I went to Zumba tonight at Curves and since it was cancelled I finally had a chance to talk to Gloria. She’s been a faithful Zumba dancer along with me since the beginning. She’s older, to put it mildly. She’s past senior citizen by at least a dozen years but she’s one of the best dancers. She never seems to get tired or give up. She doesn’t laugh either. Most of all, she talks with the confidence of a young person. She’s matter-of-fact. Direct. To the point.
I was on the step machine next to her when Margaret asked her in the sweetest tone you can imagine, “Gloria, what do you think of my scarf?”
“I don’t like it.”
“No, Gloria, what do you think of my scarf? The pin? The whole thing?”
“I don’t like it.”
“But GLORIA,” she stammered, “Touch it. Look! What do you think of it? Don’t you LIKE it?!”
“It’s not my kind of thing. I don’t want to touch it.”
“But I made it!”
“So what, does that mean I have to like it?”
Well, that was it for me. I instantly figured her out. She had to be from New York. It doesn’t matter how old she is I can spot a New Yorker from across the room with an answer like that.
“So, where are you from?” I asked her.
“What do you mean, where am I from?”
“Well, are you from here?”
“No. I’m from the East Coast.”
“From where? I pressed.”
“From New York. The Bronx.”
I knew it!
“I left in 1956,” she said.
“So what? I answered. “It never left you.”
“Why should it? I wouldn’t want it to.”
“Do you ever go back?”
“Not anymore. I don’t have anyone left over there. They’ve all passed.”
“Nope. Two dogs. A cat. A parakeet.”
“Were you ever married?” I asked.
“Oh, I had a couple of chances but I blew it.”
I considered that for a second and then I said, “I guess I’m kind of fatalistic but I think things happen for a reason. Do you think you made a mistake?”
“That’s not fatalistic. That’s realistic. I thank God I never got married!” she laughed. “What about you?” she countered. “You married?”
“Yep. Thirteen years.”
“Well then, how about you, you make a mistake?”
“Naw,” I smiled. “No mistakes.”