Her voice was surprisingly clear, bridging the miles between Rome and Atlanta as if she were calling from down the street.
My wife, Susan, was excited. After all, this was her first trip abroad. Her first night in Europe.
She had returned from a long walk through a city full of celebration. This was the summer of 2006. Italy was on its way to winning the World Cup, and Romans were in a good mood.
Soon, Susan would link up with our daughter, who was completing a University of Georgia study abroad program. But she had a few hours to herself before then.
I checked in with her late that night. It must have been after midnight her time. Somewhere in her descriptions of the cafes, the historic streets, the people, she slipped it in.
“And I danced with Marco.”
She had my full attention now.
“We did the tango,” she said.
Within minutes, I was satisfied with the explanation.
Susan had passed a group of couples dancing near the Tiber River. She had asked them what dance they were doing. One of the individuals, Marco, asked if she would like to try.
A bit shy, Susan finally said, “yes.”
Our conversation lasted a few more minutes. After I hung up, I sat at my work station and smiled.
Susan. Rome. Dancing.
This must have been Heaven for her.
My wife has always loved to dance. Buck dancing. Rock. Pop. Hip-hop. Disco. Country. She even led our rookie group effort at the Atlanta Greek Festival a couple weeks back.
Dancing also resides in our three children’s DNA.
Those dancing genes didn’t come from me. I can feel rhythm, but just can’t emulate it on the dance floor. There are times I make a passable effort; often I come up short.
It isn’t for a lack of trying. In my youth, I knew it was a way to get the ladies’ attention. So I was motivated to give it my best shot. But I never seemed to get past an E for Effort. Then, time moved on. With marriage, raising a family took priority. We never got to those dance lessons.
Over the 30 years of our relationship, I’ve been up for dancing about once a year, generally at a charity benefit, wedding or a trip to Oktoberfest in Helen, Ga.
I do it because it makes Susan happy.
This may sound strange, but I actually like it when a talented dancer asks Susan to the dance floor, or vice-versa. I enjoy her smiles as she learns new styles and matches the moves of an accomplished hoofer. I’m not the jealous type.
Susan especially values the skills of older gentlemen who know the steps from a bygone era. She has danced the polka and waltz with them at Alpine-themed Helen and the jitterbug at a big band-themed benefit in Gwinnett County.
Still, my wife appreciates me trying to overcome my clumsiness and my fear of the dance floor, even if she has to lead.
And so it was this past Saturday. The family went to the beer-fueled Helen Festhalle to celebrate Susan’s birthday to the sounds of the Sauerkrauts and Roland Kurz.
And, of course, to dance.
We whirled across the dance floor. I did my best to keep in time and give the appearance I knew what I was doing.
It must have worked. Susan complimented me and said I was dancing well.
If only Marco could see us now.