Dancing

[I] am one of the few people that has never learned how to dance. I’m not really all that upset over this, but my wife, like most women, loves to dance. This is because women have an extra gland that they can activate at will that enables them to move well to music. I am obviously lacking this gland, and therefore tend to dance like the Frankenstein Monster with jock itch — and this is after I’ve loosened up. Off hand, I can’t think of any men that move well to music except Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov, (which I can’t even spell) and Michael Jackson, who technically can’t be classified as a man. And Baryshnikov dances ballet, which doesn’t come up too often at nightclubs and weddings.

The problem here is that men do not realize that they cannot dance well, because they have a “make a fool of yourself” gland, which automatically activates at the sound of music. (Do you think “air guitar” was invented by a woman?!) Because of this gland, men think that they are great dancers. Women get together, and it’s not uncommon for them to dance with each other. Usually at any given social event that requires dancing, there will be a small clot of women dancing together while their dates or husbands sit together and talk about sports, consume alcoholic beverages and emit toxic fumes.

Women can be out on the dance floor for weeks on end and rarely use the same dance move, while men unknowingly do the exact same move all the time while slowly turning around. This is why the women all go to the ladies room together. They talk about us men. “Well, I see your boyfriend has a new move this year,” is a popular ladies’ room topic. It’s a good thing that they are in the ladies’ room, because many a bladder has been emptied during this fun time for the ladies.

They actually tried to teach us how to dance during sixth grade gym class. All the guys would stand in one line, and all the girls would stand in their own separate line. The first people in each line were “paired off” and were partners, as were the second people and so on. Each gym day, you always ended up with a different partner, which enabled you to make a fool of yourself in front of a different girl each time. Many of the “smarter” boys and girls would find the partner that they liked in the opposite line, and place themselves in a position where they would end up as partners. Of course, this resulted in a huge clump of people pushing and shoving and falling down and generally resulted in an anti-dancing mood.

I was always clustered together with the “patient group” who would calmly await to see which partner would be assigned to them by Lady Luck, and as always, I ended up with a girl that looked like Shemp Howard from the Three Stooges. (Of course, in the sixth grade, most of the girls looked like Shemp Howard.) So being the sensitive guy that I am, I would shriek in horror and sprint to the far corner of the gym. to my surprise, there were always three or four guys already there babbling and convulsing from fright. Now that we shared a common bond, we would take turns hurling insults at all the people who were out on the dance floor doing the wrong steps and clapping out of rhythm. It was great fun. Some of the guys were actually falling down after tripping over their own feet. Face it — who can honestly (and by this I mean “without the aid of alcoholic beverages”) — watch a large group of people doing a dance called “The Funky Chicken” and not pee in their pants?

I think the dance instructors secretly had nitrous oxide pumped into the gym during the class so that by the time that the “Funky Chicken” came up, everybody thought it was a grand idea. I’m quite sure that plenty of people would awaken the morning after the gas had worn off and exclaim, “Oh my God, I danced like a chicken in front of everyone!” Luckily, the gas never reached the corner where we were. Granted, we all had huge wet spots on the front of our pants from laughing so hard, but at least we didn’t dance like chickens.

Every time we go to a wedding or any social event, my wife wants me to dance with her — and don’t get me wrong, I love to slow dance with my wife because it limits the amount of people that I can step on. Unfortunately, DJs have to take a course in sadism to become DJs, and realizing that they have quite a large amount of people on the dance floor, and half of them are men stumbling over cigarette butts, they decide that it would be extremely humorous to play an uptempo song.

Oh sure, they’ll play a batch of slow songs to get all the guys out on the floor, then they’ll spring a fast song on everyone. The women engage their extra “dance gland” and start dancing as it were choreographed and they practiced these moves for years, and I try to spontaneously combust, which unfortunately usually doesn’t happen — so I’ll start jerking along with the music and randomly bumping into people as I navigate my way back to our table so that I can consume vast quantities of beer. This is supposed to make me feel confident, but after drinking enough beer to make me feel confident, I can’t dance anyway. This usually results in me holding on to my wife for dear life and trying to slow-dance to a very upbeat song. When she finally manages to pry me away from her, I tend to stagger around in circles until the song ends and then I lunge back to our table to hear everybody exclaim, “You did fine!,” which is hard to believe when you look around and everybody is glaring at you and rubbing their toes.

To help matters immensely, there is always a family member — usually in the form of a cousin or aunt, who will come over and ask me to dance, probably for the benefit of the people who just arrived and didn’t get to see me make a spectacle of myself the first time. I try to decline the invitation tactfully, but people get so insulted when you refuse to dance with them. I might as well say, “Nothing personal, but I’d rather eat goat droppings,” for all the good it does me to be tactful.

Eventually I’ll learn to dance so I’m not so self-conscious about it, but until then, if you see me at a wedding, make sure you are wearing steel-toe shoes. I know I will be.

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