Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wife Rule #8: Dancing is Better With the Stars

I always hated dances.

But I liked girls.

So for most of my adolescence, I was stuck in a tortured existence. I went to most of the school dances, because there was always a big group, and there was dinner, and the obligatory after-dance activities to drain time away. And even at the dance, the ceremonial taking of the group picture--with a little skill--could easily be stretched out to well over half of the time we were there. So school dances were palatable, but barely.

I tended to avoid most of the church dances, because they didn't involve formally asking a girl on a date. This meant that none of the non-dance distractions were there, and that meant that there wasn't much to do except, well, dance.

I thought the problem was that I didn't really like most dance music. It just didn't do anything for me. Instead of energizing me into an involuntary rhythmic frenzy like it seemed to do to everybody else around me, it sapped my energy, turning me into a drooping wall-flower, slumped deep down into an uncomfortable folding chair, if one was available. If not, I might sag all the way to the floor and start drooling or whatever.

It was even worse if I was at a dance with a date, because she might actually expect me to dance. So I had no choice, but to stand out in the middle the dance floor, absolutely everyone's eyes on me, I was sure, and look like a total lurp. I'm sure my over-excited self-consciousness caused my shoulders to droop and my back to slouch, sort of self-fulfilling my greatest fears when dancing of looking like an uncoordinated, gangly, pencil-necked, pimple-faced teenage boy with a nerve disorder.

So I would try to cope by playing it safe with the famous two-foot lurch, back and forth. My arms never knew what to do. Sometimes they might raise themselves up, rodent-like with my hands curled forward, in some psychotic attempt to turn my lurpy lurch into the happy hamster hop. But let's be realistic--no matter how out of touch with reality I might have been as a teenager, even I knew that looked stupid. So the safest option seemed to be to let my arms hang down, rigidly, lest any unintentional movement might draw more attention to myself.

Thus, I hated dancing. Sure, I had seen the TV shows and the movies, the parts where the happy couple dances together and the whole world seems to melt away into a slow-motion type of love montage. They look into each other's eyes deeply, spinning in paradise, and suddenly they are riding away into the sunset (still in slow motion) on the back of a horse, her dainty hands wrapping around his manly torso and firmly gripping his chiseled abs. I knew what was supposed to happen.

But it never quite worked out that way for me. My dancing experiences involved slow-motion spinning, but instead of ending up on horses, I was always in the center of a room full of evil clowns, which were cackling and pointing at me as I slowly melted into a puddle of Cream of Wheat on the floor.

Until I started dancing with my wife. She loves dancing, and I love her, so we did it often. We even took a couple of ballroom dance classes together in college. I won't lie--it took some time, but soon, dancing with her was just like on TV. When we would dance together the world would sort of fade away, pointing evil clowns and all, and it was just the two of us, spinning in paradise. I finally realized that for me, the music didn't have that much to do with it after all. It just took finding the right partner, the one who could put stars in my eyes, for the magic to happen.

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