I've been looking at this photo for a couple of years now. I got it from some online site, but it's been too long and I don't remember where.
Miss Mascot. Mr. Johnson. Tango. 11-8-54.
The photo conjures up a story to me. It looks like it was taken in a high school gym for a school dance. Miss Mascot looks young, about 25. I see her as a second year English teacher. Mr. Johnson is older, about 40, blond or prematurely gray.
Hes a high school science teacher. He was almost finished with college when World War II started, so he enlisted, served in the Army Air Corps where he was an officer, part of the crew of a B-17 bomber.
He came home in 1945, got his degree and did his post-graduate work under the G.I. Bill. He got married to the girl he left behind when he went to war. They have two children, boys, age 8 and 6. Mrs. Johnson isn’t aware he’s doing the tango with Miss Mascot, because he doesn’t want her to know. She thinks he’s chaperoning the dance, but he and Miss Mascot have been seeing each other for a couple of months, and tonight is the night they’re going to consummate their affair. He has a room at the Bide A Wee Motel out on the highway. He and Miss Mascot will slip out of the dance early and go to the room for a couple of stolen hours.
Miss Mascot has had a couple of lovers already. Guys have been after her since she was in junior high school, but she’s only given herself to two, the president of the senior class in high school, and her college boyfriend. She was sure she’d marry him, but then the Korean War came along and he was drafted. He is back to civilian life now, but he is getting his master’s degree at a college a thousand miles away, and they haven’t spoken in over a year. She had been a bit bothered by it, wondering how they drifted apart. Then she met Mr. Johnson, who approached her in the faculty room on her first day and told her, “If you need any help or advice, just come to me. I've been in this place long enough I can probably answer any questions.” She was immediately taken by his deep voice, his smile, his blue eyes and wavy hair.
Mr. Johnson is a cad, though. He hasn't come right out and said it, but he’s hinted that his marriage is in trouble. In truth, his marriage isn’t in trouble, but it will be if his affair is found out. He’ll be in a lot of trouble at work, too. He knows these things, and they worry him. To the world he projects the image of a married father of two, living in the suburbs, mowing his lawn on Saturday, taking his family to church on Sunday. Little does the world know how much inner turmoil he’s been in since meeting Miss Mascot, wanting her more than he’s ever wanted another woman. He’s pushed the guilt and internal danger warnings aside. Just let me have this one night with her, he thinks. Then I’ll go back to my wife like nothing ever happened.
Miss Mascot, though, has other ideas. She’ll sleep with him. Lord knows she's been thinking of his hands caressing her, his lips kissing her all over her naked body, and she’s told herself, he loves me. When we make love he’ll know that he can’t go back to his wife. He’ll get a divorce. We’ll be together.
That night they dance the tango, a dance they have practiced during their free periods for the past two weeks. Her slim fingers are in his hands, and he thinks of her beneath him on a bed. At that moment, frozen in time by a student yearbook photographer, she thinks of him, a house in the suburbs, her future children with him.
Miss Mascot. Mr. Johnson. Tango.
On that November night in 1954 both of them are thinking, “Tonight’s the night.”