Ruby's Partners

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write about someone grappling with an insecurity.... view prompt



Ruby never thought she would love dancing, but she was going to the dance studios, nightclubs, and restaurants more and more. She was going out three or four times a week now. The dancing was Latin and very physical. That was no problem because she worked out and was in good shape. But moving her body to the music while counting the beats and working with a partner — all this was new to her, and she sometimes felt inadequate. 

Ruby wanted to meet someone, too, but thinking about that made her sad because her relationships always seemed to tank. But just focusing on the dancing made her feel a bit more in control because she noticed many singles went dancing and while some became couples, others did not — and neither type was better or worse than the other. In fact, even if you were part of a couple, when you got to the club, you danced more often with other people and not so much with your own life partner. 

One night, after she had been dancing only a couple months, she met Brad. He would dance all night, as often as he could, with as many women as he could. He must have gone dancing every night of the week, since it seemed he was in every dance place she went to. Brad asked her to dance, and she felt excited, happy, scared, nervous. 

He seemed to have such a joy about dancing and did lots of moves that she had not seen anyone else doing. Not the fancy “advanced” moves of the really skilled dancers. These moves were just “Brad moves.” He made them up as he went along. Even when he got a little crazy, they danced in perfect sync with the music — both its rhythms and its mood. What surprised her most was that even though she was still a beginner, Brad got her to dance all his moves, even though she didn’t know what he was doing, he got her to follow him in such a way that their bodies perfectly expressed the music together. 

Whenever she saw Brad at the clubs, she began hanging out nearby so that he would see her and ask her to dance, which he did often. Did Brad like her? She was liking him more and more. She wondered more about what it would mean to get to know Brad better. 

He was willing to dance with her quite a lot, but not exclusively. And he always came back to her sooner or later. He would always dance with her. She knew that much, and it gave her some comfort. Still, she would think about him, fantasizing that they were eating out, walking through a park, shopping, going to a show — what would it be like to be his girlfriend? 

She became almost obsessive about him. On Sundays, there was a club that people went to in the afternoon. But on this Sunday, another place was opening for the first time that night. Ruby lived closer to both these clubs than Brad. So, on the pretext of making his day easier, she asked him if he would like to come over and use her shower. Her emotions had built up over the weeks so that rather than ask him personal questions, like “What do you do for a living?” or “What types of movies do you like?” she had let her emotions build to a boil and burst out with this offer, “Would you like to come over and use my shower?” She hated herself as soon as she said it. She had gone crazy. Thank God that Brad thought about the question for a moment, said, “No, thank you,” and then, “But I’ll see you at the club later.” He was relaxed and non-judgmental. Ruby told him, “Okay,” but she felt she had humiliated herself and couldn’t bear seeing him after what she had done, so she never went to the club that night. 

As Ruby continued running into Brad at the clubs, she found that he treated her and danced with her just as before. He looked at her as he always did. It was as if she had never invited him to her shower. She was relieved. It was fun to dance with him, and he made her look good on the dance floor. 

Looking good on the dance floor must have caught Carlos’ attention. Carlos, one of the “really talented” dancers, never seemed to notice her, but now wanted to dance with her. They hit it off right away — both as they danced, but also in the conversation they had while dancing. This was new for her since Brad spoke very little, neither on nor off the dance floor. So, this was nice to be both dancing and talking with Carlos. Except it was not too long into their first conversation that Carlos said, about Brad, “That guy you were dancing with… he’s not that good a dancer. He does almost everything wrong. I’m not sure why anyone bothers dancing with him.” This shocked Ruby and left her speechless. Then Carlos began teaching her what was wrong with her own dancing. She tried to be agreeable and even learned a few things, but felt like his sharp words about Brad had hurt her, too. 

After a while, she and Carlos took a break from one another. She found Brad and danced with him. She could barely help herself, but she told Brad what Carlos had said about his dancing. Brad smiled and chuckled, “Oh, really?” And they kept dancing the same as they always had. 

Ruby started hanging out with Carlos, dating Carlos. The first time she saw Carlos using her shower, she wondered what it would have been like if Brad were in her shower rather than Carlos. She liked Carlos, though she wasn’t sure why. It might have been because Carlos liked Carlos. Maybe she just wanted Carlos because she wanted a boyfriend. 

Carlos was a great dancer. Lots of people said so. Even Carlos said so. And she could understand that he was a better dancer than Brad was. But whenever she saw Brad, she wanted to dance with him. Even though she and Carlos were a couple, dance etiquette was that you go to a club and dance with everyone else, so it was not strange that she and Carlos only shared a couple of dances. Carlos would then work the room and dance with all the ladies he could — but only the most talented ladies. His reputation had to remain intact. 

Ruby danced with Brad, and she would have danced only with Brad if he were willing. She was happy that Brad never judged her and, even though he didn’t dance every dance with her, he danced with her a lot and even more than he danced with other women. 

Ruby was happy for these nice nights out — dancing, enjoying good music, meeting interesting people. Ruby was happy she could dance with Brad. And Ruby was happy she had a boyfriend. 

Ruby was sad that her boyfriend and the man she loved dancing with were not the same person. 

October 09, 2021 03:58

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