From time to time my mother used to sporadically zip around the house jumping and spinning in the way she presumes a ballet dancer would do. She would say, “Erin, this is where you get your natural dancing skills from.”
I’m not really sure if mom has an innate sense of her own coordination. I hadn’t really thought about it. She has, on occasion, been inspired to imitate older men and she has an added excuse to do so if they are dancers. First there was ZORBA and then there was LARRY DAVID. Zorba (played by ANTHONY QUINN) happened to love dancing.
“Teach me to dance. Will you?”
“Dance. Did you say … dance?! Come on my boy!”
In the last scene of Zorba The Greek aka Alexis Zorbas, both Zorba and Basil (ALAN BATES), an Englishman who had recently settled into his small inheritance on a Greek Island, sit on a beach. Both are downtrodden by the disastrous outcome of their latest endeavors but Basil decides he must learn to dance.
In a moment life’s difficult realities are pushed aside and the two begin to dance. Mom stopped, rewound and replayed this scene over and over until she had memorized…almost…every step. In the midst of her triumph, where she was imagining herself dancing on that beach next to Zorba and Basil, I got up from the couch to correct her on a few steps. Having watched this scene more than five times I was now very familiar with the dance and with Zorba’s enthusiasm.
A year later we would find ourselves living on a friends sailboat in a Mexican bay. Sitting around a raging fire on a deserted beach Mom would get up, wine glass in hand realizing it as the perfect opportunity to become Zorba.
That was not the first instance in which she saw an opportunity to identify herself with an old Greek man. When we’d dock to gather supplies, mom and Fiona, a family friend and inhabitant of the sailboat, would hold onto each-others shoulders and picture themselves on the beaches of Greece. With great confidence, and meandering feet they moved along a narrow deck humming the soundtrack to the final scene of Zorba The Greek.