You know the husband parking lot at any formal occasion, where the lurkers at the back of the room clutch their drinks and desperately try to avoid having to dance? That's where I belong. And in the event that I am forced to dance, I'm very like these poor guys, lurching and bobbing uncomfortably, miserably even, with all the natural grace of a rhino.
I'm not sure how I ended up this way. I don't think I'm a particularly stiff or formal person. I'm not afraid to let my hair down and have fun. But sometime after a show of early promise - I did just fine during the square dance unit in fifth grade gym class, and I almost fainted with delight the first time I slow danced when my girl scout troop visited the now defunct Kemper Military Academy for a "social" - any natural inclination withered on the vine.
It's true that I am not graceful. I'm accident prone and often bump into things. When my boyfriend and I attended step classes in the late eighties (remember those?) I often fell off the step or grapevined in the wrong direction, while he was the teacher's pet. This same boyfriend had dated a dancer and was accomplished enough that he was in high demand at weddings; I was happy for him to whirl everyone from the bridesmaids to the groom's mother to the bride herself around the floor, while I drank wine and ate cake.
One thing you'll never catch characters doing in my book is dancing, at least so far. I don't know how to write that scene. I don't know how to communicate the joy that so many people obviously take from letting music bypass their conscious mind and go straight to the body.
There is one exception. I danced with my children. When they were small, I picked them up and waltzed them around the kitchen, singing (I never had a problem with that) and dipping and spinning. Those were wonderful moments - private moments. My babies were not old enough to know that their mother had two left feet, and I suppose that gave me a sort of freedom that is now lost.
Luckily, I did not pass down my dancelessness to my kids
One of the Pens give wonderful parties where everyone ends up dancing in the living room. I love these parties, as an observer, a wallflower. High heels are kicked to the corners of the room, furniture is pushed back, people ebb and flow into each others orbits - there is laughter and flirtation and I'm envious, I suppose, but nowhere near bold enough to join in.
I won't rule out the possibility that someday the moment might come - exactly the right song, partner, whim - and I might try again. But for now, it's the sidelines for me.