The Band Wagon

The Band Wagon


The Band Wagon is Ben’s favorite Astaire movie. He never tires of watching it, especially the Dem Bones Cafe sequence: all these black suited gangsters prancing through the entrance into their criminal den in a cascade of edgy moves make Ben’s eyes twinkle; his little body starts jerking, echoing the abrupt motions of the dancers.

“Mommy, look, bandits!”

For Ben this is the climax of The Band Wagon. After Fred Astaire, aka tough private detective in a white suit, infiltrates the Dem Bones Cafe under a disguise of pulled down hat and gangster dancing steps and promptly thrusts his gun at a bunch of unwelcoming patrons, my four-year-old son relaxes into a quiet observation of the passionate choreographic encounter between Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, aka the femme fatale in a killing red dress. Heat rises, sparkles fly, every movement is charged like a thunderbolt, but Ben is not overly impressed.

He perks up when the dance progresses to shooting, culminating in a miniature explosion, but even this exciting development cannot compare with his favorite dance.

“Mommy, I want bandits!”

This persistent demand for gangster choreography doesn’t mean that Ben hasn’t seen The Band Wagon in its entirety tens of times, same as Easter Parade, Royal Wedding and The Pirate (with Gene Kelly, for a change). My parent’s heart swells with pride and melts with pleasure: the child is exposed to classics, and not just classics, but my favorite classics, and not just exposed -- he adores it.

The first time Ben extracts his toys out of the drawer and smashes them into the floor, I don’t pay much attention to this new behavioral pattern. The child is upset; things happen. But when a few days later Ben returns to this smashing ritual, an unwelcome suspicion creeps into my bewildered mind.

“Stop this,” I say. “Where have you got this from? Have you ever seen anybody behaving this way?”

Ben doesn’t answer, but the determined expression of his face coupled with emphatic stamping of his tiny feet over the fallen toys seem vaguely familiar. Then it comes to me, in a flash -- The Band Wagon, the scene where infuriated Fred Astaire takes out his vinyls and smashes precious black disks into polygonal musical wreckage.

“Stop this, Ben! You shouldn’t copy Fred stamping on his vinyls! It’s wrong to smash things when you’re angry. It doesn’t help.”

I feel tempted to smash something myself. The DVD of The Band Wagon? Classics, shmasics. Look where it got me.

“Stop this, Ben, or you’ll never see the bandits’ dance again!”

Ben ponders my threat for an instant, then reluctantly ceases his stamping spree. I sigh. I doubt I could ever harm The Band Wagon DVD -- I love this movie too much.

Irena Pasvinter


Irena Pasvinter divides her time between software engineering, endless family duties and writing poetry and fiction. Her stories and poems have appeared in online and print magazines (Every Day Fiction, Bartleby Snopes, Fabula Argentea, Fiction 365 and many others). Her poem "Psalm 3.14159..." has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is currently working on her first novel. Visit Irena at




  1. What an adorable lesson in the unexpected when parenting!!

  2. This was adorable, Irena! I can totally picture the entire scenario in my mind. Can feel the conflicting emotions. Made me smile.
    PS ... You write in English as if it's your first language

  3. This is a lively story! Bravo!

  4. This is a lively story! Bravo!

  5. I love this, Irena! Very well and convincingly written!

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