There was a season when every where his face was literally everywhere. His face adorned three billboards on my way to work. Every television blared pictures of him and his accomplishments. Even Starbucks had little adverts with his smiling face.
I felt haunted my his image.
In order to handle the inundation, I'd just raise my hand to a billboard, advert, television, magazine, t-shirt, or whatever and say, "Hiya Mark" whenever I saw a picture of him. I did that as a kid so it wasn't so different.
And I had dreams about him and his struggle to beat the record. The dreams were vivid, emotional and left me exhausted in the morning. I felt as if he permeated my very being. I even had a Wiccan friend who did a ceremony to try to detach his spirit but the dreams continued.
How does this have to do with dance? We're getting there.
The weekend his team was in town, I made certain that we didn't go to a game. I stayed away. I didn't go visit him at batting practice and stayed far away from the hotel they were staying in. Safe, right?
Saturday night, we decided to go dancing. We have been practicing some swing dancing and, while I am not very good, I do love to dance. D and I had just become engaged and I was wearing my new channel set diamond ring.
I'll tell you, I was so excited to be going out dancing. D. had been sick that summer and we hadn't been out in a while. It was a real night out on the town with dinner and dancing! Yippee!
We decided to go to a club near downtown. After paying to get in, we danced for a while, then decided to sit and watch people dance.
What a scene! Men dressed in their best zoot suits swung women in big hoop skirts around. I was transfixed by the entire show.
D. says, "I'm kind of thirsty."
"Would you mind getting us some water? I'm going to use the restroom."
I shrug and walk over to the water cooler. I wait behind a couple people, then fill two large glasses full of water.
When I turn around there's this big guy standing right behind me with his back to me.
No way around because the floor is packed with people.
"Excuse me," I say, my hands filled with two glasses of water.
He turns around. The plastic smile on his face falls. His arms, which had been folded across his chest to accentuate his steroid induced biceps, dropped to his side.
He gawked at me.
I looked up at him with irritation.? I wanted this jerk to move, not stare at me.
Seeing his blue eyes and that red hair, my brown eyes popped open. It's embarrassing to admit this but my eyes filled with tears. The heart he broke, my heart, wrenched as if the injury was only a day old.
"Excuse me," I said through clenched teeth.
With his mouth flapping like a fish out of water, he steps back.
I move past him.
He reaches for me, catching my arm.
I whip around, sloshing some of the water onto the ground, to look at him.
He steps back.
I walk on then turn my head to give him one more "fuck you" look. Our eyes catch and he looks down.
I return to the table where D. is speaking with a lovely young woman who wondered if he wanted to dance. I was so distracted by this little woman that I didn't tell D. about the other guy. In fact, I didn't tell D. for years.
I'd tell you about the songs we danced to, the beautiful dresses, the handsome men, and the wonderful night. I could even tell you about the women who approached that other guy, the autographs he signed, or the way he sat drinking martinis and staring at me, but I'm not sure it matters much.
My heart didn't stop racing until we were safe at home.