My Three-Minute Love Affairs

Ross Konikoff

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Today, after many classes where I was advised to think of each dance as a ‘three-minute love affair,’ and after scores of hours practicing in a studio, not to mention many, many nights out on the floor dancing to live swing bands, I have come a long way. In the beginning, my teachers referred to my moves as ‘hideous and laughable,’ but, these days, those very same teachers lavish high praise on my moves with observations such as, ‘Hes not as bad as he looks.’”—Ross Konikoff

West Side Stories

 By Ross Konikoff

Ross and Deborah at the Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing.

Ross and Deborah at the Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing.

Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—May 1, 2021—Of all the things Deborah misses most due to the past twelve-month lock-down, the annual three-week-long Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing dance festival tops the list.

Deborah, being a fantastic swing dancer, having competed in numerous ballroom competitions, insisted I learn to dance at the very start of our marriage. We’ve attended this celebration every year since its inception 26 years ago. They feature a different live orchestra every night, a rarity in these days of taped music and DJs.

In fact, many of you musicians reading this have appeared up on that bandstand over the years, playing two sets of great music while watching me flounder around on the floor! Dancing has never been easy for me and, a few nights ago, after downing several vats of gin, I finally broke down and related to Deborah the sad story of how I developed a deep-rooted aversion to dancing, tearfully recounting the trauma I suffered as a young teen in the seventh grade. The wounds may have healed, but some nasty scars lie in their wake. Anyway, since the cat’s out of the bag, I may as well spill the remaining beans.

Ross and Deborah: twelve years of three-minute, Manhattan love affairs.

Ross and Deborah: twelve years of three-minute Manhattan love affairs.

Right around the mid-20th-century mark, the Buffalo Public School System decided to include, as part of its Comprehensive Physical Education Curriculum, a course in ballroom dancing. I found it terribly embarrassing trying to dance while reconciling the inner with the outer manifestations of this emerging 13-year-old boy as I held a real, live girl in my arms for the first time.

This experience triggered a blizzard of conflicting emotions, each colliding with the others like subatomic particles smashing together in a cyclotron. I was buffeted from all directions by the opposing crosswinds of blinding lust and revolting disgust.

Although I never mentioned my suspicions to Mom and Pop, I was convinced that, as a result of the school’s Gigolo Training Program, my endocrine system was catapulted prematurely towards that of a middle-aged, twice-divorced alcoholic.

Sure enough, at my annual physical later that year, our family doctor noted my abnormally high testosterone levels and expressed his bewilderment that I hadn’t yet sported a pencil mustache, started pomading my hair, and begun speaking with an Eastern European accent.

To further complicate matters, our instructor was a humorless, former ballroom dance champion, hopelessly embittered by her longtime partner’s recent abandonment as well as her steep three- month decline from National Championship Ballroom competition at the Hollywood Palladium Ballroom in Los Angeles, with Lester Lanin himself waving the baton, all the way down to teaching pimply-faced teens the Box Step in a suburban Buffalo Junior High School. From where I stood, however, my dilemma eclipsed hers by a mile.

But today, after many classes where I was advised to think of each dance as a “three-minute love affair,” and after scores of hours practicing in a studio, not to mention many, many nights out on the floor dancing to live swing bands, I have come a long way. In the beginning, my teachers referred to my moves as “hideous and laughable,” but, these days, those very same teachers lavish high praise on my moves with observations such as, “Hes not as bad as he looks,” “I’ve never seen dancing like that,” and “He’s never looked better!

I haven’t yet gained the confidence to assume I’ll always do the right step, on the right beat, with the right technique, but there’s one thing I have gained for sure: a fantastic, enthusiastic, patient, understanding partner, the girl with whom I’ll happily dance a million more “three-minute love affairs,” and, as far as I’m concerned, that makes me Fred Astaire.

Ross Konikoff

About Ross Konikoff

Ross Konikoff, freelance New York City trumpet player, states he is delighted and honored to have his work put before the highly discriminating readers of Weekly Hubris, published and edited by his friend and mentor, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring. Konikoff was born in Buffalo, New York, a cold environment; surrounded by desperate people, out of work, out of money, and out of opportunity. And that was just in his house. Determined to pull himself up by his mute straps, Ross quickly ascended from his first job as a seven-year-old paperboy to his second job as an eight-year-old paperboy. Eventually, he taught himself how to play the trumpet and learned many songs; managed to make something of himself; and accumulated a Manhattan condo, a trophy wife, and a phalanx of deadbeat friends along the way. The trumpet requires hours of daily maintenance to stay in tip-top shape, but Ross’s desire to write things that make people laugh also requires hours of work. Splitting his time between his lips and his laptop, he humbly presents to you his first efforts at getting some laughs and, most importantly, some attention: Breaking Even Every Time; and You've Got To Be Carefully Taut. (Banner image: Ross Konikoff on trumpet, far right, with Buddy Rich.)
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One Response to My Three-Minute Love Affairs

  1. Avatar Will says:

    Ross, you make me miss dancing more than ever! And all praise to the beautiful Deborah – clearly inspiration to be a better dancer, and surely a joy of a partner.

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