Wanting something so much can lead you to a place that has no way out.
It was 1947, and I was fifteen—almost sixteen. The war was over, Joe, my stepfather, was home, and my mom had quit her job so she could take care of him and me. School was just a week away when Joe came in one evening and said we were going on vacation in Florida. It took us four days and three flat tires to get there, only to discover that no one goes to Palm Beach in the fall. There was only one hotel open—Le Mirage.We were so glad to feel the air conditioning that we didn’t notice that it looked run down. It had been closed during the war, and no one had fixed it up.
At first it was great, going to the beach everyday, going shopping with Mom. But after Mom and Joe met Tom and Arlene Grayson and started staying up late to play bridge with them, I got bored, and started wondering when we’d be going home. And then one night, everything changed.
The hotel was having a dance, and suddenly I wanted to be there. I wanted a glamorous dress, a corsage, and a date. And I knew exactly the dress I wanted. It was in Mom’s closet, spring green with purple flowers. Mom and Arlene came in while I was trying it on, and helped me with my hair and makeup. Just one dance, that’s all I wanted. Just one dance.
There was so much I didn’t know then, so much I know now. I didn’t know how easy it was to take one step, and then another and another. I didn’t know then that there’s no such thing as “just one” when it’s something you want so badly. I didn’t know that wanting can lead you to a place that has no way out. I didn’t know that, when I met Peter, had my one dance with him and my first kiss. I didn’t know, I couldn’t have known. But if I had, would I have made a different choice?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.