May I Have This Dance?

Barnaby limo cropped 2

When I hear wheels spinning, a grinding sound, and the voices of little boys, I have a Pavlovian reaction — I turn my head and think it’s my own skateboarding child.  Only it isn’t.  Not for many years now.   I knew all the terminology.  Doing an ollie.  When I took Barnaby to New York, he ollied off of all the Lincoln Center stairs. There’s a kickflip, a nosegrind.   Barnaby spent most days at various skate parks on the halfpipe, mega ramp or quarter pipe.   On trips, I might pick up a new deck for him as a gift.  But then he would still need the hardware, like the trucks and wheels.  The joke in our family about Barnaby’s physical activity and fearlessness was that he wasn’t from our family, nervous, not-too-sporty Jews, but from the Winter family (gentile).  The Winter kids don’t think twice about jumping off high rocks into water many feet below (or sometimes no water) as only one example.

Each September, for several years, we were lucky enough to score four tickets to the Emmy awards.  We have five kids, so the ones interested, took turns dressing up in their finest and joining us that night.   It was always exciting, and one year, it was my step-daughter Emma and Barnaby’s turn—to go with Michael (nominated twenty years in a row—not one win) and me.   Barnaby, twelve, but looking nine, spent the whole morning out with friends skateboarding, coming back just in the nick of time, that board grinding to a halt in front of the house, Barnaby drenched in sweat.  He took a quick shower and put on a suit and was fully out of character.  And yet, totally thrilled by the limo ride.

Me, Barnaby, Emma and Michael going to Emmy's

Me, Barnaby, Emma and Michael going to Emmy’s

We packed little snacks in my way-too-small purse and stuffed more of them inside of Michael’s tuxedo pockets.  And off we went.  It sounds very glamorous but it’s a long-ass, hot day.  Actual food, as in dinner, doesn’t happen until the end of the three-hour event which often lasts a hell of a lot longer than three hours.  Barnaby sat up straighter when the Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program category was announced, trying his hardest to will his stepdad to win.  He assumed he was the lucky charm Michael had needed all these years.

We all kept noticing the actress Alicia Silverstone who had gone under the radar for a long time.  Here she is, looking stunning and sophisticated.  It’s almost as if she weren’t the same actress from “Clueless,” though she was cute enough then.  Now, she’s the prettiest girl at the ball.  We could not take our eyes off of her.  Especially Barnaby.

Now, famished, we were at the Governor’s Ball enjoying the free food made for hundreds.   Food when it’s prepared for that many people kind of freaks me out, even if the chef is Wolfgang Puck.  As a lark, we dared Barnaby to go and ask Alicia Silverstone to dance.  He went missing for a long time.  He had gone over, looked way up into the beautiful actress’s eyes and asked her for the first dance.  It’s not like it’s a big dancing night, by the way.  She looked down, way down at him and said that she would love to but that he should wait because she needed to eat first.  Instead of saying he would come back, he just sat there at her table, politely– not saying a word– until she finished her meal.  He was not going to miss out on this opportunity.  And in case you’re thinking it, no she didn’t chew her food up and spit it back into Barnaby’s mouth.   They stood up and had a quick “slow” dance – Barnaby’s head not much higher than her waist, one of the few couples on the dance floor.  Fabulous moment.  Later, he made a point of returning to her table to say good-bye.  She introduced him to her friends, saying more men should be straightforward like this gentleman – it’s what she is looking for in a man.  I hope she found that man.

Me and the fearless one, Barnaby, AKA BB the jerk

Me and the fearless one, Barnaby, AKA BB the jerk

If you would like to see just how fearless Barnaby is, watch for him in the first two episodes of X Factor, airing tonight, September 11th and tomorrow night, September 12, 2013.  He is the white rapper from the group, Wild Thingz.  I will be watching and snacking on raw Almonds,  Cashews and Brazilian nuts which incidentally I would also carry in my small purse when I went to the Emmy awards.  I’m his mom, I watched and they didn’t show him.  I’ll check again next week.  Now scroll down to a video of an original Wild Thingz song!!  Okay, updating this.  Last night they passed the Wild Thingz, Barnaby’s group to the next round!!!  Way to go Barnaby, AKA BB!!!

Barnaby, AKA BB the jerk with Wild Thingz performing last weekend at Avalon Hotel

Barnaby, AKA BB the jerk with Wild Thingz performing last weekend at Avalon Hotel


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14 Responses to “May I Have This Dance?”

  1. pauli says:

    Nominated 20 times???!!! That is SOOOOOO cool.
    Love that you love Barnaby in such a free and supportive way.
    He has the best Mom. And I will definitely root for him on the X Factor!!

  2. Mel says:

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Thank you for writing this ~ Alicia Silverstone is SO darling! Have you not seen her cookbook!? : ) That is very cool, btw to be nominated 20 times!!

  3. libbie aroff-lane says:

    Loved!!!! Oh Talented family xx Cann’t wait to see my godson is. Go Barnaby !!!!

  4. libbie aroff-lane says:

    Loved!!!! Oh Talented family xx Can’t wait to see my godson . Go Barnaby !!!!

  5. Hoov says:

    Proud wakko. ‘. Still remember skate boarding and jake still can and does when people allow it. Further Pali , Kenner school and every side walk from
    Hollywood to state beach for me. Bb is now just rocking like he did that night long ago and will remember until he passes. Great mem for both of you! Great read and write aloha hoov

  6. Hoov says:

    Congrats Michael.

  7. Laura Plotkin says:

    Loved this piece…you guys sure had a lot of fun (and still do)!

  8. Doreen Ringer Ross says:

    Smiled from one end to the other. Love your totally humorous self awareness….. “nervous, not-too-sporty Jews” “12 but looked 9”. So frigging endearing. Great writing and wonderful story and can’t wait to watch Barnaby on TV tonight!!

  9. Mumy says:

    Another hit, Ms. Duke. I felt like I just watched a good movie. Thank you, kindly.

    I remain,
    Your Mumy

    20 years in a row?! Wow!

  10. robin says:

    I love that he just sat there and waited.
    and grateful that she didn’t regurgitate…
    love your writing, blah blah blah.
    but really. I do.

  11. Valentina says:

    Another sweet story! My David took our Kit to the Academy Awards when she was 14… she was the envy of all her friends. But they didn’t bring snacks along and were both ravenous by the time the show ended and they got back to the hotel!

  12. Debbie Schellenberg says:

    OMG Fredde…PLEASE write a book! You are a complete riot and fabulous!!!


  13. eileen mumy says:

    Your stories jump off the page…….the alphbet deserves YOU.

  14. Grant Onnie says:

    Now we’re talking. Great story, vivid writing, so alive!

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