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Mayme lays out the plan. “Okay, now when we go in there we will go into the ballroom and I will show you someone doing the swing. Then we will go back into the lobby and I will show you the basic step.” Eli gets the door for Mayme and she leans in to him and places a short but affectionate kiss on his lips as she passes by. He slides his hat under his belt so that half is behind and half hangs over. As they pass through the lobby Eli doesn’t notice if there is anyone at the desk. Mayme grabs his hand and pulls him into the ballroom. Geraldine is sitting at the same table as when we left but a man has joined her. Mayme jumps up and down as she waves from across the dance floor until she has gotten Geraldine’s attention. Geraldine waves back. There are still two chairs waiting for us. Eli is standing behind Mayme who is surveying the floor full of dancers. The all-girl band has given way to a male band. They are playing Crazy Rhythm. Mayme points to a couple dancing a few feet away. “There, see that couple Eli? The girl has a white blouse and blue skirt. They are doing the East Coast Swing.”

Eli immediately loses his confidence. “That looks complicated. Their feet are a blur. There is no way I can do that tonight.”

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“No defeatist attitudes here Eli,” Mayme demands. “Actually, the tempo of that song is very fast. We will sit the fast songs out to begin. And don’t try to analyze what they are doing. It only looks complicated and like I said we are going to do a single instead of triple so it is much simpler than it appears. I will show you how to do it. I just wanted you to have a mental picture of our mission. There is absolutely no pressure on you. We are here just to have fun and it is impossible for you to disappoint me. All these people are here to have fun too. They won’t be watching us dance so there is no reason for you to feel self-conscious. Okay let’s go out to the lobby,” she says as the music ends. She takes his hand again but this time walks next to him. After passing through the door she takes about ten steps to the left of the door. She observes, “Okay this is good. We are out of sight and should be able to hear the music here.” The band starts to play Anything Goes, another fast tempo. Eli looks toward the hotel desk. The clerk is busy and apparently unaware of their presence. The bellman is gone so Eli is somewhat relieved that maybe he can get through his dance instruction without embarrassment. Eli turns back toward Mayme and she is looking at the desk too. She turns toward Eli and says, “The first thing you have to learn is how we hold hands. In fact, for the swing we don’t really hold them but we loosely rest our hands together. It’s more like we have paws and since we don’t have thumbs we can’t grip each other. Here, hold your paws like this.” She holds her arms bent at the elbow and her hands with palms facing each other. Her fingers are together and bent so the tips of her fingers are pointing at each other about eight inches apart. Her thumbs are relaxed pointing slightly upward.

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Eli complies as he asks, “Like this?” while holding his hands to mimic Mayme.

“Yes, that’s perfect. So now I put my paws like this and just hook your paws.” Mayme keeps her hands in that same form but turns them so now each hand has fingers pointing down. Then she places her bent fingers on top of Eli’s bent fingers. “See? Now it’s like my paws make downward hooks that fit on top of your sideways hooks. We are hooked together but it allows any kind of movement without restraint. From now on don’t think about the position of your hands but just that we remain hooked. Now we will just stay hooked and wait for the next song to start.” A few moments pass as they gaze into each other’s eyes while the band leader continues talking. Mayme breaks the silence, “You have made me so happy, Eli, and I love you so much. My mental picture of the rest of my life has gone from mundane to exciting in just a few hours.”

Eli releases her paws, pulls Mayme close and holds her tightly while he whispers in her ear, “Mine too, Mayme. I love you.”

“Heaven itself could be no more pleasurable then your embrace,” Mayme softly replies. They silently keep their embrace while waiting. The music starts again and simultaneously they slowly pull away from each other. Mayme’s exuberance returns as she commands in military style, “Present paws!” Eli grins as he snaps to attention and puts his hands in the paw hook position. Mayme laughs and continues, “Connect hooks! Oh, good I’ve Heard That Song Before has a perfect tempo to learn dancing the swing.”

Eli interjects, “I thought you had heard all these songs before, Mayme. You sing with every one of them.”

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”Oh, you’re real funny Eli. It’s the right tempo and count...” Mayme looks at Eli’s face which must be showing his puzzlement and she interrupts herself, “Oh, you weren’t being funny. You really haven’t heard this song before. I’ve Heard That Song Before is the title. It came out just recently, probably since you left home. I thought you were doing the Who’s On First routine.”

A moment passes then, “Oh, I get it, Abbot and Costello.” Eli replies as he understands his unintended double meaning. “I love that skit. We listened to it a few years ago. I remember both my sisters were home and we laughed so hard I couldn’t hear all of it. I wish I could hear it again.”

“I loved it too but we’re getting sidetracked Eli and we don’t have time to get sidetracked. Okay, we need four beats to the measure. Now, all you have to do is feel the beat and step. Each foot takes a step for each beat. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. It’s just like walking but it makes a difference which foot goes with the downbeat. You have to feel the downbeat, Eli. I want you to count the beats of the music. Start with one when you feel the downbeat.”

“This I can get. I was in band,” Eli concentrates on the music then starts counting, “One, two, three...” then stops as Mayme interrupts.

“Great, Eli. Okay, now on the downbeat you start with your left foot and I start with my right. One, two, three, four, left, right, left, right. Good just keep doing that.” She instructs as she is just stepping in place to the cadence of the music.

Eli is imitating Mayme’s step and after a couple dozen steps he comments, “This feels silly. We are just marching in one place.”

“That is what dancing is Eli. It’s as simple as this. Walking with a beat. The same for marching except for dancing we will add twirls and

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turns. And we also hold paws which you don’t do while marching.” she says as she takes both of Eli’s hands. “Okay you have that,” Mayme observes as she watches his feet mirror hers. “You are halfway there. Now keep stepping and I am going to add something new. Watch my feet, on the downbeat I will step back with my right foot. One, two, three, four, back, two, three, four, back, two, three, four. Okay, now keep counting and on the one you will step back with your left foot so you are opposite me.” Eli complies. As he repeats the back step a few times he feels like maybe he is going to get it. “Now, all you have to do is that step. That back step is the most important part of this dance. Notice how when we do that it opens the space between us. It is that space that allows everything to happen. We will just do this for a minute so you feel natural doing it,” Mayme instructs. “Get a firm mental grip on what you are doing.” As they continue dancing she continues offering tips. “Here is the secret. All you think about is that back step. Don’t try to anticipate what I am going to do and don’t resist what I am doing. Let me lead you. Be loose and relaxed. I will always have at least one hand with yours at all times, gently pulling or pushing.” As I’ve Heard That Song Before ends Mayme takes over with a verbal count of beats and we continue just as if the music never stopped. “When the next song starts, if the tempo is correct, we will continue and I will start doing different things on the back steps.” Mayme keeps contact with both of his hands as they continue stepping to her count but with no music. Music soon resumes with So Rare and Mayme considers the tempo, “This song has a slightly faster tempo but it should still work for you. Keep stepping.” Mayme releases Eli’s right hand. She pushes his left hand to his right as she starts her back step. She turns her body to face away from Eli’s right then as she goes into

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the normal step turns back to face Eli. “That is what I call opening up. It is the simplest move we do and is a prelude to almost every move we will make. Next time, when you feel me push your hand you will turn that way so we both face the same direction. In fact, from now on I will announce my moves before we get to the down beat. It will be like square dancing but I will be the caller. I will call that ‘open right’ which will be your right. We can do an open left too by dropping your left hand. We will do a few of those now,” Mayme coaches as we have kept the basic steps going. “You are doing great, Eli.” She compliments Eli as they resume just the basic back stepping. He doesn’t say anything as he concentrates on her every instruction. Apparently she doesn’t need his reply to her comments and she continues, “On our next step we will go around each other. So after the back step the next steps we take both go forward so we pass each other. I think this is why it’s called the swing because the back step reverses our motion and makes us swing past each other as we go around. Three, four, back step…” After the back step she steps forward and goes around Eli. He remains stationary but her hand gently pulls him to turn and face her as she goes by. Then she falls back to the basic steps. “Next time you walk forward on the two, three, four like I did. Three, four back step, walk forward.” Eli strides forward on the next three steps and on the next back step we are so far apart our paws come unhooked. Mayme requests, “Take smaller steps Eli. We don’t ever want to pull hard on each other. Let’s do it again. Three, four, back step….” After the back step he walks forward again and this time when he back steps he is just at arm’s length apart. “That was perfect Eli. You are a great student. It turns out you are a natural at this.”

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“You may be right Mayme. It’s amazing how it works. It’s just so much easier than I thought it would be. You are such a great dancer it makes it easy for me.”

“Just so we don’t confuse you, for tonight we will always go around so I am on your left but when you get back we will swing both ways.” I laugh to myself as I realize what she just said will have an entirely different meaning fifty years from now. “So for now just concentrate on the back step and I will always get you there. Let’s go,” Mayme coaxes as she grabs Eli’s shoulders. She spins him around then lightly begins to push him toward the ballroom door.

As So Rare ends Eli applies his brakes and says with hesitation, “We are already done with training? I’m not sure I’m ready for this.”

“You’re not done training but we will continue on the dance floor. I assure you that you are ready. From here on out training will be just as it has been out here in the hallway with me giving instructions while we have been back stepping. Trust me that you now know enough to make it look like you know what you are doing while you learn,” Mayme asserts as she applies more pressure to Eli’s back. Eli relinquishes resistance and willingly heads to the door. As he opens the door Mayme comments, “It will be much more fun on the dance floor. You’ll see.” After they get through the door Mayme excitedly bounces around Eli and grabs his right hand then while still bouncing pulls him to a small unoccupied area in the corner of the dance floor. They stop and Mayme says “We have a little more room here so this is where we continue your training Eli.” She looks deeply into Eli’s eyes and says, “I am so excited I can’t stand it Eli.” Then she throws her arms around Eli’s neck and plants a passionate kiss on his lips while she must have lifted her legs because he can feel all her weight.

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Eli responds by putting both arms tightly around her waist and swinging her around in a circle. As he releases her he says, “Your exuberance is contagious, Mayme. I love being with you.”

“Me too!” She returns enthusiastically, takes both of Eli’s hands, then continues, “Imagination is a good song for us so we have to get back to doing our swing step. 2 3….” With that she pushes him back and commands, “Hook paws and back step! Good Eli,” she says as they resume the basic step again. “Now to dress this up and make it look like we know what we’re doing we will start on twirls. On twirls we will start by doing an open but you don’t turn. So if I announce a twirl you will continue facing me. I will lift your hand over my head. As I do so always keep loose contact with my hand but let it turn in your fingertips.” Mayme announces, “Twirl.” She lifts Eli’s hand up and as instructed he keeps his face toward her. Eli holds his hand directly over her head as she twirls. “You lost your back step, Eli,” Mayme complains. She resumes counting to get Eli back on track. “3 4 back 2 3 4. I didn’t instruct you accurately about not turning. You don’t turn in the same direction I am going but you do turn so you are facing me as I twirl. As I twirl we are going to go past each other like the swing step but I will be twirling as I go past you. Also, as I turn, make your hand go in a circle over my head as if you were pushing me through my turn so it will look as you are leading. But you did well in letting my fingers turn in yours.” They continue back stepping as she is talking. “Ok, here we go. 3 4 Twirl.” This time Eli follows instructions to the letter and has his hand go in a circle over Mayme’s head as she twirls. After she finishes her twirl Eli goes into back stepping. “That was great, Eli. You did that perfectly. One more time, twirl,” She commands and Eli complies as though he has done it a hundred times.

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He is feeling a lot of pride in himself. “Wow, Eli, that’s good. Did you notice as I do turns we always get back to a spot where that back step automatically fits in?”

“Just like clockwork!” Eli exclaims. He understands what everyone loves about dancing. “This is amazing! You are a terrific instructor. I am actually dancing good enough to be out here with other dancers. No one is looking at me Mayme. I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself. This is so much fun! We are going to the Coliseum in Oelwein every week.”

“That’s great, Eli. I can’t wait. I have you hooked now.” Eli thought his proposal for weekly dancing would evoke more enthusiasm from Mayme so he is surprised when she abruptly continues, “Okay now we are going to add one more step. You will graduate from dance lessons with the cuddle.”

Eli thinks possibly Mayme didn’t understand his Coliseum remark so he interjects, “I thought you would be more excited about us going dancing every week, Mayme.”

“Oh, Eli,” she swoons, “I am so excited but we are so short on time.” Mayme is so focused and determined that I can see once she has a goal nothing is going to stop her. “After we learn the cuddle we can just dance which will leave more time for small talk while we’re dancing. I’ve never had a dance partner with whom I had a romantic interest in before so now this will probably become my favorite step.”

“Just from the name I know it’s going to be my favorite already,” Eli says as Imagination ends.

“We don’t need the music for me so show you what were are doing so I’ll start. Present paws!” Eli complies by holding out his hands in the hook formation. She hooks his hooks and instructs, “You

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stay stationary and I will step toward you. It starts out like a twirl but we keep contact with both hands. As I approach I will raise your left hand so our arms form a bridge for me to step under like this.” She steps slowly under the bridge while keeping contact with both of Eli’s hands. As she goes under his right arm she makes a 180 degree counterclockwise turn. Eli’s right hand, keeping contact with Mayme’s left hand, naturally goes around behind her waist with her left arm crossing in front of her waist holding his right hand at her right side. Eli’s left arm crosses in front of his waist and holds Mayme’s right hand at her left side. Now they are both facing the same direction with her arms crossed in front of her and his right arm around her. The lack of music doesn’t faze Mayme at all as they both continue back stepping she says, “This is the cuddle. We can stay in this position and continue our back stepping as long as we want however it’s usually not more than eight beats. You notice now when we back step we move in the same direction at the same time rather than opposite. Here is another thing we can do. Now don’t let our hands separate.” She takes one step forward and to the left so she is in front of Eli then continues with two more steps to the left. With the next back step she ends up on Eli’s left side with her arms still crossed in front of her. Now Eli’s left arm is around her waist, a complete reversal of the first position without letting go of either hand. She says, “Now when we do that from now on I’ll call ‘reverse’ because we are reversing the cuddle. Then you step behind me at the same time so I don’t have to step forward so far to get around you.”

“Wow, that’s amazing Mayme. And fun too!”

“Okay Eli, now we have every step we are going to do tonight. You’ll learn more when you get back to me.”

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“Will you be giving me lessons on how to throw you around like the other dancers were doing earlier?” Eli jokes.

“You’re funny the way you make it sound, Eli. But you definitely have the strength to do those lifts so yes, you will learn to do that. For now, though, all we have to do is wait for the music to start again. I wish the band leader would quit rambling on.” They both fall silent patiently facing each other while holding hands as they wait for the band leader to start the music. He announces they will be taking a fifteen minute break which provokes Mayme to complain, “Rats! We were just going to really start dancing. Well, let’s head back.”

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