There are loyal hearts; there are spirits brave; there are
souls that are pure and true.
Despina is disappointed when work on the school walls is postponed yet again, this time to build a hogan to hold the burgeoning outdoor art business. Although she realizes that rain WILL come again, and the new money source needs to be protected, she hates how low the priority on education is, judging by the interrupts.
Grump! Get over it! You were hired to teach the children. No promises were made about the poshness of the conditions you’d endure in the process. This is just another one of those irritating “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” situations. You’ve lived through them before, and you can again. Despina gives her shoulders a symbolic shake and sets off for her classroom, determined to be upbeat for the children.
After a day spent playing various types of evocative music while her students drew or wrote whatever came into their heads, Despina shows off some of the fantastic artwork created at the campgrounds that night. When all the creations have been duly commented on and praised, the campfire group grows quiet.
Lupe, one of the Indian women, is eyeballing Paul Peter longingly. If anyone else notices, they refrain from making any comments, which is highly unusual for this group. Finally, Despina, supine with her head resting on her log, can't take it any more.
Getting up, she expectantly holds out her hand, saying, "PP, give me your keys. I think we need a little mood music."
"Hormones running a bit hot?" Paul Peter suggests.
"Not mine,” Despina denies. “I'm just doing a community service, here."
Bringing the jeep close to the outer edge of the campfire circle, she pops in a tape, only to be greeted by raucous music. Three tapes later, she inquires, "Don't you have anything in here you can dance to? The labels are all gone."
Bruno disappears, then comes over, offering her a tape. Tipping it toward the fire, she smiles up at him. "Perfect. PP won't like it, though."
"I hear you like the dance," Horst injects.
"No, not really,” Despina again denies. “I was just being polite the first time I danced."
Paul Peter utters a rude sound. "Polite? You call that polite? You were pasted securely to Cu in a most impolite manner."
"With that one exception," Despina acknowledges.
Bruno holds out a hand. "May I?"
Charmed, she pushes in the tape, takes his hand and dances.
"Ah, you valtz. Americans no like much the valtz."
"Tales from the Vienna Woods" is followed by "The Blue Danube".
Finally, Lupe asks Paul Peter to dance.
"I don't do that kind of dancing," he states, blowing a smoke ring.
"Far too civilized for him," quips Despina in passing.
Thus goaded, he arises and does a hammed-up parody of Bruno's graceful swoops and swirls. Even more exaggerated than Yul Brynner's version in Anna and the King of Siam, thinks Despina, glancing his way as Bruno twirls her gracefully. As she watches, he drags his hapless partner precariously close to the flames at one point. "Don't take it out on her, PP. Just say 'no', if you don't intend to dance. You'll scar her for life."
Cu appears suddenly, and Bruno, pleading lack of breath, hands Despina over in mid-twirl. Cu, a fast study, follows Bruno's exact movements, fluidly, not choppily like Paul Peter. Breathless, giddy, laughing, at the end of the tape, they collapse against the log.
"That's the first time I've ever heard "Waltzing Matilda" sung as a waltz, not a march," she comments in English.
"Usas español," Cu admonishes.
Despina’s mouth drops open. "Quién sabe como se dice waltz en español?"
Great. Well, ignorance loves company, 'tis said. I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't know the Spanish for all the words in my English vocabulary. "Pues, este baile que se llama the waltz en inglés usa un ritmo 'UNO, dos, tres, UNO, dos, tres, UNO, dos, tres... Pero, aquí in los Estados Unidos, se canta la canción Waltzing Matilda con un ritmo con cuatro even beats a un measure, 'UNO, DOS, TRES, CUATRO, UNO, DOS, TRES, CUATRO, UNO, DOS, TRES, CUATRO, como marchan los soldados del mundo. Por eso, se llama un march en inglés."
Cu, sprawling like a rag doll dropped forgotten after playing, eyes her hopefully, but with no glimmer of understanding.
"Oh, es imposible explicar algo sin palabras!" Exasperated, she finally stands and sings the chorus as a march, clapping the beats and acting very military, then as a waltz, twirling and swooping as she sings.
Alberto appears from the shadows, copying her.
Winding down like a Victrola in need of a hearty crank or two, she settles beside Cu, not quite touching.
Last updated 3/16/10 Increased sense of Despina not enjoying some aspects of her situation. 2/24/10 Added first two paragraphs -- building of the hogan to protect the art panels; 2/23/10 Added tells. 1/9/10 added initial paragraph about class activities.7/21/08, corrected Yul Brynner. (1/2/06 changed time frame in first line, added to PP's dance paragraph). 11/21/04.
Word Count: 808
Reading Level: 4.8