I don’t want to go to a dance!
What red-blooded, ten year old boy wants to go to a dance?
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I protested. “I’m not going Mom!”
But mothers can be very persuasive in such matters.
I am blessed with vivid memories of my youth and the majority of those recollections are pleasant. To this day, I cannot remember the exact details of how I became enrolled in an extracurricular class called “social dancing.” As I recall, my obviously misguided parents were sold on the premise that ballroom dancing was the solution to adolescent awkwardness with the opposite sex.
The reason they gave me was that everyone needs to learn how to dance.
By way of the suspected parent-teacher conspiracy, my friends and I were to be taught the “social graces” and would magically be transformed from little snot-nosed ragamuffins into young gentlemen. We would learn about manners and how proper young men should treat a young lady.
After getting wind of my fate, I called my buddies to share my fears and gain their sympathy. Unfortunately, my appeal fell on deaf ears. We were all in the same boat, victims of a diabolical plot to tame our occasional coarse behavior. It was hard to visualize learning the waltz and spending all that time with girls.
Male participants were required to be properly attired. The painful shopping trip to JC Penny included purchasing a suit, dress shirt, black oxford shoes and, worst of all, a tie. I was just a kid. How could they expect me to dance and be happy in a suit and tie? I felt like I was going to attend a six-week-long funeral.
The little girls in our class were much more enthusiastic and the hallways of the elementary school were all a twitter with giggles and laughter. We boys could sense that we were being watched and selected as potential dance partners. We felt so used. We would rather play baseball.
After two weeks of restless sleep, the big night arrived. I was nervous, we all were. My sister, who was four years my senior, did her best to reassure me and tried to build up my confidence.
“It will be fun!” I heard her say as I was dropped off at the front door of the dance hall.
Ahead of me lay a long, steep, and creaky set of steps leading up to the second floor dance hall where I would be molded into a miniature version of Fred Astaire or Danny Kaye.
Hesitantly, I stepped into the ballroom. On the far side of the chamber metal folding chairs lined the wall. Every chair was filled with a girl dressed in her Sunday best. Along the wall where I stood were more chairs, all occupied by boys. I found one of my pals and sat down beside him. The boys all looked nervous and scared. The girls looked confident and enthusiastic.
Our dance teacher took a position in the middle of the empty dance floor, introduced herself and welcomed us to the class. After receiving instructions and rules of etiquette, the boys were asked to select a potential partner and after introducing themselves, ask the girl if she would like to dance.
I can’t remember her name, but I found a partner and together we learned the basic dance steps. After multiple awkward attempts, the teacher declared an intermission and the boys were required to serve their partner a glass of ice water from a cart in the middle of the dance floor.
So my partner and I waltzed the night away and I only stepped on her toes a few times. I thanked her when the class ended and ran down the stairs where my dad was waiting at the curb. It wasn’t too bad actually, almost fun. That night I lay in bed, wide awake and wondered who my partner might be the next week.
Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed’s retirement. He can be reached at email@example.com or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633.