NORMAN — I’ve seen a lot in my almost 40 years. And, being a journalist, I feel like I’ve seen more than the average bear.
Once I had the chance, through my journalism connections, to not only get a front row seat to a very off Broadway production of “The Goodbye Girl” but to also meet one of my girlhood crushes, Eddie Mekka.
For years, I was jealous of Shirley Feeney on “Laverne & Shirley” because not only did she have the best roommate ever, she also had the best boyfriend ever, Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa.
I was in my mid 20s when I got to meet Mekka, who, FYI, still doesn’t mind being called “The Big Ragu.” Mekka was in town for the lead role in “The Goodbye Girl” and was not only gracious enough to meet with me backstage after his performance but also let me take a photo with him. It was one of the best days of my life.
Besides a brush with a D-list celebrity, I’ve also seen beautiful moments in humanity. I’ve seen people at their very best. I’ve seen people who have nothing give everything. I’ve also witnessed far too many tragedies.
But nothing prepared me for seeing my 74-year-old dad bust some major moves on the dance floor last weekend at a family wedding. It was so surreal, I had to ask about 10 people if it really happened. They all were just as shocked as I was but indicated that it had indeed happened and it was pretty amazing.
There was nothing unusual leading up to the events.
There were no red flags or conversations in the four-hour car ride to the wedding that later that evening my dad was going to dance his heart out.
In fact, it was a typical wedding. Dad looked nice in a sensible blazer and tie. He even broke out the good shoes, the ones he still keeps in the original box. And he wore a fedora. This, now that I think about it, should have been my tell-tale sign that something major was going to happen. My family is known for many things. Fashioning fedoras is not one of them.
Growing up, my dad taught me all of the important dance moves — The Twist and The Mashed Potato were always his favorites. During the wedding reception, I gladly did the Mashed Potato as I was wearing those orange shoes I’d mentioned a few weeks ago.
The song ended and I thought, since I was having a hard time keeping up with my elderly partner, we’d go sit down.
Maybe we’d take a break and possibly grab a dance here and there later on in the evening. After all, I had to keep those orange shoes looking spiffy. But dad had something else in mind and he kept on dancing.
Before I knew it, a crowd had gathered around us on the dance floor. Now, I’m a decent dancer, but I’m not worthy of drawing attention in this manner. So, on my last spin on the dance floor I see my dad, twisting, shouting and showing all us young folk how to really shake ’em down.
I did what any daughter would do in this situation. I stopped mid-Mashed Potato and I gasped. My hands flew to my mouth and I knew this night just took a turn from being kind of fun to being epic.
It wasn’t until Dad’s jacket came off like something from “Saturday Night Fever” that I realized I’d never seen this side of my dad. He’d always been a dad. He worked hard at a job that he didn’t really care about. He paid the bills. He loved us kids and my mom. He was a dad.
I’ve always held my dad in the highest respects and I know today we should be honoring all our moms — I’ve got a pretty awesome mom, too.
But there’s just something about watching your dad take off his jacket, whirl it around his head like a helicopter and throw it on the ground during the song “Footloose” that makes you forget those times he yelled at you for the mysterious dent in the car or the times he would lecture you about money or ask if you had bought stock in the electric company since every light was on in the house.
Last Saturday night as a crowd of 20-somethings got a bird’s eye view of something spectacular, that was one of the greatest moments in my life.