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Worldwide Ace » Just One Slowdance – Part II

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Just One Slowdance – Part II

13 February, 2009 (06:50) | Unlucky 13, Women

For context, read
Just One Slowdance – Part I

Image by Olga.

Being a wallflower isn’t an easy life, especially when you’ve botched the flower part as badly as I have. Realistically, I am to flowers what a monster truck are to sedans, and you can stick that in your SATs and cram it. Somehow I still find myself at dances and shows being grasped by the wrist and tugged toward the dance floor. The upside to being large and ungainly is that simply tugging me is usually not enough to get me to actually move.

I’ve always claimed I don’t dance because of a traumatizing experience during my trip to Israel in which I was forced to do step aerobics in front of a mirror and scarred myself for life. The truth is that it started far before that. I remember being at a fifth or sixth grade dance and hugging the wall of the gym for nearly three hours. There were attempts to get me on the dance floor, and for approximately 30 seconds of utter embarrassment there was a success, but it’s no fun having to laugh with people who are laughing at you to make it seem ok. I repeated this exact scenario once in college, essentially ruining my chances with the girl who invited me to the dance. Yes, I may have matured, but I still attend dances at a fifth grade level.

For those brief two hours periods hidden away in the golf course clubhouse down the street, however, I danced. And I did it well enough. Or so I was told.

That first lesson was horrific. I stepped on feet, toppled over twice—nearly going through the window one of those times—and simply couldn’t move gracefully for the life of me. I felt my heart pound and the blood rush to my head every time my hand slipped into the small of Masha’s back, her sweater invitingly soft and warm. When we weren’t dancing, I could see the others were as nervous and awkward as I, if a wee bit graceful.

“Eh, it wasn’t so bad,” I told my parents over dinner. “I’m terrible at it, but I’ll go back once more if you want me to.”

The next week I showed up in khakis and a collared shirt, my dress shoes scuffed and worn, but perfect for gliding along the hardwood floor.

“Let us begin,” called the instructor, the seven of us moving back into the positions we had vacated before. “The waltz,” she said as she hit play and began clapping. “One, two, three, one, two, three.”

“Wassup!” came the call from the doorway stopping the instructor mid clap. The music played awkwardly as the room ground to a halt. A skinny white boy with brown hair lodged beneath a backward Patriots cap stood in the doorway, his oversized pants drooped from his puffy black jacket. Topping off the look were boxers peeking out from his jeans adorned with red hearts. His lanky arm swung with a mock gang sign.

The boombox clicked off, leaving the thunderous Timberland boots the only sound in the room. “Mr. Martin, I presume.”

“Yeah, call me Thomas,” he said, playing it cool.

“You’re late, you’re not properly dressed, and you missed the first class. I hope this won’t become a trend.”

His stylish penache disappeared as quickly as Vanila Ice’s career. “Sorry. I had, um, stuff come up.”

“Take a seat. You’ll watch what we’ve learned last week and you’ll be prepared to pick up next week. Ready, class,” she called, hitting the play button again. “And one, two, three, one, two, three…”

ballroom-08I came to loathe having Thomas at that class. I had nothing against him personally. After his initial gangster entrance, he turned out to be quite a nice guy. It was his presence in the class I hated. He stood a mere inch or two shorter than me, meaning the two of us had to trade partners often. I would have a dance with the lovely Masha and then we’d switch and I was saddled with the gropey and inelegant Ms. Eva Horowitz. I’m sure he had an equally rough time with her.

“No, no, no. Hand on his shoulder, Ms. Horowitz,” the teacher would yell. “His position is at the waist.”

As soon as the dance was over, her hands would slide toward my ass again. I began to think about the quickest path to the other side of the room for when the song was done, but no matter the amount of planning, it never seemed to help.

“We’re getting to the point where you’re all proficient enough to start working more on your own,” our instructor announced as we waited for class to begin. As usual, the eight of us were lined up against the wall, having spent the preceding 15 minutes joking and slinging our regular jokes and insults. “Today, I would like you to choose your partner. I will stop the music for instruction.”

My eyes snapped to my left, met directly by Thomas’s harsh glare. It was a Mexican standoff. My trigger finger itched as I knew it would be a race to the one girl we enjoyed dancing with. A drip of sweat beaded down his forehead, dangling from his brow in anticipation. I could feel a slight growl revving in my chest like a warming engine. We stood there unable to move, waiting to see who would break first.

Click. The boombox began the first eking chords of the fox trot and the the world swung back into motion, both of us walking swiftly toward our elegant Slavic target. Elbows were thrown. Hands reached out and shoved. Feet kicked shins.

“Gentlemen!” cried our teacher, as we fell sprawling to the parquet floor. “That’s enough!”

“Sorry,” we mumbled in unison.

“For today, the two of you will be partnered.”

“What!?” It was the first and only intelligible word out of the string of argument that spilled from our flapping lips.

“Mr. Roberts,” she said, silencing us, “you’ll lead first. I expect you to switch each song.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied. I shot a sad look at Masha. She was giggling and shrugged a resigned smile at me. I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Ms. Redding, it looks like you’ll be partnered with Masha,” the teacher announced, breaking our little moment and sending the class into position as the music started anew. Thomas and I grimaced as we grabbed each other.

“This is so gay,” he whispered.

“I know,” I replied.

ballroom-07By the middle of the class, Thomas and I were back in our instructor’s good graces and dancing with the young ladies. The gropey Ms. Horowitz had been chosen by Mr. McHewitt and was so stunned that he had any interest in her that her hands stayed where they were supposed to during the one dance we had, her eyes sneaking glances at the cute surfer boy elsewhere on the dance floor. It was refreshing and delightful, like lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

For the last dance of the day, it was ladies’ choice. I held my breath as people paired off. I met Masha’s eyes, hopeful that she would choose me over Thomas. She smiled at me as she walked toward me.

“Excuse me,” said a voiced below me. I looked down to find the petite Ms. Alice Redding standing there smiling up at me. “Um, may I?” She asked.

I was torn. If I waited just one minute, I was certain Masha would ask me and all would be right in the world. I could dance the last dance of the day with the beautiful girl who haunted my thoughts of this class and made everything right in my mind.

I glanced up at Masha smiled and shook my head infinitesimally. “I’d be delighted,” I announced, turning back to Ms. Redding and offering her my hand. She beamed as she took it and smiled all throughout the dance.

As we filed out, Thomas was up to his usual antics entertaining the room. I slipped over beside Masha and leaned toward her ear. “Sorry,” I whispered. “She asked first.”

“It’s ok. She seemed quite happy.”

“She did, didn’t she?”

Her hand brushed my shoulder as she slipped out the door and disappeared into a brown sedan. I saw her smiled from the window as they pulled away.

Next week, I thought, I’ll ask her out.

The following week, Masha wasn’t there. She didn’t appear the week after nor the week after that. I never saw her again, destroying any hope I had of getting her number or asking her out, not that I’d have known what do with her at that age.

A few weeks later, Thomas stopped coming to class, leaving us evenly matched once more. And as sweet as Ms. Redding was, I had lost my desire to go as well.

I don’t remember if I dropped out or graduated with an invitation to the next level of the class, but I can say for certain I never once used the steps I had learned to dance with anyone. A few years later, I traveled to Israel, saw myself in the mirror, and began my outright refusal to dance. Ever.

Every once in a while, though, a catchy song a little like the ones we used in class will come on. I’ll glance about and make sure no one’s watching, and, when I’m certain I’m alone, I’ll take few steps and find myself twirling about.

Ok, fine, so maybe I do dance. But just a little. And you’ll never see it happen.

Well, probably never…



  • “Yes, I may have matured, but I still attend dances at a fifth grade level.” Love it. Good to know someone else who does.

  • “Yes, I may have matured, but I still attend dances at a fifth grade level.” Love it. Good to know someone else who does.