94. Dancing Lessons


My goal for this year is to hit 100 posts. I believe I will make it, but not if I allow apathy to grow under my fingers. Gary at church said he posted five articles on his blog about medical issues in one week. Well Gary, uh, that’s awesome and all, but I can’t put out irrational stuff with no supporting research as fast as you can run a cardiac rehab lab over there. Okay? Being random and eccenctric takes time and inspiration and unusual weather patterns. Take tonight for instance. I am sitting down to blog after a day of church, exercise, cutting grass, cleaning the garage, and doing laundry. My hands still smell of bleach from washing two pairs of sports shoes. I mean, I’ve been on it today. And yet, there is that still small voice that calls me to blog on. I realize that the weight of Blog Nation is on my shoulders tonight, and so with heavy wrists and a penchant for exaggeration I blog forward.

Alright, my wife and I have been taking dance lessons again. This is the third set of classes, I believe. It began several years ago when she signed us up for ballroom dance lessons in a nearby town on Friday nights. We dutifully showed up to each class and tried to pay attention. We even practiced at home. However, we never went out and danced, put the rubber on the road, so to say. Learning without application does not last. If you only iceskate or ski once for an hour, do you really know how to skate or ski? Unlikely.

The next set of lessons had to do with swing dancing. That was just last year. Our local boy wonder offered classes on Thursday nights at the recreation center. We dutifully attended and tried to pay attention again. There were not enough guys to go around, so we shared guys. I had to dance with all the girls and women until I got my wife back. It’s awkward doing something incompetently with anyone. Plus, it is universally known that women learn dance steps faster than men for some reason…probably because they are women and must pretend to need men to follow when the whole time they are the ones who wanted to dance in the first place and know all the steps. So why do they pretend to follow?

Unfortunately, the boy wonder procured free passes to a swing dance place in nearby Carlisle, and I had to go. I could not excuse myself since I had just completed eight weeks of lessons. Drat! It was nerve wracking. Another lesson was given prior to the class. Again, not enough guys so we all shared and moved round the circle of partners.

Now these swing dancers are younger and more energized and talented, better looking and vibrant in general when compared to folks in my demographic. Once the real dancing started, I felt like I was under water watching the fast land creatures frolicking madly above me. I moved in quicksand that slowly turned to concrete. The small room heated up. I sat out as many dances as I could, hoping for time to fly ahead. No chance. I was called upon to dance repeatedly, as my hips fired up arthritically and my lower back cried out for relief. God heard my anguish and we left after an hour and a half of dancing, not including the one hour lesson.

My wife had so much fun that she has dragged me back there several times since. I get anxious just thinking about it. The place is called The Green Door. It’s torture, people. “Rock step triple step” goes on and on in my brain and then I know I must do some other move every so many rounds or else I’ll expose my flagrant incompetence. So I mix in some of my other moves and lose count or rhythm or both. I get jammed up and marvel at the youthful exuberance that surrounds me on all sides. Those kids can boogie and glide and pop and wiggle. Meanwhile, I am pounding mental nails in my brain, “Rock step triple step”, “Turn the girl”, “Belt loop”, “Cuddle”, and reverse each move. It’s overwhelming for a guy who can only juggle one apple at a time.

Now we are taking all sorts of dance lessons from Colonel Frank. He’s retired Army and barks out the steps like drill orders, which I appreciate. And now we are doing the tango, which I actually like and feel comfortable doing. I have not progressed to dancing with a flower in my mouth, but I can remember and do the simple steps involved. Hallelujah! We have revisited Swing, which is much simpler now, the Cha Cha, the Foxtrot, and waltz. Miracles are exploding around us each Saturday night. For whatever reason it’s sticking. My brain is processing music, movement, counting, and social cues all at the same time.

Perhaps it’s because Colonel Frank takes charge through orders and cajoling. “Why do we do the Tango in a counterclockwise rotation?” After several feeble answers he asserts, “No one knows.” Then “What happens if you miscount your steps in the cha-cha?”  Answer, “You’re screwed!”  “Why do you move your hips in the Latin dances, men?”  “Because it is sexy”, assures Col. Frank. “Sir, yes sir.” Finally, a teacher who gets it. He knows that men are simple and take more time to train.

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