When I was in high school, there was a dance in Vivian every other Friday night. Kids came from all of the surrounding towns, so it was always crowded and full of drama. Lots of hookups and breakups happened at the Vivian Dance. Although it won’t seem like it at first, the story I’m going to tell is a Vivian dance story.
The weekly dance started years before my high school days and probably went on for years after. I don’t know. Everyone understood that what happened in Vivian, did not stay in Vivian.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason there are so many Murdo Girl readers, is because everyone’s afraid of what I might write about them, and they don’t want to be the last to know. It was the same way with the Vivian Dance. You had to be there.
The summer after high school graduation, I went to California. My sister-in-law got me a summer job working at the Chancellor’s Office for the California State Colleges. It was a lot of fun. I worked with a proof reader who had a daughter about my age. She was also working there for the summer. Maureen and I became good friends. Then, the last few weeks I was there, a high school friend of mine, Josephine Jost, came out to California.
My sister-in-law had a little MG convertible that she let me take to pick Josephine up at the airport. The car was very little and Jo was far from a light packer. We somehow managed to get all her suitcases shoved in the backseat. The problem was, they stuck out on the sides and we couldn’t see behind us without stretching way out. I’m talking hanging over the door to our waist way out.
Once we got her luggage all stashed, off to the freeway we went. I hadn’t driven much in California, but my sister-in-law had written down good directions and I was really pleased that I had made it to the airport without any wrong turns.I made up for that on the way back. Reversing directions proved to be a real challenge for the little Murdo Girl and Josephine was just along for the ride. Nothing ever shook Josephine up anyway.
Well, I took the wrong exit off the freeway and was extremely afraid I would never find my way back. The freeways are four lanes and they don’t have those neat turnarounds where you can get back on the freeway going the other direction real easily. If you read my Murdo Girl driving stories, you know I didn’t do all that well on a gravel road. A person could be like the guy in the song who never returned and his fate is still unlearned.
I made a quick decision to turn around and go back up the exit. I still can’t believe I did that. Josephine will remember if you want to fact check me. I managed to scoot that little yellow MG far enough over that we somehow avoided a terrible accident. One driver yelled. YOU CAN’T DO THAT! Josephine yelled back, OH, YEAH?! WE JUST DID!! We weren’t even smart enough to be scared.
We got a tiny efficiency apartment, just a few blocks from where I was working. The idea was to get Josephine a job too, but we never got around to that. The apartment had a medium-sized living room area and a Murphy bed that pulled down to reveal a closet. It had a small bathroom and a very small counter with a hot plate. That was our kitchen, where we cooked every night. Well, almost every night. Once or twice at least.
A few weeks later, we decided to go back to Murdo. Back then, you could usually get a standby ticket for $50.00. My work friend, Maureen dropped us off at the airport and we slowly made our way to the ticket counter. I say slowly, because we were going back in style. We had all of Josephine’s luggage plus mine along with a guitar and one of those bonnet hair dryers. I don’t remember which one of us had the guitar but I don’t recall either of us playing it. We each had purchased a cute short wig, and a leather fringed jacket. We were impressed with ourselves and couldn’t wait to make our appearance. We had rushed around to get ready so we could get back on Friday night in time to go to the Vivian dance.
We made it as far as Salt Lake City before we got bumped. Regardless of whether we caught another flight that day or not, we were broke and would be at the airport for the duration. We passed the hours we waited, by pushing each other around the airport in a wheel chair. We were hoping someone would feel sorry for us and give up their seats, but that didn’t happen.
Finally there were two seats open on the last flight to Rapid. We were told we weren’t the next in line. It was a man and woman with two little ones. Josephine and I kept checking our watches while invading the family’s space. We listened to them try to decide if one adult and one child should go ahead and the other two follow later. It was nip and tuck until the last minute. We told anyone who would listen that we only had $20.00 between us. I guess I didn’t mention that there was only a slight chance of getting on a flight the following morning.
We lucked out and were allowed to check our many bags and take our seats on the plane. Next stop..Rapid City. When we finally got to Rapid, Josephine called a friend she had on standby to pick us up. We had another couple of hours to pass in an airport. We didn’t eat because we needed the 20 bucks for the dance. Our ride got there and we were off and running.
I can’t remember the guy’s name now, but when we got to Murdo, we had him drop us off at my house. Mom was out of town I guess. I don’t remember if she even knew we were coming back. We had to lay low, because if word got around that we were back in town, it would ruin the big surprise. We were both exhausted, and didn’t want to get to the dance until between 9 and 10 anyway, so we asked the guy who was nice enough to drive us to Murdo, if he would come back and get us at 9:00 sharp!
Confident that we had it all figured out, we went to sleep….and didn’t wake up until 4:00 a.m. Even the Vivian Dance doesn’t last that long. We were madder than hops at ourselves. It was 4:00 o’clock in the morning, and we were wide awake, with no place to go, which was a good thing because we had no way to get there. The picker upper guy said he came by and honked the horn, but figured we had caught a ride with someone else when we didn’t show up.
Later, we heard the dance was a whole lot of fun, which made it even more devastating. The stars weren’t aligned. We pushed the river and it’s supposed to flow. All those kids at the Vivian dance didn’t know what they had missed. They were deprived of our grand entrance signifying our return to Murdo.
I’m sure many who read this have bigger and better Vivian Dance stories, but this isn’t too bad since we didn’t even make it there.
The Murdo Party is on Wednesday. I need time to get ready…and a nap. The Queen and Camilla plan to come. Should be fun.