DY: In Just a Few Words (#56)
Please don't tell my mother.
Do you know what a night crawler is?
You probably think it’s a fancy term for a person who is out all night every night crawling from pub-to-pub. About sunrise, a night crawler somehow finds his/her way home, crawls into bed and rests up for a few hours when it’s time to be a night crawler again. You don’t want to be one of those.
Where I was raised in New Jersey, our town certainly had them and as I got older some of my boyhood friends became night crawlers. Sad. A terrible way to spend one’s life.
But that’s not the type of night crawler I am here to talk about today.
When I was a young boy, I fell in love with fishing. We had all kinds of good places to fish, including a creek just down the street that was stocked with trout. Stony Brook they called it. And - for sure - on Thursdays after school you could find 13-year-old Davis wading around in hip boots with my fly rod in quest of those elusive trout.
Guess what I used for bait? Yup, night crawlers. They would come out every night in our lawns and gardens, especially when they were wet. They were worms, big thick, gooey worms sometimes as much as six inches long. Trout love them. On Thursday afternoons, the trout would line up at a top secret fishing hole waiting for my arrival.
Because they come directly from the earth, night crawlers have a lot of dirt on them. It doesn’t take long for the dirt to soil one's hands and, in particular, to get under one’s fingernails. So, with dirty hands and fingernails and perhaps a trout in my creel, I would hear my mother ringing a cowbell, her signal that it was time to get home and change for Thursday afternoon dancing school.
I loved my mother, but I truly hated dancing school. Fishing was definitely more fun. And, so I would drag my feet, fishing right up to the last moment when I would fly home, put on a white shirt, clip on one of my two ties, put on my Sunday suit, slip into my Bass Weejuns and head off to dancing school with my mother. All the mothers came every week. I know my mother came because she was afraid I might slip out a side door and soil our family’s good name. (Little did she know....)
Two things stand out in my memory about dancing school.
The first is that at age 13, all the girls - no exceptions - were taller than me. If I stared straight ahead while learning the Fox Trot, my eyes would be focused directly on their chins.
The second was that all the boys had to wear white gloves. To this day, I am proud indeed that underneath those beautiful white gloves were reminders of my friends the night crawlers. That’s a secret I have kept for all these years. Had any of those other mothers known what was under my white gloves, I would have been severely punished - perhaps even run out of town. And, at the very least, I would have been required to take an additional year of dancing instruction. Heaven forbid! Anything but that, please.
Today, those tall, beautiful young maidens are all in their 80s. They have shrunk in height and I have grown in self-confidence. Our heights are now nearly equal.
I apologize to each and every one of them for my night crawler escapades in white gloves. It’s time for me to tell my night crawler story and for those nice girls from good families to know how sorry I am. My father, who was a public servant, used to say you need to have clean hands to go to court. You also need clean hands to go to dancing school. I sure hope none of those girls ever got involved with a night crawler.
That’s my dancing school story and I’m sticking to it.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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