When my Dad moved from Birch Creek to the Alois Alzheimer Center in Cincinnati in 1991, we started getting more frequent visits from Steve, Peter, and Vicki than we’d ever had before or since. Vicki and Peter both came together on one such occasion, and we spent a lot time together at the Alois Center for several days. These were bittersweet occasions. My dad, absent of many memories, remained full of energy and his own unique eccentricity, so we had some fun. At the same time we felt a lot of sadness, for him as well as for ourselves. We stayed till closing time on a Friday night, then decided to go out to a bar and take a break from these emotionally draining matters. Katja and I never go to bars, so I didn’t have any favorites to suggest. We’d passed a place called the Briarwood on our way out, so we decided to go back there.
A sign in the window said it was “Talent Night” at the Briarwood, and the bar was probably half full when we got there. A three-piece band was playing old standards, and a few people were dancing. We asked the waitress about talent night, and she said it would start in about ninety minutes. She said people could do anything they wanted: sing, dance, tell jokes, etc. You had to pay ten dollars to enter, and there was a fifty dollar first prize. We decided that just by chance we’d picked a fun night to be there.
After we’d had one beer, Vicki felt like dancing. I’m not much of a dancer, but I knew that Peter was pretty good. I suggested he would be the best partner. Peter, however, was not enthusiastic. I claimed we ought to do that for our sister since she’d come all the way from California. Peter replied, “I am not dancing with my own sister! You dance with her if you think it’s that important.” I didn’t have so much reluctance about dancing with my sister as I did about dancing in public at all. We bandied back and forth in a sarcastic brotherly way for a while. Finally I proposed that the fairest solution would be if we took turns dancing with Vicki. I said that, as a matter of good faith, I would go first. Peter, much to my surprise, agreed. On the next number Vicki and I got out on the dance floor. People were doing no-touch, free-style dancing, with nobody doing any sort of conventional style as far as I could tell. Vicki loves that and really got into it. I worked at moving my feet to the music, waving my arms back and forth, bobbing my head, etc. We didn’t look any worse than anyone else, and it was actually fun. When the song ended, we went back to our table and Peter said we looked good. “Well, it’s your turn,” I said. Peter said, “Oh no – no way. I’m not dancing with my sister.” He laughed impudently, and I realized that he’d been planning that the whole time. I protested and insisted that he live up to our contract, but it was to no avail. I should have reminded myself that my brother was the consummate practical joker.
The bartender reminded everyone that Talent Night would begin in half an hour, and he encouraged people to sign up. We’d had a couple of beers by then, and Vicki got the inspired idea that the three of us should be in the competition. I asked what she had in mind. Vicki said we could be a dance group called Vicki and Her Brothers. She would be the lead, and Peter and I would be her backup dancers. Vicki demonstrated. All Peter and I would have to do was stand behind her, sway back and forth, and move our hands from side to side with the music. Vicki, in the meantime, would do an interpretive dance of the sort that you might see at a Santa Cruz after hours club. Peter was reluctant, but I’d had enough beer that I became insistent. Given all that sibling pressure he finally caved in. We gave the bartender our ten dollars and “Vicki and Her Brothers” were added to the program. We were scheduled to go on third.
We went out to the lobby, where nobody could see us and Vicki showed us how to do our routine. After a few miscues, Peter and I got better – well-synchronized and flowing with the music. Vicki, standing out in front of us, was a definite headliner. By the time we got back to our table, the competition had begun, and a redhead with a nice voice was doing a vocal. She was o.k., but she wasn’t as good as us. Then, as the second person got up to perform, Peter suddenly said, “I don’t feel well. I’m not staying. You can do this by yourselves.” Peter didn’t seem angry about it, but he was adamant. He simply stood up and walked out of the bar. Vicki and I looked at one another briefly, then we followed him out. Frankly, I didn’t like forfeiting our ten dollar entrance fee, but I was just as happy to not be performing. Vicki, accustomed to rebellious behavior on the part of her brothers, was mildly amused. We had a good laugh on the way home. I do sort of miss having not tried out our family performance. Who knows, there might even have been a talent scout there. Well, such is life.
Linda C (11-8): I love this story.
Kiera O, via Terry O.S. (11-8): This is absolutely wonderful...please convey to David how much I enjoyed it. Loved the story about David and Vicki and PEter at the dancing bar...p.s. I think when I saw it was entitled "Letters to George" that it might be a collection of tributes to George written at the time of his death. That's why I anticipated it might be a very emotional experience to read. On the contrary, this is the best testament imaginable....continuing the tradition of George's flare for life and celebration. David's writing is delicious, I think!
Donna D (11-10): love it!