HampoLand

rainbow

Posts Tagged ‘Arlington Resort Ball Room’

Make Him Dance, Damn It

Tonight my husband, Alex, and I took our youngest son, Sandor, who is handsome and sixteen and his girlfriend, Haley, downtown for Halloween.

Alex and I hung out in the lobby of a grand old hotel, The Arlington, while they explored our historic district. The Arlington was built in the 1920s and is extravagant, tacky, magnificent, beautiful and historic. Everything about the Arlington screams “Great Gatsby,”. I love this place.

There was a redneck looking guy (seriously wearing overalls and camo) with a guitar on the stage. He really didn’t match the soaring ceilings and exquisite architecture. But he was good, especially when singing Bob Seager.

When Haley and Sandor showed back up and sat down at our table, we talked about the history of the Arlington and watched the trick or treaters who wandered in and out, in costume.

Then redneck dude on stage played Stand By Me. Haley and Sandor immediately moved to the dance floor. He’s tall and she’s short and they looked adorable slow dancing. She clung to his purple and gray letterman jacket and they both had love sick expressions. It was beautiful and silly.

I grabbed Alex’s hand, “Come on, we’re dancing.”

“No, I don’t want to dance.”

“I Don’t care Alex, come on sweetie. Please?”

“Fine,” he mumbled but he was obviously miserable and half pissed.

For two or three minutes Alex and I clung to one another. He almost smiled. I was truly happy. Then the song ended.

The truth is, I’m worried about my husband. I don’t know if he feels joy anymore and I don’t know if he enjoys living. But I want him to stay here with me, for a while anyway. Because I love him. And we’ve been together for more than 25 years.

I’m terrified, but I’m going to keep dragging him into weird situations and forcing him to slow dance with me….because I don’t want to be alone, in this world, without him. And he’s a really good dancer.

I have a theory. If you want to be happy, no matter how old you are, you have to actively take part in life. Choose to dance. Make a decision to stop watching this world and the people in it, then dance….jump in…and try to be a part of the magic swirling around us all. It’s the only chance we have.

Louella and The Hot Springs Debutante Ball …It’s Historic

arlingtonI was, without a doubt, the world’s worst debutante in Hot Springs Arkansas history.  Thinking about it makes me grimace a little now.

I was invited to be a debutante because my mother was one and my family constantly hosted parties for girls.  But the timing was terrible and my mom, Ann Stell McDaniel, always wanted to make a point. Her grandstanding and gift for theatrics was the only good thing to come out of my debutante season.

I didn’t want to be a debutante but my mom said I had to do it, for my grandmothers.  I was in college in upstate New York at the time. So mom told me to go shopping alone in Ottawa, Canada. I didn’t know what the hell kind of white gown to buy. I ended up getting a silky mermaid/Grecian toga gown rather than a great big poofy antebellum wedding dress.

The other girls looked virginal, I looked like a lounge singer.

My father had died the year before, so my brother, Granger, was supposed be be my escort.  Unfortunately, Granger was wanted for questioning by the FBI at the time. They wanted to visit with him about a boat load of something that left the Island of Belize. So, Granger was a little tense at the time and
Here’s the great part of the story, though.  When we gave the debutante committee a list of those we wanted invited to the Ball we included Louella Thomas (who had raised me) and Iolla Jacobs. Both women had been part of our family for more than thirty years. Mom and I wanted them there. The committee did not. We were asked us to reconsider. Apparently African Americans had never been invited to The Ball. mom was kind of annoyed.  Still Grang and I made it through the dance lessons and cotillion. He kept a bottle in the car and made me drive him around all week.

Ann Stell was in her element, a justified, righteous war. With seething eloquence she told them Louella and Iolla would be sitting right  next to her at The Ball.  And  when I presented her with a red rose she wanted me to give one to Louella too. They didn’t’ like that at all but had to relent. They knew my mother was brilliant and noisy.

Louella and I went shopping for her white dress together.  Mom wanted it to match her own.  I remember being in awe of the contrast between Louella’s beautiful ebony skin and the creamy fabric. We laughed and giggled and she called me “Her Miss Pooh”. At the time she seemed ancient but I realize now she was probably only sixty five or seventy  years old.

The night of the ball Louella and Iolla sat next to my mom in the Arlington Ball Room. Granger looked beautiful and I took his arm. He walked me across the room and I presented my mother and Louella each with a red rose. Louella was crying, mom was smiling.

After the Ball there was  a party. I caught up with Iolla and Louella as they were leaving. Two beautiful black ladies in an ocean of white and red.

“Hey, you can’t leave yet.  You have to stay and dance.” I said innocently, sincerely and stupidly.

Louella just  smiled and hugged me.  “Find your brother to walk us to the car,Baby Girl, I think we’ve done enough for one night.”