Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It’s The Only Dance There Is, So Dance, Dance, Dance

               It’s The Only Dance There Is, So Dance, Dance, Dance
            Seventh Grade. 1957. I don’t know why I went to our first junior high dance. I couldn’t dance, not even a two-step. Didn’t know how. We were all “expected” to go and most of us showed up. For me, the experience felt like I imagined showing up for the guillotine. I knew more about Marie Antoinette than I knew about the waltz. 

The dance was held in “the pit” at the old grade school. The pit had a gym floor, a raised walk around area, and perhaps once was used for little guys’ phys ed. At that time, the pit was most often used for punishment. “Trouble in the classroom—go sit in the pit and think about your sins.” Teachers back then could talk that way.

Cookies. Kool-Aid and canned juice punch. Twisted crepe-paper streamers. Girls sat in folding chairs along one wall. Boys stood along the other and punched each other. An excruciating affair.

Those lucky students with older brothers and sisters to teach them, eventually managed to stumble across the polished abyss, select a partner, and dance, mostly to music of the ‘40’s but one current tune I recall was “Purple People Eater”. “Dance” was generally two-step and jitter-bug.

A couple students in my class were Latter Day Saints. Their church had social nights. Those two could whirl. They were the envy of, well, of me. And Tony made the rounds, generously making sure every girl had a chance on the floor. I watched how gracefully he and Linda moved. I wanted to go home.

When Tony stood before me and asked me to dance, I mumbled, “I can’t.” He said, “That’s okay. I’ll help you.” I shook my head, eyes shiny with tears of fear and humiliation. Tony went on to some other partner.

A few minutes later Jerry sat in a vacant chair next to me. “You should have danced with Tony. It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance. That’s why we are here, to learn.” I don’t know how Jerry got so smart. “Always say ‘yes’. He’ll never ask you to dance again.”

Tears spilled out and rolled down my cheeks. Of course, Jerry was right. Tony never asked me to dance again.

That year or the next, I’m not sure, a young couple at CYC (Catholic Youth Council), after religious classes and cookies, taught us to dance on the concrete floor of the dining area of the St. Thomas Church basement. I’m forever grateful.

Fortunately for me, I took Jerry’s words to heart and applied them. If life is the dance, then I’m either sitting in the bleachers pretending to be wallpaper or I’m out on the dance floor.

I’ll admit, there are times to flit down the hall to the Lady’s Room. Not all dances are a waltz. Unfortunately, knowing when to dance and when to sit one out comes with time and experience. Time happens without our input. Experience comes with saying “yes”. My feet have been stomped flat but I don’t regret having had any particular dance. I learned.

Whether “good”, “bad” or “indifferent”, I learn something each time I stand up and walk out onto the dance floor.

Some days I learn that I say “yes” to too many dances and blister my feet. Take today, for instance. I begin my day with Qi Gong. Then I had to water all my flowers and trees, takes two to three hours.  I should have watered half of them yesterday, but I had chosen to go over the mountains to explore the city of Ameca with friends.

Raspberries are simmering on the stove for jam. My pineapple, which is perfect today, might turn to either wine or vinegar tomorrow if I don’t get it prepped to make empanadas. I planned to go to the parade in town this afternoon. And to movie night at my friend’s home this evening. It is mid-afternoon and I haven’t eaten yet. Help!

I still have my Spanish on-line class to attend. Oh, oh. Leo just brought me two kilos of English peas from the market. He knows I like fresh peas. Peas are rare in our market. I have to shell and blanch them to pop into my freezer. Help!

Some dances I should sit out and watch other’s twirl. Today the music seemed to be controlled by a manic whirling dervish.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

December 15, 2016

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