Charles & Claire Ch. 06bySchuppinzigh©
Jimmy told us, that during the next week, we'd still be working on the Tango and Cha-Cha. Claire and I only needed to refine our steps and learn a few more... must keep Jimmy satisfied.
I'd just woken up, and it was the Sunday morning after the Summer Memories Dance. I decided to lay back down as the details of last night were still coursing through my head...
The gym was decorated in yellows, reds and blues; streamers were everywhere. Mom took Brian and me to pick up Claire and Susan from the McArthurs. The gym sure was loud. My mother was staying as a chaperone, keeping an eye on all the kids. I felt her eyes on Claire, and me most of the evening.
The dance floor they put on top of the basketball court was huge. The International Dance Panic Signal would be used a lot. I'd reminded Brian of it. The only dancing I wasn't prepared for was when a Rock and Roll song came along. Claire helped me 'get my groove on' as she called it.
When 'Kiss from a Rose' by Seal, came on, I took Claire out like we were at a competition, she gave me a kiss - we started our Waltz, moving and making a bigger circle as we went. The other kids were moving back, giving us the room we needed to show off, and quickly; we had all eyes on us. They were all swaying to the music.
My eyes were locked on Claire throughout the entire song, even though I knew all the kids had stopped to watch us. I taught her the Natural Spin Turn... five minutes before we left for the dance. That move had all the kids going, saying 'look at that', and 'they're good', and my favorite, 'who's that dancing with Claire?'" We used the whole area the kids made for us, trying a new side-by-side step we'd barely covered a few days before. I put up my hand, and we finished alongside the song -- timing it perfectly.
The whole auditorium broke into applause. Man, that feels so good, for people to appreciate what you've worked to learn.
All the other boys came up to me, patting my back. This was at Claire's school - Presidents Elementary. All of her girlfriends came up to her, wanting to find out who I was, and where she learned to dance like that.
Seeing my Mom out of the corner of my eye, I knew Claire might be ready to land one on me, and in front of everybody.
I took her from the flock of girls who had surrounded her, and escorted her to the ante hall of the auditorium, my mother slowly following us. I looked over at her and nodded. She nodded back with two fingers up.
Claire wouldn't be stopped any longer, and I welcomed it. She grabbed me and kissed me, a very soft and loving kiss. I responded by kissing her. I kept my hands on her hips the whole time. She'd put her hands in my coat pockets. She pulled from me and said, "Oh - my - goodness, Charles. Wasn't that amazing? The way that everyone stopped dancing, making room for us and watched."
"I—I love you, Charles," she said.
There's that truly magnificent smile again.
"I know how you feel, Claire. While we were dancing, nothing else mattered in the world to me. I heard the music and all I saw was my, true love -- You!"
This time, I initiated the kiss. I heard the door open and my mother beckoned us back in, saying, "You two have got to start entering dance contests!" She came up to me and told Claire to 'clean me up.'
Claire smiled at my Mom and said, "Thanks Annie; I feel so wonderful when I'm dancing with this handsome son of yours. All I see is him, all I hear is music, and all I feel is..."
"Be... really careful about expressing how you two feel for one another, especially when you're around others. I... have kind of gotten used to it. Sarah is - getting there, but around school friends, and especially, other adults... be very cautious."
"Let's get something to drink, OK, beautiful girl?"
"Whatever you want, X. Thanks, Annie. I'm beginning to see you as much as I see my own Mother," my date said.
The rest of the evening went quite well. We'd danced most every dance together. I danced once with Susan; however, Brian, while dancing with Claire, hovered near Susan and me, making sure nothing 'happened' between us.
I'm so taken by Claire, that the notion of meeting and/or being around any other girl, is the farthest thing from my mind...
The phone ringing shook me out of my memory of the evening. I picked up my phone, "Hello, Claire."
"How'd you know it was me, Charles?"
"I'd been thinking about you, about the dance last night. I was getting ready to call you, to find out when you wanted to practice again," I said, with my heart hoping for it to be soon.
She replied, "You read my mind, all right. The last time was at my place. Let me find out who can take me to you?"
She'd put down the phone. 'Take me to you', she said. What am I supposed to do? I love her. However, I'm thirteen. Oh crap! Crap, crap, crap. Just have patience, Charles - She's only 'illegal' for five more years.
"I can be there in about half an hour, is that OK, Charles?"
"Si, fino a quando ci incontriamo di nuovo, Clara" (Certainly, until we meet again).
"Ti Amo. Carlo."
About twenty-five minutes later, there was a honk. Mom said, "I wonder who that could be?"
In one big long breath I said, "That's Claire. She called me and asked what time to come over and practice. I'm sorry Mom - I was upstairs thinking about... the dances and never came to tell you. I'm really sorry."
I walked outside and saw Josiah driving away, and saw Claire walking up to the front porch, "Miss me, X?"
"Every minute, of every day, pretty girl."
"Oh, brother," mom said, interrupting us, "Sometimes you two sound like you just left a romance novel."
With that, I said, in a quite clumsy Antonio Banderas accent, "Alas, my beloved Clarisima—I was counting the minutes, until we could see each other again."
Claire giggled and responded with, "My beloved Charles, my heart stops beating whenever I don't see you; come - feel my heart beating, deep inside me."
Mom just stood there, shaking her head, and said, "Charles... aren't you going to bring Claire inside?"
As I walked by her, I hugged her and said, "Best Mom, ever."
That got Claire's hackles up. She leaned into me and gave me a very little kiss, and said, "Remember?"
My Mom asked, "Remember what, Charles?"
"I don't have a clue, Mom? Sometimes... I just don't get you girls at all."
That got me a slap from my Mom on the shoulder and a love tap on the back of my head from Claire.
"Hey, No fair - I've been double-teamed."
They both broke up and laughed. Claire grabbed my arm and walked to the middle of the living room. "What're we practicing, X?"
"First, I want to learn a few new Quickstep moves. The Forward Lock and The Natural Turns. Let's go over them first without any music."
I covered both steps, along with the transitions from one to the other, then put on 'Little Brown Jug,' the Glenn Miller version, and we danced. Once again, it went quite well.
When the song was over, my Mom came out of the kitchen saying, "I found a 'Junior I' dance competition. It's about two hours away, by car. It's sanctioned by the NDCA, the National Dance Council of America. You'll need to be registered to dance in the Amateur Competitions, but you can register the day of it."
The shrieker returned. Claire gave me a hug and said to me, "Could we, Charles? Are we good enough? What do we dance? What do we wear? Oh, my god, Charles... a Competition!"
Mom answered, "Its twenty bucks per person, what you wear at Cotillion is just fine; Charles could wear his coat. Of course, you two are good enough. Claire, call your Mother about this. It's in two days. It's an area event... top three in each class gets trophies."
"We can find out just how good we are, Claire." I turned to her and she'd already, run to the phone. I couldn't hear her, but I watched her on the phone. It was quite the sight. I could tell when she was explaining, I could tell when she was trying to make her point, and then it happened.
"Yaaaayyyy -- Charles! My Mom says it's all right. Annie, please?" She's asking permission to give me one right on the lips.
Chuckling, Mom said, "All right," and turned away, putting one finger up. Claire was so excited she put her hands on either side of my face and pulled me towards her, and the kiss was started.
Boy, I think I'm the only person she's kissing, but I'd swear that she's getting better at it, at an alarming pace. My mother turned back towards us, just as Claire was cleaning off my lips with her finger.
"Besides registering for the competition, you must both become members of the NDCA, which you can do online. It costs twenty dollars for a years membership," my Mother mentioned. "I think you're very good and should do really well, but I suggest you practice the traditional ballroom; Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango and Cha-Cha. You must provide your own music, with or without vocals, and no longer than three and one-half minutes long."
Claire and I turned toward each other and said, "Waltz," at the same time. That made both my Mom and Claire giggle. I may have also.
"MUSIC," I yelled. "We have to pick out our music first. I'm going through this entire collection. Claire, you look through the music on your phone. You may have something that works."
"OK, X. Thank you Annie for telling us about the dance competition," Claire said stopping to give her a hug.
"I found it, the perfect song for us; 'My Cup Runneth Over With Love', by Elvis. I never knew he'd recorded it. Let's listen to see if it's slow enough." The music started,
"Sometimes in the morning, when shadows are deep
I lie here beside you, just watching you sleep,
And sometimes I whisper what I'm thinking of:
My cup runneth over with love."
There were eight measures of only the orchestra between verses.
We both loved this song. Then we listened again, timing it, to see how long it went. It was just under three minutes - Perfect.
"Mom, should we learn a routine, or just wing it?" I asked, a bit unsure of myself.
"Charles, I'd suggest a routine, but do whatever works for you. Don't over-think it? You both love to dance, you both love each other - so just dance."
Claire and I couldn't believe what my Mother just said in front of us. Claire was blushing profusely, and I went up to my mother and said, "You go to your room. You're grounded for one hour, and then we expect you to come down here and apologize - OK, young lady?"
Mom had such a surprised look on her face... she must've suddenly realized what she'd said, because she started to respond to what I'd said, but I shooed her off. She was, however, giggling as she left.
We'd worked on the Waltz, starting with the steps we knew, adding in the Whisk and the Promenade Chasse; then we went from one to the other, adding back all the other turns we previously learned.
Following that, I added the Hesitation Change, a rather slick step that involves changing the weight from your leading foot to your trailing foot... difficult, but Claire and I had it down after only a few tries.
There was a sound behind us. It was my Mom, sporting a huge grin, and she said, "I'm sorry, you guys. It's so easy to see what you two mean to one another. I can't promise I'll never cry when you dance, but I'll try not to let my mouth write a check my butt can't cash. I'll spend my next year helping you get into competitions, and driving you wherever you need to go. All right, kids?"
"OK, Annie," Claire said, with a little giggle.
"All right, Mom... but don't let it happen again! Or, I'll sick my father on you."
"No, no - Anything but that," mom responded, rather over-dramatically. "I saw the steps you've added. They look wonderful. You've picked a song; I suggest a backup song, in case someone else has it that performs before you. There's no way of knowing when you perform; first, last or somewhere in the middle. You may get lucky and be first, just because you'll be registering at the last minute, and they may decide that first out is the weakest position. Your first dance in your first competition, may cause the song you dance to, to become 'your song.'"
"One more step I want to add, before we start working up a routine, Claire," I announced.
"Sure, Charles... I'm putty in your hands. Oooh. Sorry Annie. He's just so good at teaching dance. I could learn anything from Charles." Claire's cheeks reddened up and looked over at Annie and mouthed 'Sorry.'"
Mom broke the tension by asking, "What is the step called, Charles?"
"The Reverse Corte - Let me show you, Claire."
I proceeded to show and teach Claire the step. It was tricky enough, that it took a half-hour to get down.
"Claire," mom asked, "When are you expected home?"
"My Mom knows we're in training for the dance contest. She told me I could stay as long as I wasn't 'getting in the way,' I think was how she put it," Claire said with a giggle.
"Why don't you two take a break - we'll have lunch, and then we'll take back up after that? Will I need to get you home, dear?"
"Thank you, that would be wonderful, Annie," Claire said.
"Pick out a back-up musical number, Charles, while Claire and I make pizza."
"Oh," said Claire, giggling and getting up to go into the kitchen.
"I'm staying far away this time," I said, "I don't have time to get in trouble again, with a competition coming up."
Claire had turned to my Mom and said, "Isn't he just the cutest thing, when he gets all flustered?"
Mom responded, "You're absolutely right Claire. Cute as a button."
Hearing giggles from the kitchen worried me a little, but all things considered, today was going pretty well. I was having a problem finding just the 'right song' for our back-up dance.
I'd see a CD and put it in and listen to about four or five seconds of each song. I put in a CD of Elvis Presley's music that I didn't recognize. I played each song and cut five was it, 'Until it's Time for You to Go.'"
I heard Claire's voice from the kitchen, "That last one was very pretty, Charles."
"Not nearly as pretty as my girls, Claire and Annie...and Kalista," I yelled back.
"Now I'm getting second billing? I may take back my apology, Charles," mom said through the door.
Still looking, I replied, "You'll always be first in my heart, but Claire is first in my arms."
As soon as I said it, I realized how my Mom could've taken it. However, there was no screaming - nothing had been dropped. It got quiet?
Dare I turn around and look at them? Hmmm. I practically forced myself to turn towards them. I saw Claire had opened the door, and was looking up to my Mom, and they were both crying.
My Mom put her hand on Claire's shoulder, and she motioned at her to go to me. Claire walked slowly to me... I looked past her to my Mom, who motioned at me. We put our arms around each other, and we both sobbed.
Claire pulled off me and put her lips to mine. This kiss was different from any before it... it felt like a warm summer's evening, looking at the stars. I looked up... my mother was motioning to 'break it up.' Claire smiled at me, wiped my lips and went back into the kitchen.
Yep - I'm in love. And I got it bad!
We had lunch, and then we started choreographing 'My Cup Runneth Over.' Mom was a big help, since she knew what we could do. We had it roughed out in about forty-five minutes. Then we tackled 'Until It's Time For You to Go.'
Mom commented, "Charles; I think 'Until it's Time...' is the better song for the two of you... it's got some subtle changes of rhythm between the verse and chorus, letting you two flash some moves at the judges."
Claire chimed in, "I think so too, Charles. I like them both very much, but if what we dance, becomes 'Our Song,' I'd like 'Until It's Time...' to be it?"
"OK, then that's that. 'Cup' just became our back-up dance," I agreed.
We showed up at the hall where the NDCA event was being held. We'd registered as thirteen-year-olds. We told them our routine was a Waltz, and gave them our musical options. They said that others took both of our choices in our class. Mom asked, "Can you have live music, perhaps a piano playing?"
They said that'd be all right, but that would mandate, that we were first to dance. We all looked at each other and smiled. "It's a good thing I brought the 'Sunrise, Sunset' sheet music, kids."
"Get ready, you two. They have to get me a piano. Love you guys, Break a leg," she said to us.
"Love you, Annie," Claire said.
"Love you, Annie," I said. "Love you Claire."
"Don't worry, Claire. Just relax."
"I'm not worried, Charles... I'm 'in your arms.'"
"LADIES and GENTLEMEN. May I have your Attention please? Our first dancers of the Junior I competition, Claire McArthur and Charles Newman."
A smattering of polite applause permeated the hall. My mother started playing. We fell into 'position' and danced. I can't really explain, exactly what happened next.
We dance across the floor from one end to the other. Claire's hair bounced as we turned and danced and Whisked and Chassed and Reversed. It was like... I can't explain it. We were doing everything well, and the ending was coming. I took a quick glance to Mom, and we ended exactly... with the last note from the piano.
Applause... what a beautiful sound of people! They all stood up and applauded loudly. Some threw flowers on the floor. Claire and I, each picked one up, and waved back to the crowd. They wouldn't stop applauding.
The PA announcer thanked them and asked them to sit. There were eleven other competitors in our classification. Annie hugged Claire, and me after we went back to the 'Kiss and Cry Area.'
Mom said, "Guess what just became 'Your song,' kids? I'm so proud of you, whatever happens."
An hour later - there were announcements.
"In third place, are Chad Bright and Lindsey Shannell."
They came out to a strong applause.
"In second place, John Hamilton and Carol Miller."
A nice bit of applause.
"First place, in their first ever competition together, Charles Newman, and Claire McArthur. No doubt, we'll be seeing these two a lot in the future."
When the announcer started saying my name, there were cheers from the stands. Kids, adults, everybody stood up and yelled, screamed and shrieked. I brought out my Mom, who raised both of her hands and waved back to the crowd.
After the craziness of it all, and getting our trophy - some of the other kids came up to us, and told us how much they loved our routine. We got a lot of questions, 'Is this really your first competition?' and 'Are you a couple?' along with some heartfelt remarks about how well we interpreted the music.
On the two-hour drive home, Mom told us we needed a sponsor in the future. She recommended Jimmy Bradshaw. She also said that she found out that a lot of the Juniors have managers. I recommended that she should be our manager.
We made a deal in the car that when, and if, we ever start earning money dancing, Mom would get fifteen percent. I offered her twenty; she only asked for ten - we compromised.
Claire said that before our next competition, she was going to need to buy a couple of pairs of shoes. My Mom mentioned we could get a couple of 'matching outfits.' I saw that about half of the Junior I dancers had matching outfits. I thought complementary-colored outfits stood out more; case in point was that we won today with them.
"We won our first competition, Claire. I absolutely promise to you; I'll never, ever dance in a Competition without you." I got quiet and I said, "Ti Amo. Clara."
Claire responded, "I know, Charles."
"Daddy, this is my favorite part, when you first started really dancing with Aunt Kalista. Was she as cute as I was, when I was seven years old," Rose asked?