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When You're Smiling: On True Love, Vinyl, And Jealous Daughters

Me and her, dancing.

Last night, in the kitchen.

Monica was on her way back into the living room when I decided I would grab her.

So, I grabbed her.

I grabbed her and spun her back toward me with the sexy roughness you can learn and only learn from spinning thousands of Frank Sinatra records on vinyl. I’m serious. I mean, you don’t think you can just bang yourself out a fresh cut Key to the Universe by downloading some digitized version of “New York, New York” into your LiePod, right? You know better than that, playa.

It doesn’t work like that.

It has taken me years to figure this thing out. You have to let the older unknown songs seep through your skin, over and over. You have to stand there a few feet from the record player and let the crackles and pops whisper eternal truths and secrets at you; you have to let tiny chatty Yodas parachute down into you ear. You need to shut up for once, and listen.

Anyways, I can’t teach you how to be a Romantic Jedi because I’m still working on it myself. But I know a thing or two about The Rat Pack ways, even if I don’t sling them around all that much anymore. Last night was different though. After a few nights without my wife around, I was able to shine a light down a couple of my old veins, and scrape a little of the old gold flecks off the walls. I grabbed her as she headed back towards the couch/the TV. I spun her back toward me with my one hand and flicked the turntable on with the other.

You can’t be careful here. You have to let go of your inhibitions. You have to feel sexier and handsomer and more dapper than you have ever even actually been and you have to look at your lady/your wife/girlfriend/baby mama/boyfriend/husband/whatever and be the Subtle Savage. Because so much of romance, even short blasts of it, depends on confidence. So much of #winning depends on you believing your own jive.

The greatest music in the world poured out at the very second our hands met.

(Well actually: at first she had to correct my hands because it seems my intentions are honorable but my limbs are not.)

And long story short: we swayed. We moved in a tight circle and the small of her back, the sharp sexy canyon down the center of her back, it shifted ever so slightly in the palm of my hand and I felt the Earth move and flip and I could have run a sword through my own chest at that moment for being such a fool, for not dancing with her so many more nights than we ever have.

She seemed taken aback of course. She seemed a bit surprised by the whole act, but she fell into it pretty quickly. Maybe she knew I meant business. I like to think she did.

We slow spun around the ballroom of this Titanic of a home.

I thought: screw it: I’m gonna go in for the kill: I’m gonna kiss her neck really lightly.

That’s when I felt the pulling down at my knees. It was Violet, our three year old daughter. She was tugging hard. looking up at us with shiny eyes, exhilarated by this strange new show Mommy and Daddy were putting on. But her smile wasn’t quite that fun. It was more serious than that. She was grinning up at us, clinging to my knee and moving with us through our short orbit, with that look of someone on the edge of action/on the edge of starting a brawl.

“Hi baby,” I said down to her. Monica smiled down too.

Violet wasn’t interested. She pulled and ultimately I figured out that she wanted up. So I unhooked my arm from Ava Gardner’s back and I swung it down and scooped up the kid. Then I pulled her in so we were three, which I though was a nice touch.

Violet smiled. But there was jealousy there, in the crooked corners of her quivering lips.

“BYE-BYE MOMMY!’, she hollered as she pushed Monica away and locked her arms around me so tightly/ so that no one else in the world could possibly have the rest of that dance with her daddy. No one else in the world but her.

My heart shot a hole in the moon.

Me and Monica just stared at each other, jaws dropped to the final strains of the song drifting up and over all of us, and out into the endless night.

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