As a 36-year old white guy, there are a lot of things that I can’t pull off:
- Either of the hawks (faux or mo). (It’s one of the things that kept me out of contention for a role in the A-Team remake.)
- Skinny and/or baggy jeans. (Nobody needs or wants to see more of what I have going on in the slacks-region.)
- Any use of the phrase “Bieber Fever.”
These are all things that I can, and do, avoid. But there is one thing which keeps bringing me back for a humiliatingly one-sided showdown again and again. My old nemesis: dancing.
Fast or slow. Jazz or tap. Popping or locking. I cannot dance. Not only do I have two left feet, but aside from my regular left foot, I seem to have another left foot which was injured in a misguided foray into the world of rodeo clowning.
I have one move, and one move only. I shift from one leg to the other while slightly swaying my arms. A move that reminds my wife of an “As seen on TV” exercise slide, but slowed down for rehabbing Seniors. My only variation is that I speed it up for a fast song (i.e Morris Day and the Time’s “Jungle Love) and awkwardly grab onto someone for a slow dance (i.e. Jeffrey Osborne’s hauntingly beautiful “On the Wings of Love”).
Maybe my non-existent dancing skills are due to a lack of strong dancing role models as a kid. Without the constant bombardment of C-level celebrity dance programs on network TV, did I ever really stand a chance? Despite my proclivity for gold lamet headbands, I knew that no matter how hard I worked I could never be a Solid Gold dancer. Instead, I saw Bruce Springsteen’s moves in the “Dancing in the Dark” video and decided that they most closely matched my skill level.
In grade school, my lack of dancing prowess came head to head with my lack of skills with the ladies, as my gym teacher decided to focus less on my inability to do a pull-up and create a more hoedown-centric curriculum. Square dancing was the perfect storm for the 12-year old me, as it combined the mind-blowing nervousness of physical contact with the opposite sex and down home choreography. I think I would have rather done push-ups. Girly style.
Things didn’t improve much in high school, as school mixers leaning up against the bleachers in the gym led to my first formal dance, when I awkwardly swayed to “High Enough” by the Ted Nugent led super-group Damn Yankees. I don’t know it is possible to sweat through a blue blazer, but I think I came as close as humanly possible.
Most of my displays of fancy footwork these days come at weddings, the event which comes as close as most adults will ever be again to attending prom. (I hope) I got married last year, and the part of the day that had me most nervous was the dancing. Having my picture taken repeatedly or meeting loads of people whom I have never met? Child’s play. Dancing with everyone watching? Horrifying.
We outlawed the Duck Dance and the Macarena but, as the wedding approached, a highly choreographed wedding party dance became an internet sensation. Wisely, Jen realized that having a husband that looks like he is doing the Robot even when he is trying not to may create an internet sensation of a completely different kind. So she let me stick to my one move. I love her because she knows that I will always dance when asked but she accepts the fact that my dancing will only continue to get worse. Much, much worse.
So, I will continue to dream of a world in which John Lithgow has outlawed dancing, “Footloose”-style, but in my heart I know that I will be called on to dance again. Just as long as it isn’t “The Cha Cha Slide.”