Dancing in the Basement

Today is January 25, reminding me of how my folks

honored their anniversary.

Because my parents vacationed in July they

celebrated their July 25 wedding six months later

so they could have dinner at a swank restaurant,

and take in a tired business man’s Broadway show.

My folks were a reliable team with an endearing bond,

never heard a whisper of discontent slogging through

the depression years.

Father trod to work like a dutiful mule, running for a bus,

squeezing into a subway swaying with commuters.

Mother cared for three kids, shopped, cooked,

kept all our clothes scrubbed washboard clean.

They never complained; two weeks a year, their only vacation,

routinely camping at Rudd Pond, inviting every stray relative

to be their guest,- and they came in droves, sharing less than

luxurious accommodations,- army tents on splintery wood platforms

built by the men of the CCC.

Meals were cooked on an open fire, lots of hotdogs and beans

with an occasional Pickerel, Bass or small, bony Sunny caught

in the lake before the guests were awake.

Watching them dance in the finished basement embarrassed me so

I think it’s why I never learned how to fox-trot, waltz or tango.

Mom would take off her corset, put on her flying beads;

they’d roll up the rug, put the sin back in syncopation,

Flappers getting down and dirty doing the Charleston

and Black Bottom, knocking knees, crossing hands, listening

to “Doing the Raccoon,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” and “Yes Sir

That’s My Baby Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe.”

Eventually, after too many Sunday nights watching Ed Sullivan,

glomping down pints of pistachio ice cream in lazy boy chairs,

obesity and arthritis took their toll; I could hear them giggling in bed

taking turns expelling gas, flatulent troubadours whose Flapper days

were over.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie Street Leonia, N.J. 07605