"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Miss Dee






This, then, is a tribute to you, Miss Dee, wherever you are now. Miss Dee was a Jew, some people around town called her a Kike. Whatever, she was dark haired and beautiful and graceful, and every little girl in her dance classes loved her immensely. We all wanted to be just like her. Wherever she came from, suddenly she was here, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, to teach us how to be beautiful and graceful. We were like a flock of little brown birds in the presence of a Phoenix. Her real name was Mrs. Kahn. What was the "D" for? Delilah? Daphane? Diana? Deborah? I can't remember, but it must have stood for something more radiant and grand than our names: Norma, and Jackie, Virginia and Leonie, and Joyce.

There, in her little studio with its music, and barre, and mirrors, in the middle of all that dry sagebrush and sand, she taught us Acrobatics, Ballet, and Tap dancing. In our spare time after school we all practiced doing splits, and backbends and frontovers and cartwheels. We practiced tapdancing in our bare feet, in the sand. (Here I must tell you that my friend Leonie Kinikin also had a pair of ice skates, and we also used to ice skate in the sand! -- Our regular skating, with the skates clamped onto our shoes and fastened with a skate key was done on a big cement slab by Flossie's Variety Store).

Once or twice a year Miss Dee gave a recital, and our parents were invited to watch us perform. In Wisteria we were supposed to be a kind of lovely lavender flowers I had never seen. We were White Clouds drifting in a blue sky, we tapped out patriotic rhythms in sparkling Red, White, and Blue. Leonie and Norma danced Sunset and Night, where Leonie's beautiful many-colored costume was at the end, covered in Norma's black cloak. Oh, I can't begin to tell you how I envied Leonie's beautiful, filmy, pink and gold and scarlet colored dress, as Joseph's brothers must have envied and coveted his coat of many colors! I would have thrown her into a pit for that dress. I would have sold her into Egypt.

You see, Miss Dee, I remember this, even now! And though I know you will never see this, I want to tell you, Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing your grace and your talents with some little girls a long time ago in the middle of a great desert. You were an oasis in a wilderness.

3 comments:

slickdpdx said...

Great post!

sas said...

Oh I know "Miss Dee", a different time, a different drummer, a different barre....what a beautiful tribute to her, to your youth, to art, to that moment in time when we were the little engines that could...the swans on the lake...the fearless...
Thank you, "Miss De"

Ron Hudson said...

I am looking for a place to make contact with you. I found your comment on my blog. Now I am intrigued about your writing and stories and dreams. This one seemed appropriate as a vehicle for getting to know one another as my mom once had a Jewish friend. I met her independently with my meeting coming some odd 40 years later when she was a pharmacist who filled my prescriptions by pure happenstance and commented on my accent. She recognized it from her childhood. Within minutes, we had made the connection to my mother. She has since passed on, but left a wonderful legacy of friends, family, and stories.

About Me

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.