Dance on, little sister….

If you didn’t know that there was a Puerto Rican restaurant in the worn building tucked between a highway and a tired strip mall in a working class neighborhood, you’d drive right by.

Most days, Antojitos does a steady business for lunch and dinner.  One Saturday night a month, they close to host a private party – reservations only.  Fabulous buffet dinner for $20.  Since it’s a private party?  Bring your own drinks.

The magic starts when the music begins.  Members of a regional salsa band consider it a ‘jam’.  They have friends, and other musicians drop in whenever possible.  Sometimes a small subset of the band gets going.  Other nights?  The small storefront is packed solid with a full horn section, percussion, keyboard and guitars.

At some point during the evening, you are no longer in a nearly invisible restaurant in a smallish town in the Midwest – you forget all that.  You’re in Old San Juan, or some cheerful dive in Central America, or in Little Havana….

Last weekend, i joined friends to celebrate a birthday at Antojitos.  Some had been to “Salsa Night” before, but for a few it was a first time.  It was a good night to be baptized.  Full horn section in the house, with guest artists from a local high school jazz band. My guitar teacher, and her husband, were there as well.  Almost two dozen musicians!

The place was packed!  Our group of 20 crammed two tables at the front of the restaurant.  Another 50 people were packed in – tables so close together we were nearly sitting on top of each other!

Getting our fill of the amazing food at the buffet, our attention turned to a matter of tremendous importance — making room for a dance floor!  We helped tear down two large tables, and rearrange to clear some space in the middle of the room.

The music started.  The magic happened.  Couples hopped up to dance.  Young children joined on percussion instruments.  Joy, laughter, music!  All ages in the house – including multi-generational families.

And so it went… music, dance, drinks, laughter.

By midnight, the crowd had thinned out a bit, but the dancers had kicked up the energy to fill the space.  Returning from the restroom, i was stopped by a young girl.  Maybe 10 years old…

“I like the way you dance.”

Confident and direct, this was completely unexpected!  i mentioned that she seemed to be pretty good on the percussion instruments, too!  i thanked her, and returned to the dance floor.

As the band kicked into the last song of the night, i was standing by a wall, deciding if i had one more in me.  My young friend stepped up, took my hand and led me out to the floor.  The kid had salsa moves!  Executing steps and turns with confidence and grace, she threw it down – and i had to work to keep up!

dance li'l sister

This was taken earlier in the night, but that’s my girl in the light blue shirt.  She’s got it goin’ on…

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Postcards from the edge…

The Boy completes basic training soon. i’ve had several calls, and even a couple of letters, and he’s doing very well – most importantly, he loves the challenge of the training, and is comfortable with his decision to enter the military.

During his training, i was diligently writing a couple of letters each week.  He said mail call was usually a pretty relaxed part of the day, and the Drill Sergeants were starting to have more fun messing with the recruits.  Postcards were read aloud, with much drama and commentary.

With a week of farting around on an island, Studley and i had a perfect opportunity to entertain the troops.  Selecting two classic postcards from the resort gift shop, we set about crafting some silliness.

Card #1:

Dear Boy,

Having a good time, but the trip had a very rough start!  Studley went off with a flight attendant!  i was heart-broken, but the boat captain, Carlos, has been so comforting!  He’s about your age, but real mature!  He might end up being your next Daddy!  Hope to bring him to your graduation in March!

Love,

Mom

Surf's up!Card #2:

Dear Boy,

Was having a good time but then your Mom left me.  I went to ask this flight attendant her recommendation on where to eat, and next thing you know, your mom is leaving with a local kid, AND MY WALLET!  I’m waiting on a money order so I can get home.  Hope all is well with you.

Studley

ready to retireWhen he called yesterday to sort logistics for his graduation, i asked if he’d gotten the post cards.

The Boy:  Oh, yeah!  That was pretty funny!

daisyfae:  Did the Drill Sergeant read them out loud?

The Boy:  He read the one from Studley to himself first.  Read it a couple of times, and then handed it to me.  Said “Seems PFC Fae has some messed up family issues at home!”  He must have figured it was a joke when he saw the one from you – and he read that one out loud!  It was pretty funny!

daisyfae: Mission accomplished!