Almost every time that I return from fishing, I flop down on the couch and my wife is obliged to hear (for the millionth time): “Damn it was a really great day, but I’m exhausted, my legs hurt and my stupid lower back is killing me and my crummy right shoulder…
Why ever did the good Lord give us these mickey-mouse articulations and lousy muscles instead of modern stuff in carbon and indestructible high-tech materials?”
Last night my sweetheart pulled me by the sleeve, forced me to sit in front of her large screen computer and obliged me to watch a documentary film, a real masterpiece of optimism called “Been Rich All My Life”; until that moment I knew nothing of these women.
And watching it, suddenly all of my little miseries evaporated without the aid of aspirin or other medicinal junk.
It’s the story of tap dancers, the legendary chorus girls called the “Silver Belles” who are pushing a 100 today. They continue to dance (a little slower perhaps) as they have all their life, since the 30’s, the crazy years of the Cotton Club and the Apollo up in Harlem in New York City. And they’ll dance right to the end, in spite of the iniquities and the grueling life that they endured. Listen to the fabulous Bertye Lou Wood, one of the leaders of the group, 96 years old: “I’m gong to dance, dance, dance, ’till I can’t dance no more and I’m going to live, live, live, ’til I die.” Can you imagine, during the celebrated epoch of the Cotton Club they would dance nine shows a day, work continuously for 16 hours… everyday!
And a great part of the story is that one lovely day they had had it with being exploited by the bosses and were the first African/American women in the USA to go on strike; it was these gals who took that risk. And you’d better believe, that was a big deal for blacks at the time! After a few days the bosses of the club, seeing their bankroll evaporate, relented; they would increase the dancers salary, but refused to take back the “ringleaders”.
“It’s everyone or no one!” was the response.
Today they’re all in their high 80’s and in spite of multiple cancers, arthritis, falls down the Metro stairs at 125th street in Harlem… they dance. To dance for these marvelous women is to live, it’s FUN; in New York they are, still and forever, stars and role models for a lot of young women!
And are they beautiful, these ancient lovers of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington! And how they love each other and laugh together as they have since day one!
And me, damn it, who complains about my pathetic vertebrae! Button it up Fleche. Go and have fun fishing and stop being a pain in the ass. You are a lucky bastard so, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
“OK. But I think I’ll offer myself a ticket to the Apollo saturday night! Wanna come along?