Updated: Aug 7, 2018
by Emery Lazar
A tea dance at the Waldorf Astoria, sponsored by the Hungarian American Alumni Association. I have never heard of this organization! But since this Saturday’s performance at the Metropolitan Opera is completely sold out, maybe I should go to the tea dance. It may offer good company for a lonely 29-year-old.
Wow! I have never been to this opulent place, but it’s exactly how I imagined it! “Excuse me, Sir, in what suite is the Hungarian American Alumni Association’s tea dance being held? …… At the Mezzanine level? Thank you!”
I feel awkward among all these strangers. Where is there a place to sit? But wait, the music has just stopped! It’s time to ask one of the young ladies for a dance. Whom should I ask? Ah, there is a table at the back of the suite with three ladies and two men. Maybe one of the ladies would want to dance with me.
I approach the table with no little anxiety. Which one of the three shall I ask to dance with me? Perhaps the one who sits closest to the end of the table. “Hello, may I ask you for a dance?” With an embarrassed smile, the young lady says: “No, I am sorry, I am here with a friend.”
The young lady’s embarrassment is contagious, because now I feel very awkward! But a quick rebound is in order, to save the day. Turning to the young woman sitting next to the one who just rejected me, I boldly address her: “Would you like to dance with me?” After some hesitation, she responds: “No, thank you, I too am here with company.”
Now I wish the ground would open up, so I could quickly and quietly sink deep into the earth. But such a convenient exit from my predicament is not available, and so I turn to the third young woman at the table: “May I ask you for a dance?” “Yes, of course, I would love to!”
This most memorable event in my life occurred almost half a century ago. Since that time I got married and now have three grown children and five grandchildren. And I live in Heaven in wondrous Rappahannock County, together with Rita, who is not only my beautiful wife but also my best friend, companion, lover, and – last but not least – the sounding board for my silly stories.
Oh, I think it’s important to add (just in case you haven’t guessed by now) that Rita was the third young lady I asked for a dance at the Waldorf Astoria. Divine Providence? Some may want to call it that, but to me it appears just like plain, random Fate.