"I’m so happy for you."
She says it with a smile, and no one else would recognize any lack of sincerity in her words. But I know her very well, and I know that slight twitch at the corner of her mouth. That small trembling of her lip signifies that there is more to her inner feelings than what she expresses. There is no way that she is completely happy for this couple.
Everyone claps and cheers and clinks their glasses together, toasting to life and love and future joyous occasions. She joins in, but I see that, as soon as she can, she inconspicuously slips out to the ladies room to “powder her nose.” Not one member of the overwhelming crowd seems to consciously take note of her absence. I do though, and I highly doubt that she’ll choose to rejoin the festivities. More likely the cameras will soon pick up the image of a slight figure in red silk slipping through the back exit. Its not a cowardly escape. Its just a well-meant attempt not to detract from anyone else’s happiness with personal inner pain.
I know how she feels.
I sip my drink and lean my back against one of the stone columns. I am in the shadows where no one can see me surveying the scene. I like to keep out of the spotlight. The gold and crystal chandeliers above seem to glimmer even more as people begin to spill onto the dance floor. Its an upscale event so all the dancing is upscale as well. All the couples begin to waltz. I take another sip of my drink.
When I was nine, my mother forced me to take ballroom dancing lessons. While other kids raced outside to play baseball and other dusty, sweaty, manly sorts of sports, I got to foxtrot in tight pants and a glittery vest. It was only at the age of fourteen that I finally gained enough of an adolescent backbone to refuse the dancing direction.
In these later years I have come to appreciate those lessons. Its always a pleasant surprise when I take a date dancing and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I whip out my Samba skills. It never fails to give me that intriguing air of mystery and romance. Its like a lick of honey, a whiff of love’s finest scent. The tiniest of tastes.
But tonight I’m just going to remain in the shadows, watching the figures step and swing. I will drain the last dregs of my drink and, as I do, I will keep thinking about that woman with the dark hair, ruby lips, and slightly quivering smile.