They stood in the corner of the room, twirlers for the marching band, dressed for the coming parade; tight black outfits with short skirts adorned with gold braid. A radio, tuned to WOWO in Ft. Wayne, was playing the top 50 for the week. Laughing and joking, they seemed oblivious to the music, but when At the Hop began to play, one of the girls began to dance as the others looked on. Disconnected from her surroundings, she became the music, insinuating her whole body into the music’s insistent beat. Head down slightly, arms bent at her side, she swivelled quickly back and forth in short arcs of increasing intensity. Her hair and her skirt blurred as they rose and fell with her turning. I found myself seduced, unable to take my eyes away. I may have stopped breathing. For certain, I was frozen in place. She was 17 and I but 14 but watching her move to the dance, I understood for the first time the meaning of carnal lust. My wide-eyed gape must have caught their attention because, as the music ended, she turned giggling to her friends, whispering. Looking my way, they laughed in response. Caught! Reddening, I turned away. I see her still when At the Hop begins to play.

We never escape our past. It hides in dark corners, a spectre which brushes our memory when we least expect it. A sight, or a sound, perhaps a smell, brings back a full-blown memory. Music does that. Various songs from the 50s evoke a range of emotion which leads me to ask – have you ever loved someone so much that it hurt? Of course you have. You remember how it feels. A chance encounter with the Drifters singing Save the Last Dance for Me brought back a rush of memory and vestiges of that old feeling. I loved her so much, I still do, as a matter of fact, but then all things were uncertain and I was terribly jealous of her. I hated it when someone paid attention to her or when she talked to someone else. A gut-wrenching, immobilizing jealously that left me wanting to reach out and envelop her in my arms, to make her mine – for the moment – forever. Of course, you think, she wouldn’t understand the intensity of your feeling, this self-centered love that drives reason from the scene, and so you remain silent. Even so, she knows. It is in the eyes and the set of the lips. Not quite a smile, nor yet is it a frown. The Mona Lisa in a blue sweater. You move across the floor with her, lost in the scent of her hair, the softness of her presence and, in the end, all you can do is to ask that she Save the Last Dance for Me.

On occasion, we have all wished we could stop time, to prolong an event outside of the normal rules. We can’t, of course, and time moves relentlessly on, leaving us with memories only. We dwell on those memories at times, those ghosts of the past, remembering the soft scent of perfume, the triumph of standing on water skis for the first time, of conversations with close friends whose comfortable intamacy insulates you from the world. It is, of course, the reason we take photographs; we try to cheat time by freezing it in frames of color. Often, as we look at those pictures, we wonder why they were taken. Who are these people and where are these places? But then you run across a picture and sights and sounds come rushing back. A neighbor girl who, at 10, was my first love. She never knew it, never realized just how much I enjoyed being in her company. She stares at the camera as she cradles her dog and she smiles. We eventually went our separate ways; I saw her last on the day I was married. She was sitting in the third pew. I was surprised to see her, but she was lost in the joy of the day and I don’t remember her coming through the receiving line. Looking at the picture now, I wonder what has become of her. Was time as good to her as it has been to me? It is unknowable and memories must suffice.