I remember watching her from across the dance floor.
Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed.
She had the biggest grin on her face and she was trying to get everyone around her to get up and dance- the dance floor was empty. It was a typical summer night in the small town in Italy, and I had no idea the image of my mother dancing like she had ants in her pants would remain with me for so long with such a positive imprint.
See, my mom is Italian – very Italian. But before you start to imagine a chubby, stubby woman holding a piece of bread chasing you around the house, know that my mother was a model with a vibrant personality and a spiritual glow, and that she’s absolutely beautiful.
So, back to the scissor kick. There she was, legs up in the air, laughing loudly and enjoying her party-of-one. She made so many people squirm in their seats – it was seriously uncomfortable. I got up, lurked through the darkness to where she was standing, and begged her to sit down.
“Why?” she asked, gasping for air.
“Because mom, no one wants to dance. You look stupid.”
“Who cares? I’m having fun, and the truth is… they want to be having fun too. And I don’t look stupid, I’m getting exercise.”
Before I could bury my head in shame, the guy next to her started bobbing his head. First slowly, then faster and faster. The faster his head bobbed, the wider his grin got. Before I knew it, the two of them had gotten the entire left quadrant of the crowd to bob their heads and well, you can guess the rest.
When I tell you she was the only one dancing, I am not exaggerating. She was laughing hysterically and wasn’t even drunk. She didn’t care about what anyone thought of her and she pushed through the awkward moment into beautiful glory and success; she had gotten the entire town to dance.
She’s still like that today; it baffles me. Everything she does makes sense. If she sends food back, she does it with a smile and a laugh with the waitress and she says, “Why should I eat that? It tastes like cardboard!” But you don’t get mad at her because it makes sense, and the waitress didn’t get mad at her because she was amazed.
When she does crazy things while driving (which send me into a panic) like being completely horizontal across four lanes to make a left turn, she yells at the cars behind her because they’re being impatient and there’s bumper to bumper traffic. It makes sense. When she gets in your face about eating organic, sitting up straight and giving up chocolate because it gives you migraines, it makes sense. I never listen, though.
All quirks aside, my mom is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She bends over backwards for everyone, she picks up your spirit when you’re sure you’ve hit rock bottom, and will always make things seem less serious than they really are (or you think they are). She will always greet you with a smile, a hug and often a couple of kisses on the cheek – no matter how long she’s known you. But make no mistake, piss her off and prepare for hell. It amazes me how she can radiate grace and strength at the same exact time.
My mom and I are very different women. I learned a lot from her and made some of it my own, while leaving the rest to her, to make her unique, to make her Mommy. She’s an indie chick to the core, making things herself, going for whatever she wants, no matter how she gets there. There are things I could only hope to grow into.
One things for sure- on the dance floor, you’d think I was auditioning to be a can can girl.