Fiction by Vin Maskell
Melbourne, 2011

Dad’s always said that he doesn’t dance. I believed him.

I mean, it’s no surprise. You’ve only got to look through his records and CDs. Cohen, Dylan, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits. Ray La Montaigne. Lyle Lovett. Not exactly party music.  Grumpy, cranky, whiney blokes I reckon.

Sometimes he plays Garland Jeffreys a little bit loud. Or those other ancient oldies, like Van Morrison and Springsteen and Dire Straits. And I think, Maybe this time he’ll dance. But Dad sits there in the loungeroom, doing that nine-letter newspaper puzzle. What’s it called? Target. I thought that was a shop.

Sometimes, especially when we have visitors, he plays some of Mum’s tango CDs. But just as background music.  I try to imagine Mum and Dad dancing together. Mum can dance. I saw her at her 50th.  But, no, Dad’s always said that he doesn’t dance.

One day I came home from school and went straight to my room. Just crashed on the bed. Started to doze off with some Sara Blasko in the headphones.

I was woken, slowly, by music. Different music.  Loud music. Not Dylan or Cohen, thank god.  I wondered if I was dreaming. You know, when you nap too long and it takes a little while to get your head around things. Like where you are and what time it is.

There was loud music booming through the house. Pop music.

Dad wasn’t in the loungeroom with the newspaper on his lap.

He was in the kitchen, with his back to me. He was cooking. Peeling. Slicing. Dicing. Frying. Steaming.

And dancing. Well, sort of. He was at the kitchen bench and he was moving to the music. In correct time. I could see his head bobbing and his shoulders flexing up and down.

When he turned from the bench to the stovetop he paused, in time to the song. When he opened and closed the fridge door, he did the same.

Rumour has it that my Dad doesn’t dance but he was moving in time to the song. And that’s dancing, isn’t it?

I went back to my room, letting my father keep his secret.

Vin is founding editor of Stereo Stories and director/MC of Stereo Stories In Concert.