually predates me by four years. At the risk of sounding like a old man, it reminds me of a time when pop stars had to possess far more quality than they seem to need now. Back then, artists didn’t really have anything in the way of voice scrubbing or synthesizers to “fake” music. But that’s neither here nor there.
At first when the music came on and my mind picked up on it I boogied a little in my seat while biting into my meal. I imagined how I might dance to the song, were I to stand from the dinner table. While seeing myself dance around before my mind’s eye, I was soon joined by an unexpected guest. Her name was Alison. It’s not Alison anymore because she’s dead. Her name is either Nothing or else perhaps she’s transmigrated, taken a new human body, and been born again as someone else with a new name. Before Alison died last time, she worked where I do. I never really interacted with her. In fact, I’m not really sure what she did for the company aside from thinking I remember hearing that she was in our legal department. I think she was a smoker and I think that’s what killed her, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of, though, and it’s the reason Alison joined me for a dinnertime dance tonight, is that she LOVED to dance. She’d dance with anybody or she’d dance by herself. I know this only because the one real memory I have of Alison is from one company holiday party. The Wild Cherry song came on and for a few minutes Alison was the only person on the dance floor, utterly unaffected by that fact. She had shoulder-length, fine, bleach blonde hair and when she danced she would do a certain movement with her head and neck so as to cause her hair to fly a bit. Alison wasn’t a tiny gal by any means and I think that limited her range of possible dance moves. Her generation, the one before mine, also seemed to be fonder of more generalized ways of dancing. You just got out there and moved. You might do a certain, specific dance move sometimes but a lot of what I’ve seen is just good ole rug cutting. Just get out there and jam! Alison would get out there and shuffle her butt all over the place!
(Back at Ikea) While the song was playing still, and when I found a quick second to stop dancing with Alison, I returned to the dinner table and mentioned her to my husband. He worked there even before me and he was well aware of Alison and her “prowess” on the dance floor. His face lit up a little when I mentioned the song playing and my clear memory of Alison gettin’ out there and doin’ her stuff. (FACT: My husband’s face should ALWAYS light up. His smile is darling. His blue eyes are amazing. And the smile lines at the outside corners of those blue eyes not only make me melt but also fill me with all the gratitude – so lucky am I to be with him. It’s the handsomest vision of God I’ve known.) I was glad that my husband was seeing in his mind what I saw in mine.
As the song finished and my dinner dance with Alison from the legal department ended, I found myself unexpectedly overcome. Literally. I had to put my head down and in a very real way fight back tears and I almost openly wept there in the Ikea cafeteria. Trust me – my husband would confirm that my version of openly weeping is NOT gorgeous. But I was so overcome, and even now recounting it causes me to cry some. You see, the SOLE memory I have of this human is that of her dancing. If I were to bump into her family and reminisce at all, the ONLY thing I would be able to say is, “Boy – she LOVED to dance!”
I’m not fooled into thinking that lonesome dancing is all there was to Alison. Like every other human, she entered this life with baggage. She carried that baggage throughout her life’s duration, and when she departed this life (…if cause and effect mean anything in this universe…) she probably took some of it with her. But it – my memory of her – strikes me as wholly precious. She could have stayed on the sidelines like I was at the company party – talking with people about how the President is terrible or how the parking garage badly needs repaired. But she danced. What kinda world might we inhabit if we lived our lives in such a way that the only memories anyone had of us – the only memories we gave to others – were sweet and simple and the kind that make handsome husbands broadly smile?
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti