It was a gorgeous vision. After launching this web site, traffic would grow organically and rapidly, thereby exempting me from all the hard promotional work everyone says you have to do. This past Sunday, mourning the demise of my beautiful fantasy, my instinct was to burrow deeper under the covers. But the people I admire most don’t hunker down at home. They’re out in the streets taking risks, speaking truth to power and battling injustice. With this in mind I pried myself out of bed and headed out to Sunday Parkways. Destination: Water Tower Park in Milwaukie where my friend Norm was planning a surprise Dance Mob for his wife, Pauline. And just what is a Dance Mob? To be answered soon.
It took me an hour and a half by bus to get there and I was entertained part of the way by the delightful Polly who told me about her daughter. This young woman met a Frenchman in Vietnam. The two started seeing each other but when the daughter found herself working 18 hour days as a TV producer in Singapore, it created problems in the relationship. I didn’t catch what happened next but I know they ended up getting married in France.
Norm is a person with seemingly boundless energy, creativity and optimism. Over the years our friendship has been defined in part by variations of an ongoing conversation. I’m afraid (I hate to say “convinced”) that humanity will not see and make the necessary changes to human nature that are required to save us from the destruction we’re wreaking on ourselves and the planet. Norm, on the other hand, holds out hope. I’d like him to win the argument.
Pauline and Norm met at a party when she was 18 and he was 21. Apparently he has felt that he is not very adept at dancing. So for weeks without Pauline’s knowledge he took lessons to prepare for the dance mob. Both are volunteers for Bikes for Humanity, an all-volunteer organization that provides affordable, safe bikes to the public as well as free tune-up clinics, education and other services. Norm recruited several volunteer/friends to help him with the surprise. When I arrived at the park, I kept a low profile so my presence wouldn’t tip Pauline off that something was afoot. I amused myself by watching a young man named Gannet tool around on an electrified unicycle. I loved watching his smooth, fluid motion as he sped along, easily curving and winding around everything in his path.
Pauline arrived. The music started up. As they’d prearranged, a few volunteers asked Norm to dance. Suddenly he and about fifteen others were dancing a choreographed routine that was a joy to watch. Pauline was gobsmacked. The rest of us were riveted. Norm danced with flair and rhythm — I’d take him as a dance partner any day. It was so much fun to watch the expression on Pauline’s face. Afterwards, for pizza and beer, we went to Pietro’s where it appeared every child in Milwaukie was having a birthday party.
Sunday Highlights: Getting out of the house to forget about problems. Meeting my friend, Pam, and seeing everything going on at the last Sunday Parkways of the year. Being inspired by my two dear married friends who still love each other deeply after all these years. And watching Pauline’s face as Norm and co-conspirators danced like pros. I imagine she might have been thinking: “We’ve been married for 44 years and guess what? He’s still able to surprise me.”