I began thinking about floors a few days ago. Lord! Don’t ask me why such stuff comes into my head.  It just does. And this is what came of that thinking.

I’ll just start with the word: floor. A benign word, as words go.  Usually a noun and we most immediately think of it in reference to the base of a room or the lower inside surface of a hollow structure such as a cave or a body part (like the floor of your mouth).  When we talk about the ocean floor we mean a ground surface but when we talk about the stories of a building we are referring to the structures that divide the building – first floor, second floor, third floor, and so on. Yet bridges also have floors and they aren’t on the ground.

Floor is also used as a verb like when a room is floored. Or when a vehicle is accelerated rapidly as in “he floored the sports car”.  My favorite verb usage is the literal meaning of floored as in “to knock or bring down” and even better when someone is floored – as in flabbergasted or dumbfounded.

And how about all the ways we use this simple word: floor lamp, floor length, floor manager, floor plan, and floor show – just for starters? And we also talk about “getting in on the ground floor”; “being on the cutting room floor”; “keeping our feet on the floor”; “having the floor”, “holding the floor”; “being floored by a punch or a statement”.  I have personally “cut a rug” on a few “dance floors”.  I also connect with the floor each morning when I do yoga – or some might just call it “floor exercise”.

And speaking of floor exercise I recently read that a floor is THE best exercise tool and each one of us it has it conveniently at our disposal.  Getting down to the floor and getting up from the floor is very good exercise in itself.  If you don’t think so just try getting down to the floor and getting back up about ten times right now. See what I mean? Jon Kabat-Zin, a famous professor of medicine, author, and meditation teacher says: “Just getting down on the floor for a while…..can change your whole orientation toward the moment and the day and what is transpiring.”  I happen to think he’s right.

I know a story I could tell you about the time I saw someone floored – literally. As in knocked down to the floor. It was a terrible sight to behold. That someone went flying up and then backward into the air where they hit a wall and then slid unceremoniously to the floor like a wet dish rag thrown into a sink. But that is a long sad story best left untold here. Let me just say that when I hear “he was floored” this is a picture that flashes through my mind.

Fortunately, other happier things regarding floors also came to mind during my pondering – in particular a favorite story often told in our family. Sometime in the late 1940’s not long after WWII had ended my parents along with my aunt and uncle went out for an evening of fun. None of them were married at that point in time. They were young and had survived the Great Depression and a terrible war. Celebration was in the air. On that happy night my daddy and my Aunt Nellie (my mama’s sister) stepped onto the dance floor of a nightclub and began doing a popular dance of that era -the jitterbug. Apparently they were pretty good or perhaps they were just performing with gusto because a crowd gathered around them and threw money as they danced. Only pennies, of course, but a penny was certainly worth more back in those days and so Daddy and Aunt Nellie stopped to pick up every coin before they left the dance floor laughing.

My parents built a house of their own some time in the mid 1950’s. My mama was delighted with the new kitchen and all its new fangled appliances. But she was most proud of her oak hardwood floors, which were laid in every room of our house except for the kitchen. Mama took good care of them – dusting, cleaning, waxing and polishing them often. In the early years all that waxing and polishing was done by hand – my hands were likely as not the ones helping.  The polishing was the fun part because Mama turned it into a game that included my brother and me.  We each donned at least two pair of the thick woolen socks my daddy used when he went hunting. Then we started polishing those floors with our sock feet. It was slow going at first but eventually the wax smoothed out and we could get a good slide out of our efforts. The game was over when we could slide swiftly and easily for several feet all over the floor. At least one of us would fall down during the game but it didn’t matter. We just got up and kept going. Sometimes we just fell down laughing. It was the one chore that my brother and I never minded one bit.  After some years on a special occasion – birthday or Christmas, I forget which – my daddy bought my mama a floor buffer.  Such a gift doesn’t sound the least bit romantic but it entirely delighted my mama. My brother and I didn’t share her excitement because, well, it was a floor buffer, for one thing. And for another thing we figured it sort of ended our sock sliding fun. But then we discovered that when I was running the buffer my little brother could hop on for quite a ride. If Mama caught me giving my brother a ride she’d make me stop – claiming we might break her beloved floor buffer.  But let me tell you right now there was no way in the world we could have broken that monstrosity. It was all I could do to control such a powerful machine. It was a veritable tank.  That thing could spin brushes and pads over those floors and leave them gleaming in no time.

Now my mama’s floors were certainly beautiful and well maintained but they couldn’t hold a candle to my Aunt Mary’s floors. Aunt Mary lived in an older house that had wide floor boards that I think were pine. They were stained dark and varnished to a gleam.  Aunt Mary kept them glowing and spotless. When I tell you that you could practically see yourself in them I’m not kidding. They were amazing.  And they were the only floors that outshone my mama’s.  

When I was in middle school I was fortunate to take ballroom classes. As much fun as the classes were the highlight was the Ballroom Parties that our instructor hosted on a regular basis.  The parties took place in the Lions Club building in my hometown. That dance floor was one of THE best dance floors ever – whether it was a waltz, fox trot, cha-cha, bop, or a rousing polka. You could spin and glide as easily as a skater on ice. And Shagging on that floor was heaven. The only thing better is Shagging at the beach. For those of you who might not know – especially my British friends – the Shag is a DANCE (sorry if you had something else in mind) some refer to as the “Carolina Shag”. This dance originated in the South along the Atlantic Ocean during the 1940’s. Some believe its birthplace was Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina. Others believe the term was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. For sure it is a Carolina “thing”. And this Carolina girl loves to Shag.  There is nothing quite like doing the Shag at a beach pavilion with sand on the floor and salt in the air.

At the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh there is a beautifully preserved Roman mosaic floor panel from the 2nd Century AD. It is composed of various types of marble and glass. The design includes geometric and floral motifs and an endless knot design, all enclosed in a braided border. I have admired it on countless visits and the child in me wants to step on it – just because.  But, of course, it is just for looking at – not for standing on. On one visit the mosaic floor panel was not on display in its usual place. I asked a guard about it – thinking perhaps I had misremembered its placement. The guard told me that it was being cleaned because there had been a private event at the museum and one of the guests had spilled a glass of red wine on it. Lordamercy! I’m glad I wasn’t even at that gala event.  I can just imagine living that legend down – “did you know that Linda Griffin was at some froo-froo thing at the museum and she spilled her wine on that ancient mosaic floor?”  “No!”  “Yes, she did and the curator has had it removed for special cleaning – well, that is if they can even GET it clean. You know how red wine stains!!!”  Whew. Fortunately, the floor panel is back in place and looking none the worse for the wine spill.

But now I want to tell you a story about a kind of floor AND someone who got floored. My Aunt Dorothy nicely combined both of these categories. One sunny summer morning in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia my Aunt Dorothy was late into her eighth decade of life when she most unfortunately slipped on her kitchen floor, fell, and broke her hip. My uncle was not at home when it happened and, unable to get up, she laid on the floor for several hours before he returned. This predicament could have been a bad ending for a woman of her age but she proved to be her usual resilient self. After the doctors put her back together again she spent a few weeks in a rehabilitation facility and returned home as good as new. Once she was home I traveled to Virginia to visit her and found her as chipper as ever. I marveled aloud about her drastic accident and the dire circumstances that followed. I said, “Aunt Dorothy, I know you must have been scared lying there all that long time!” 

She replied, quite nonchalantly, “Not really.  It was a nice morning and there was a good breeze blowing. I was glad that I had opened the windows in the breakfast room and kitchen earlier.  The floor was nice and cool.  We had a new tile floor put down a few months ago and I hadn’t seen the pattern up close since I picked it out.  I had forgotten how pretty it was.  I was glad I chose the one with those little blue flowers.”  I could only smile at her serene perspective and nod in agreement. Although she had landed ON the floor I’m pretty sure she wasn’t floored – literally or figuratively.  I suppose this proves Jon Kabat-Zin’s point, doesn’t it?  “Just getting down on the floor for a while…..can change your whole orientation toward the moment and the day and what is transpiring.” 

14 Comments

  1. catterel says:

    You have amazing aunts! I did a double take at the sentence about shagging on the dance-floor – What! in prudish Carolina! Thank you for rapidly explaining what you meant. I must find out if that particular dance ever caught on in the UK, or if it acquired a new name there. And now I’m going to see if I can actually get up from the floor in a more graceful way than turning myself into a cow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this absolutely delightful response!!!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan Gordon says:

    I enjoyed your article. A little slow to start. I didn’t know where you were going but buy the shag you had my undivided attention. A very interesting and enjoyable read.
    Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose you don’t always need to know where you’re going to enjoy the journey. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  3. The Pantheon, in Rome, is about 1,900 years old and is remarkably well-preserved. It’s a magnificent building. I asked a worker there, when I was visiting, if the enormous marble floor — it’ has beautiful geometric patterns — was original or not. “Original,” she said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I’ll bet it got plenty of wine spilled on it! 🙂 Thanks for adding yet another floor story! And thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. quiall says:

    What a marvellous train of thought! I remember my mothers floor polisher, it was a tank!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for climbing aboard!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Judy Essick says:

    Love it! I can almost see you & Douglas slippin’ & slidin” & wrangling the buffer. And Aunt Dorothy’s perspective is a lesson for all. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL – visuals! 🙂 …..and, yes, Aunt Dorothy was one of a kind – such a study in joy.
      Thank you for your support, dear friend.

      Like

  6. interesting perspective, something we do not give much thought too.
    Am thrilled to hear that floor is the best exercise equipment at our disposal. Am going to try getting down and hopefully up more gracefully

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know how the getting down and back up went – hopefully both gracefully and smoothly! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      Like

  7. heimdalco says:

    So many NC memories in this post … like the Shag … WOW! And your Aunt Dorothy was a delight. Enjoyed this very much

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments and reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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