I cannot dance.
I can play the piano, I can maintain a beat. I’ve always wanted to dance. To glide and shimmy and groove. Watching Glee makes me want to jump up and move. I imagine myself gyrating like a wild woman, my hair in a tussle. But it is not to be.
In 4th grade, our cool teacher with her flared pants that completely covered her shoes, pulled out a record player on occasion and we’d all dance. My dance form was of the tapping the foot variety, my hip moving a millimeter at best on the off-beat. Mostly, I stood in place.
Rewind to the age of 6 or 7 when my mom signed me up for ballet lessons. As a toe walker, I should have been a natural. I still recall being on the floor, folded over, instructed to unfold gracefully like a blossoming flower. I don’t recall ever dancing on my toes. All I know is I didn’t want to do it anymore and quit after 1—maybe 2—lessons.
There was dance in junior high and/or high school. It was part of gym class, of all things! We learned square dancing. Then the Hustle. Move over, John Travolta!
In high school, I dreamed of being in the Swing Choir. The 1980’s equivalent of Glee. I was, admittedly, a bit of a nerd. A stick figure with braces. I bravely auditioned in the music room in front of the music teacher and a couple of senior Swing Choir members. I don’t think I even practiced the moves before hand. The look on one guy’s face is burned into my brain. A sideways glance, eyebrow raised. He was either in shock or trying not to laugh. I was selected to accompany the ‘cool’ dancers, dressed in their all white get-ups. On the piano. I did make Madrigals, which required no dancing and solidified my so-not-cool ranking at the school.
I was never asked to Homecoming or Prom, although I went stag with a friend one year as a way to rebel. We got loaded on cheap wine, which I drank as fast as possible out of a McDonald’s cup while my friend drove. From a straw, no less. The only dancing I did was with the toilet in the girls room while I hurled into it.
With college there were frat parties and music and lots of dancing. I drank enough to muddle my way through it. Nobody ever told me I was a great dancer, nor anything to the contrary. It wasn’t until years later that I learned my dancing techniques were perfect Elaine Benice form. As in Elaine from Seinfeld. In case you’re wondering, that is the furthest thing from a complement. It involves jerking around as if being poked with a stick, thumbs up, occasionally kicking out a foot at an odd angle and/or snapping and tossing your head. Quite similar to convulsions. Who told me that I dance like Elaine? Oh, my husband of course.
I danced at our wedding, though. Maybe it was after we were married that he broke the news.
When my son was little, I had no inhibitions about dancing around the house with him. He was non-judgmental. And it was fun.
At one point, a few years ago, a hip mama in the neighborhood agreed to teach some dance moves to a few of us more reserved moms. None of the moves stuck with me. To this day, every time a dancing opportunity arises, my body just falls into Elaine mode by default.
Give me a few drinks and… I’ll trip over myself. That’s as good as it will get. I’m 47 and have come to accept it. Call me boring. Tell me to just have fun and that nobody cares what I look like when I dance. I won’t listen.
As an experiment, I posted on my facebook status: “OMG! Just got picked for the next DWTS!”
Why did I do that? I wanted to see if my facebook page was working. Hardly anyone had responded to my posts about the 15 million Americans whose water will be threatened if fracking is allowed in Delaware. I was convinced people would be aghast and comment or at least click like. This was happening in America—in our own backyard. But no. It got 1 or 2 likes. Maybe a comment.
Yet, one hour after posting about DWTS, 26 people clicked like and more than 20 have commented. Apparently my facebook page is working just fine. Now I have to break the news that not only was I not picked for the next DWTS—which everyone knows stands for Dancing With the Stars—I can’t even f**king dance if my life depended on it!
Thanks to all who are so excited for me and DWTS. It’s not gonna happen. Not only will I lose, I will not even appear on the show. In fact, I have never watched the show. False alarm!
P.S. If you see me holding up a wall at a party, please don’t try to pull me out to the dance floor. I know, I’ve heard it a gazillion times—nobody cares what I look like, I’m just supposed to have fun and let loose. But I’d rather you think I’m a stick-in-the-mud than have you witness my startling spasmatic ‘dance’ moves.
* Originally published on my blog, Putting It Out There.