10:58:51 am on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

My Music Box Dancer
AJ Robinson

As a father, I've had many proud moments in my life. The first time I held my daughter. Watching as she took her first step. Her joy at getting a dog, named Shakespeare, and her strength at letting him go when his time came. The singular joy and honor I felt at walking her down the aisle at her wedding.

One memory burns in my mind.

Yet, there's also another very special memory that burns bright in my mind. Alexa, my daughter, was in kindergarten. The annual school talent show was coming up. Many of the kids got together, in groups, to do little numbers of their own; singing, dancing, and so on. A bunch of the littlest kids, led by their teachers, performed a dance routine set to the song “YMCA.”

It was cute. There was also this tiny little girl, with a big floppy hat, that sang “Second Hand Rose.” Oh, she was adorable!

Then there was Alexa. She had her own little routine all worked out. When I say she had her “own” routine, I mean it was literally hers. She’d been taking dance for some time and so she came up with a full dance set to the tune of “Music Box Dancer.”

We got her a little six-sided box to stand on, her mom helped her with a cute dance costume and she rehearsed the whole thing on her own. I’ll be honest; I was a little worried about her doing the dance in front of a huge crowd without first trying it on a smaller group. Would she get nervous? Would she forget the routine in the middle of her dance? Could she keep in time with the music? Jo Ann, my wife, her mother, and I sat in the audience that night and waited for her turn.

The curtains parted.

There she was atop her fancy little box in her cute outfit. She just gazed straight ahead at the full auditorium.

The music started. There was as slight pause and then she went into her dance. Moving and bopping about, she spun and danced on the box. Then she moved down the steps on the back and danced around it.

It was quite the elaborate routine and all of her creation. She hadn’t asked her mom or her dance teacher for any help. The music continued to play, the parents and teachers sat in rapt attention and she kept dancing. I smiled. Never had I been so proud of her.

Yet, I still held my breath. There was the matter of the finale. Could she time it perfectly to make her finish just right?

I knew the song fairly well, so I had a good idea as to how much time she had left. Alexa moved around the box heading for the steps. Up she went to the top. She danced around a bit more, the music neared its conclusion and the two elements came together in perfect harmony. She was back in her original pose as when she started, and the music had ended. Everyone burst into applause.

Alexa had done it.

Her first original composition as a choreographer and dancer and it was spectacular. I sat that, froze in place. Never in my life had I felt such pride and joy. The thing was, it was only just the start of her life; she has done so much more since then. Yet, to this day, the memory of that night, seeing her perform her own little routine, is one of the special memories that stays with me.

Odd isn’t it, the little pieces to our lives we carry with us? There are still times, especially when I’m down or sad about something difficult in my life that I merely have to think back to that night and recall her performance, and I smile.

Thanks, sweetie, you gave your old Papi many little memories like that.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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