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At the Waldorf Astoria

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.