'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dance Classes

There are some beautiful sights to see around the garden at this time of year but there isn't much time to see them because it gets dark so early. There's plenty of time to look at the stars. Even after dark, the local bird-watching club are out in the fields, looking for birds. They only watch drunk birds, so a lot of their time is spent getting birds drunk.

My aunt Bridget and her friend, Anne, were having lunch in a small cafe one day. The walls were decorated with wallpaper that had a very intricate pattern. When they looked closely at it they noticed that there were words in it. Bridget found the start of a paragraph and she followed it all the way to the window. It was an ad for dance classes where you'd learn how to tango and how to levitate. You had to tango very quickly before you'd start levitating, and if you didn't learn to levitate, at least you'd learn how to dance.

There was an address in the ad. Bridget wrote it down, and after they finished their lunch, Bridget and Anne went there. It was an old house near the sea. The grounds were surrounded by trees. The front gate was locked, but they saw a woman walking around the garden inside, and she came over to them.

"My name is Nancy," she said. "How can I help you?"

"We saw an ad for dance classes," Bridget said. "Do we have the right address?"

"It was my grandmother, Julianne, who taught those classes. Some of her former students come here every so often and they teach any new students, but we don't get too many. Come on in and we can ask the secretary when the next class is being held."

Nancy opened the gate and let them in. They walked up a gravel drive, but the gravel was being engulfed by weeds. Nancy told them that the grounds around the house needed a lot of work if they were to be returned to their former glory, but she had no intention of doing anything to them. She liked the glimpse of former glory they offered and the melancholy feeling she got when she thought about a world that was lost to the past. It made the place seem even more isolated. She loved the lonely sound of the seagulls too.

Nancy led them into the house through the front door. On a wall just inside the door there was a portrait of a man in a park. Nancy said, "That's my grandfather in a park in one of the Low Countries. I don't know which one it was. He enjoyed his time in all of them. But he enjoyed the time he spent digging graves as well, so I don't know what that says about the Low Countries, if anything. He also enjoyed borrowing other people's teeth and using them to bite through crayons. He had a box full of crayons he'd bitten. He never knew what to do with them."

The secretary's office was in a room off the hall, but there was a sign on the door that said 'Gone to lunch'. Nancy took them to the kitchen, where the secretary was making tea. She asked them to stay quiet during this operation. She carefully poured the tea into a glass cup. She stopped pouring when the tea reached a blue line, and then she added milk until the contents of the cup rose to a white line.

When she completed this operation she was ready to listen. Nancy asked her when the next dancer would be coming to visit. "I'll have to check in the diary to make sure," the secretary said, "but I think it won't be for another six weeks. If ye're interested in levitation ye could always look at the cat."

"I forgot about the cat," Nancy said. "He'd probably be asleep in the library at this time."

She took them upstairs to the library. The cat was sound asleep above the rug in front of the fireplace. He was about three feet above the rug. Bridget and Anne stared in disbelief. They were afraid to make a sound in case they woke the cat and he fell to the ground. Nancy broke the silence when she opened a small wooden box and said, "Would either of you like a sweet?"

They looked into the box. The sweets all looked like crayons that had been chewed. They both declined the offer.

Bridget has been trying to teach her cat how to dance ever since. He's a poor dance student, but she insists that he once levitated when someone played a very long note on a flute.

The moose's head over the fireplace was once mistaken for a levitating moose. The man who made this mistake had just been explaining to us that the left side of him was drunk and the right side was sober, and that's why he kept falling to his left. When he saw the moose's head he ran away towards an open door, but he veered to his left and he hit the wall.