It's 1963 and you've a party to go to. It's been a tough day at the Acme Diversified Product Corp. and you are planning on keeping it simple. You are wearing a dark gray, three button, center vent, and high waisted suit and you don't plan to change. Accessories include a pair of wing tips, a skinny black tie with the official company clip and a white cotton oxford.
You arrive home and find your wife in a pink taffeta dress, stiff and shiny. The skirt is knee length, and full. Her hair is a perfect bouffant. She’s ready to go. As you hold the car door open for her you notice that she looks great. She should, damnit - she's been working on it all day!
The ride is uneventful, "how was your day", and "what's new with the girls at the beauty parlor". You arrive at the sleek new ranch home of your colleague, Peter Meadow, Vice President of Sales for the Mid State Region. The lawns in the Green Manor subdivision are neatly coiffed. “Oh look the Peterson’s are installing a pool,” the little lady points out. Meadow’s house is new. You remember him calling it a “California Ranch”. You think that means it has only one floor.
Sure enough. The house is one floor and built of flat jutting limestone. The striking entrance is dramatically peaked with glass windows from the stoop to the roof line. You and the missus approach and let yourself in. You step into the sunken living room, assessing the modern decor. The carpeting is a short wool thread of rich blue. The furniture is blond oak and has a very "now" look to it. The trim is unadorned and the walls are covered with a stylish rattan paper. The low angular fireplace blazes warmly. It is open and shows the dining room on the other side. A woman stands sipping a Manhattan on the other side of the room. She reminds you of Jackie Kennedy, only kind of dirty. You recognize the thug she is flirting with from the mailroom and question how he got invited.
You remove your fedora and your wife's shawl just as your host reaches you with two perfectly prepared martinis. "Hey" Peter says handing you and your wife the drinks, "welcome -- come on in and make yourself at home." He turns to your wife and signals to the kitchen, "The gals are in there doing what gals do". He points to you and chuckles "Now come on pal, you gotta check out the Hi Fi." With a pat on the back you and your wife are parted.
Peter's a progressive guy and he's decorated the den in a minimalist style with plastic bucket chairs and a plywood sofa from “Scandinavia”. On his desk you spot the most recent copy of Man's Adventure Magazine, the one with the Rita Moreno photo spread. She’s a small dame but, I tell you!. A large painting hangs on the wall. It's a landscape you think, but the trees, mountains, and what might be a farm are reduced to abstract and loosely rendered rectangles. "Groovy painting, Peter," you lie, but he doesn't seem to hear. Peter is putting on a record. As he places the record on the turntable, you notice the album cover. “Exotica” it reads, and you can feel it through the way that luscious broad stares at you through that bamboo curtain.
You hear the needle hit the wax, followed by a relative silence, and then the room is filled with the quiet jungle sounds of light bongos and wild animals. The tonal quality of the equipment impresses you. Peter puts a lot of dough into his unit. When the full orchestra sets in, the room almost shakes. Peter dances eyes shut tightly. "She hates this", he yells over the music. Moments later, his wife Kerri enters with the other girls in tow. She smiles maternally as she passes the two of you. She turns down the stereo with a reprimanding smile. She takes her husband by the hand and leads him back to the living room without a word. He glances over his shoulder at you with smirk that says "what can I do?"
As you and yours follow, you notice that the party is picking up and that your drink is empty. The room is crowded now. The men are all the in dark suits that comprise the uniform of middle-class America during the Camelot era. The women are stylishly adorned in a rainbow variety of tight bodiced dresses like your wife's. One chick however stands out in a long tight fitting number with her hair pulled back in a beaded hairpiece and a neck full of cultured pearls.
You approach the wet bar where another friend, Marty is mixing his wife Lorraine a tall gimlet in an up glass. "Make it a double, you say holding out your glass, "...er, triple," you correct yourself as you remember your wife.
Around this time, a hep cat you recognize from procurement comes in with a new record sack under his arm. His name is Craven, and rumor has it that he spent a few months in New York after the service. He is young, full of energy and always showing off about something - usually it's a dame with legs up to her neck. "You guys have got to check this out", he says as he pulls a record from the bag. It is a new record by a musician called Jon Hendricks.
Craven slips into the other room and you hear the needle slide off the sounds of Polynesia and drop onto something different - way different. The partiers ponder the new sound for a moment. Soon smiles come to their faces and heads begin to move in rhythm. "Wow, this character can speak." You grab your wife to dance. It’s not fast like some of that Rock and Roll, but it’s sure sexy!
The song is smoky with a rattle and slide percussion. You can't prevent your hips from moving. Craven, has made his way to the corner where he has a single girl pinned between his tall lanky body and the wall. He is leaning over her with his arm resting behind her head. You overhear him tell her that it’s Bossa Nova. You don't have any idea what Bossa Nova is, but it seems to be working for him - and you too. Throwing decorum into the wind, you grab your wife and pull her to you. You kiss her squarely on the lips in plain view of everyone at the party.
The dance floor erupts in applause and laughter. As you push away you can tell your wife is soundly embarrassed. A male guest hollers, "Wild, baby!" and pats her on the tush. Her blush deepens. Lorraine, hoots, "I wish I could get my husband to do that," as Marty tosses a canapé at her from across the room. Quickly however, the group realizes that your wife may not be amused.
An anxious quiet fills the room until only the clear whisper of Hendricks’s voice is audible. Your wife's stare is intense, her face is still red, and her lips are pursed. Trying to escape, you grin sweetly, even apologetically. At first to no avail but then her apparent anger softens. Her lips curl slowly into a full smile. The crowd recognizes her signal, and the dancing resumes. Realizing you are off the hook, you can't wait to try it again -- only this time when no one's around!