I take Frank on to the dance floor, my left hand on his shoulder, my right holding his hand. Music is a simple waltz, but I see he doesn’t know the steps. I demonstrate and count it out for him, slowing it down and showing him where to take the turn. He struggles and is about to give up. “Let me switch my hand to a lead position,” I say, and I move my hand from his shoulder to his waist. With my strong lead, now he gets it and we dance the waltz together.
I weave through the crowd to get something to eat, and realize I’m alone. Decide not to let that stop me. I see the bagels and salad buffet and try to get my bagel on the grill to toast, but it is falling apart. Jim makes light of my awkwardness and encourages me to keep trying to get the bagel right. I see lettuce, tomato and cheese but not the protein I need. I will make do. A table near the front of the room, near the stage, has empty seats, so I make my way there. As I put my plate of food down, the women tell me the seats are disengaged so I can’t sit there.
“Disengaged? That means no one is here and I can use the spot.”
“No, you can’t sit there, it’s disengaged.”
A woman sitting near the stage pipes in, insisting all the empty seats are disengaged so I can’t use them. I continue to protest that “disengaged” means no one is using them. I try to think of an analogy, to explain it to them.
“It’s like saying someone is engaged to be married. That means they are taken, occupied. Disengaged means available.”
They refuse to agree and I give up, saying that it’s a linguistic puzzle and how interesting how the language evolves. I look for a seat elsewhere, where I will be welcomed.