This is my “NOT-TOO-LONG-STORY” about sports from a previous post and pardon the derogatory term but this is exactly what was said:

My athletic preferences have always gone towards the NON-standard.  I fenced against the US Olympic team for practice, taught Ballet, Jazz, Tap and character dance, choreographed for various events in Upstate New York, was a Women’s Gymnastics coach and trainer and was teaching Tae Kwon Do.  I was 18? 19?  My “buddies” from the block were about a year or so behind me so I was doing this in college while they were finishing High School.  Home for a visit once one asked me: “Barry, do you ‘par-ti-ci-pate’ in sports?” (and he pronounced “participate” like it was a newly learned power word”).  I said “not like you would be familiar with” (KNOWING they meant basketball, baseball and football)….really NOT trying to be flip or a jerk, just that they had limited understanding of the OTHER athletic arts.  The guy that asked then said “Then you a faggot!”

I asked him: “Soooooo—–if I do not ‘par-ti-ci-pate’ in basketball, baseball or football, thennnnnn………..”? He replied: “YES, you a “FAGGOT“.

OK…works for me!  You know the “some of my BEST friends are…”?  I named my first son after my ballet teacher, Vergiu Cornea.  I practiced my German and Russian with him. This was a man who was commanded to dance for Joseph Goebbels and escaped Nazi Germany when he saw the Gestapo “make his neighbor disappear” in the middle of the night….and they were coming closer.  A man of deep faith, moral conviction and great strength of character and spirit……He was SUCH an inspiration that I felt proud to be one of his pupils.  He would sometimes say that I was not his BEST dancer, but his most promising.

Vergiu Cornea

Vergiu was from Romania….the largest province in Romania is Transylvania.  He often joked (IMAGINE Dracula speaking, no kidding and I LOVED his dialect!: “Bearrrry, 2 bad things happened to America on December 7th, Pearl Harbor and me…..”

His birthday was December 7th, 1914, as opposed to 1941

An American in Paris

This is OBVIOUSLY Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.  The dance troupe was actually Vergiu’s though in the credits they are called “the American in Paris dance company” (or words to that effect).  Vergiu appears at the end of the main dance number in a BIG-OLE turban and flowing robe.

Vergiu in center of the frame

This took some time to find and screenshot but Vergiu IS worth it :~).  He does make a small “duet/cameo” with Mr. Kelly earlier in the dance sequence.

He would tell me about dancing with Ms. Caron while waiting for Mr. Kelly to—ummmm, “recover” from each evening’s “festivities” (with PLENTY of black coffee…..).  Vergiu LOVED her flexibility (she would learn her lines in a standing split against a wall).

Vergiu ADORED her as a dancer
They liked it SO much they left in in the movie

When he retired in 1978 I took over teaching his classes. I was 20 and managed to keep his program going WHILE tending to my own collegiate activities. He had gotten ill over the previous Christmas break and could not continue.  Rather than lose the program….

Vergiu sauntered into the studio one day after he was feeling better….Dressed in a white suit, shades and a walking stick…he was CLEAN and SMOOTH!

Okay, not too SHORT a story.

Danke, meine lieber freund

Rest easy, Vergiu. You have earned it many times over

About BarryFN

Native New Yorker, Catholic school and private college educated, Veteran of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy. Sailor, Pilot, Instructor, parent and gatherer of information.

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