On warm summer Saturday evenings of the mid-80s, several of my friends and I would head to an outdoor bar along the downtown river to enjoy the setting sun and listen to the big band sounds of the 40s piped to the outdoor area. The breezes kept away the mosquitoes and perspiration, making it ideal for relaxing or dancing a few slow dances. Occasionally, a hit from the 50s (our generation) could be heard, so we would break into the “bop” for a bit of high school nostalgia.
The few husbands in tow would make sure each of us “single gals” danced at least once, then we would settle into quiet conversation until the sun set, the breezes faded away, the last drop of alcohol had been drained and the mosquitoes descended with voracity.
The place was seldom crowded, with couples drifting in on the way to or from dinner or dropping in, like us, just to hear the music and share the events of the week.
Once, during Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade, a handsome young couple emerged from the shadows and for several minutes held us all in awe as they put on a spectacular display of professional ballroom dancing. Wow. We were entranced and when they glided back into the shadows we all applauded. The rest of the evening was spent speculating about who they were, where they came from and where they were going.
Toward the end of the summer, a 40-ish, dark haired, dark eyed man appeared at the bar. We all noticed him as he was resplendent in a dark brown polyester leisure suit with a matching shirt of orange, yellow and brown design. (Remember now, this is the 80s and polyester had been declared a fashion disaster and, in Florida during the summer, these non-breathing garments turned into sweat machines.) The smell of his Old Spice, even from a safe distance, was so strong that it overrode our own perfumes, cigarettes and drinks.
He first approached one of my single friends, bowed slightly, and asked her to dance. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so she accepted. Upon returning Barb to the table, he bowed again, kissed her hand and – yes – clicked his heels. He was a pretty good dancer, as we women were all soon to discover. Before the evening ended, he had danced with each of us. Ever the gentleman, he was polite and not once improper, kissing our hands and clicking his heels as he brought us back to our seats. After we each had danced, he disappeared, much to the relief of the husbands.
Who was this man? We giggled and guessed, and that’s when we dubbed him “Señor Poly Ester.” It was two weekends later before we all got together again and headed to the river. We had forgotten about Señor Poly Ester. Just as the sun had fully set, there he was, this time impeccable in a powder blue leisure suit with matching shirt. As before, his shoes glistened almost as much as the pomade on his hair and the scent of his cologne tipped us off he was behind us at the bar.
We women hit the panic button and hurriedly plotted whispered escape routes. Would it be too obvious if we all hit the ladies room at the same time? Oops, too late. He was so gallant that we didn’t want to be rude, so all but Barb, who professed a sprained ankle, were, in turn, on the dance floor, trying hard not to breathe in too much Old Spice. This evening, after he had hand-kissed and heel-clicked each of back to the table, he even went to a group of women on the other side of the deck and successfully whirled each of those four around the dance floor.
When he finally disappeared, we all collapsed into laughter, including the four across the way. My group also decided that it was time to find a new place to meet. We just couldn’t endure another encounter with Señor Poly Ester, as charming and outdated as he was. Besides, with the end of summer, the breeze off the river was cooling down.
We never saw Señor Poly Ester again, but we often talked about him. He never told us his real name and other than to ask us to dance, had very little to say.
It’s been over 20 years now, the river bar is long gone, one of my friends has passed away, and I haven’t seen the others in several years. I wonder if they, too, remember Señor Poly Ester and the Saturday summer evenings on the river. I wonder, too, if Señor Poly Ester remembers us and if he ever updated his wardrobe.
© Copyright 2006 Suzzwords