Early in my consulting career, I did a few days work in East Texas each month. Every time I worked there, I seemed to come across something wonderful or something awful… nothing dangerous or horrible, just something uplifting or pitifully awful.
One afternoon after work, I agreed to have a drink with my liaison and her husband. We drove to a local dance hall, one of those huge old galvanized tin open-air halls dating from the early 20th century that are still active all over Texas. There were only a few other patrons, mostly at the bar on the far side of the vast dance floor. Country western music blared from the loudspeakers, but no one was dancing. It was a fine day, and the giant tin window flaps had been propped open to catch the breeze.
We ordered drinks and settled in to catch up. An older cowboy approached our table and asked me to dance. He was wiry and muscular, dressed up as if he was going on a date. He wore a big western straw hat, a pristine white snap shirt, ironed jeans and polished boots. I was intimidated by his handsome apparel, his boots in particular. I was still in my bedraggled suit that I had donned before dawn in Houston. I’m not a good dancer, and even if the song had been a ballad, I would have had to kick off my heels and dance in my stocking feet. I feared I would bungle the dance and cause him to step on my tender toes, and everyone would stare at us when I messed up, so I politely thanked him and turned him down.
He glared at me, sailed his big hat to the floor and danced around it. His thinning hair was turning white, but his steps were vigorous. I felt worse and worse as the song seemed to go on forever. I felt like he was sending me a message, perhaps that he was an excellent dancer and I should have trusted him not to mangle my toes. Or then again, maybe he had a bet with one of the fellows at the bar that he could get the uptight stranger from the city to let down her hair and have some fun and was pissed that he was losing the bet. Maybe he was so angry that he was calling down a curse on me from the dance hall gods.
The three of us clapped politely as he finished. He retrieved his hat, dusted it off with an angry swipe and returned to the bar. I half expected him to take a snarky bow, but he didn’t.
After much consideration, I classified the incident as something wonderful… I think?