Good morning. Hopefully, I can get my thoughts down on the page, here, in some sort of cohesive manner- I slept fitfully last night, with a stuffed up nose that kept changing sides, and a rotten headache, to boot. I finally got up fifteen minutes before my alarm went off and used my new espresso maker for the first time…so, I am exhausted, over-caffeinated, and loopy. This ought to be entertaining, at the very least.
One of the things that has fascinated me since I first began to notice it, is the weird way you can divvy people up into two groups when it comes to certain things. For instance, there are mustard people, and mayonnaise people-not all of them are hard core, but if forced to pick one or the other, there is a clear division. There are Coke and Pepsi people. Furthermore, there are Coke and Diet Coke people, and there is a whole subgroup of Dr.Pepper people. (Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that when you tell a Dr.Pepper person that his drink of choice is not available, they almost unfailingly will then ask “Do you have Root Beer?”. I am not making this up-ask any waiter or waitress if this is the case, and they will tell you it is.) There are dog people and cat people, night owls and early birds, readers and illiterates (Kidding!), and there are dancers, and those who do not dance.
I am a mayonnaise eater, Coke drinker, cat person (sorry Lucy, I love you, I do), early bird, reading non-dancer. I can give you pretty simple explanations as to why I am most of those things, but I can’t tell you why I don’t dance.
Because the thing is, I really, really WANT to dance, when I am out and about and other people are doing it. Gosh, it looks like so much fun, and people nearly always smile when they dance, as if there is nothing else in the world they would rather be doing. There is nothing more amazing than watching a great dancer do their thing…like, seriously, Chris Brown? Yeah, I know he’s got some issues with anger, but put that aside for a moment, if you can, and watch the dancing…I mean, how in heck does his body move like that, and with apparent ease, a perfect expression of joy? And Justin Timberlake? I mean, c’mon, there goes the whole myth about white dudes and rhythm, for sure.
But I’m not even really talking about people like that, that are professionals, famous, polished, trained. I’m talking about just every day normal people who, when they get on the dance floor, become this other thing, totally into the music, unaware of the world around them and totally unconcerned with the crowd. Wow, I admire them so freaking much, and I am envious, I really am.
You know who I am even more envious of , kinda? The dancers who get out there and are just as into it as the people around them that are great, only these dancers just suck, bad. Only, they could give a shit less, because for them, it’s not about being great or impressing anyone, it’s about having a wonderful time. I suspect that some of them may have no idea that they are really bad dancers, that in their own minds, they are on fire, but no way every last bad dancer I’ve seen is completely in the dark. They just don’t care.
I am not brave enough to fall into either of these categories, and it is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I don’t think I am really a terrible dancer- I won’t dance in public, but I assure you, I have done plenty of it in the privacy of my own home- mostly alone, but sometimes with friends or my older daughter, and they didn’t seem horrified or embarrassed for me. I’ll admit, I’ve danced in front of a mirror or two, and I’m alright.
Yet get me out in public, and I start hyperventilating the minute I start to sense that people in my group may be wanting to dance…because, inevitably, one of my girlfriends eyes will light up at the start of “her song”, she’ll grab my hand, and say “Oh my gosh, we HAVE to dance.” And I am always the killjoy that is all, “Um, NO, we don’t…you go.”. And on it goes, her begging, pleading, bargaining, me digging my heels in and finally exclaiming that I have explosive diarrhea as I high tail it to the ladies room. When I come back, my friend has found another friend to dance with, and I sit and watch, wishing I was out there, too.
It’s so funny, because I am an extrovert in every way but that one. If you were to ask someone else to describe me, self-confident would most likely be in the top three. But when it comes to dancing, I am the eternal seventh grade girl, terrified of being asked, of not being asked, and of all of the people in motion around me, who are clearly better people than I. I feel like my inability to enjoy dancing is the peep-hole into the secret, rotten truth about how insecure I really must be, and it’s impossible to hide when there is music and a crowd.
Twice in my life, I have danced joyfully in public. The first time was at a country-western bar that I sneaked into with a fake ID when I was twenty. I don’t remember much about the night, aside from learning why it’s never a good idea to take your whole paycheck with you into a bar, and that I danced. The boy who asked me was big and ungainly, and he had big sweat rings under his arms, but he seemed nice and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I told him I didn’t know how, and he said “That’s ok, I’ll help you.” And this big old ungainly dude literally swept me off my feet. I don’t think my feet touched the ground, he whirled me and swung me and, somehow, his grace rubbed off on me. I will never forget that night. Well, that part, anyway.
And the last time…the last time was at my boyfriends brother’s wedding, and everyone was having so much fun. My daughter wanted to dance so badly she was barely sitting in her chair. “Go!” I told her. “But I’m scared.” She said. I saw that longing misery in her eyes, and when I told her not to be afraid, I knew I was in big trouble. How could I ask this of her and yet refuse to be an example? So I took her hand, and out we went onto the dance floor, and we danced as if there was no one else in the world. It is one of my happiest memories, and for her, I’d do it again. I never want her to look back at her life and wish she’d just gone ahead and danced…like I do, sometimes.