Dance With Me

In middle school I remember standing on the side of the gym, watching the girls in tight tank tops dance with the boys with good hair. You know, the kind that looked really good under a baseball hat. I vaguely remember working up the courage to send a friend over to the boy I’d been careful to insert myself in front of all night long. But mostly I remember pushing through the double doors to the parking lot to call my dad. Asking him to please come get me. Please. Feeling the shock of cold air against my hot cheeks. Sitting and staring at nothing in particular until that old Volvo came into view.

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In high school, at prom, I remember watching my then-boyfriend dance with another girl. (Sidebar: They would begin dating soon after. She was, of course, extremely pretty. My 23-year old self would like to add that she is also incredibly nice.) I’d been hiding out by the photo booth — nursing a strawberry daiquiri while trying not to look too obviously at all of the moving bodies — when I caught a glimpse of them.

He was so tall; they made such a nice picture. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that she was, I don’t know, doing prom, much better than me. She wore a real dress, a longer one, with carefully tousled waves falling halfway down her back. She looked like a doll. They twirled around and around, actually dancing. And I remember thinking, a touch defensively: I am not a dancer.

I went home alone, immediately after the event. Do you know what I really remember about prom? Standing in my mother’s kitchen, picking at the hardened crust on a casserole she’d made. It was just what I wanted. Or close enough, anyway.

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Do you remember dancing with me, in our socks, across the kitchen tiles?

I would always put both of my feet on yours, like little girls do with their dads. I was just short enough for you to rest your chin on the top of my head. I wore sweatpants with the drawstring lost and you wore a sweatshirt big enough to zip me into. I dissolved into giggles every time you took an exaggerated step. Do you remember swaying there with me, singing in my ear? I could dance, with you. I loved to dance.

Do you remember how many things I burned because you’d coaxed me away from the stove? Dance with me. How many times over I ruined that saucepan? I still haven’t thrown it out. I pull it out every time I go to make hot fudge, and I think of you every time I walk over to the radio and carefully turn it off. Dance with me.

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This hot fudge, it’s the real deal. The recipe lives on a 3-by-5 card in my mother’s recipe box. There is no source — there is only enough to know that it was clipped from a newspaper a very long time ago. I could just kiss whoever came up with it.

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Hot Fudge Sauce

What you need:

6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (basic, basic, chocolate here — now is not the time to get fancy!)

1 ½ cups sugar

¾ cup whipping cream

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsps. vanilla extract

What to do:

Place chocolate, sugar, and cream in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Bit by bit, beat in butter until well incorporated. Remove from heat and one at a time, stir in until smooth the lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into heatproof containers (we use Ball jars), cool to room temperature, cover with an airtight lid. Refrigerate. To reheat, remove lid and place in pot of gently simmering water. Makes about 3 cups of very thick, very rich, not sweet hot fudge sauce.

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