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Angst of a man without happy feet

Country Roads

September 24, 2012
Arvid Huisman ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

When I was a teenager I could not dance. Dancing was one of the "thou shalt nots" in the church of my teens.

Now I'm a sextenarian (don't get excited; it just means I'm in my 60s) and I still cannot dance. My church doesn't prohibit me from dancing. My lack of coordination and rhythm prohibit me from dancing.

When they handed out coordination I thought they said fluoridation so I said, "No thanks, I'll brush three times daily."

That's why I can't play basketball. Even thought I'm taller than average, two left feet and large posterior just don't cut it out on the hardwood. These attributes are also a handicap on the dance floor.

Being dance-dysfunctional, high school dances were not fun. (Yes, I defied church rules. King David danced and I tried.) One of my high school buddies philosophized that in lieu of the ability to dance one should just stand out there and hug to the music. Without a natural sense of rhythm I'm not sure I even hugged to the music correctly.

After my senior prom I figured I had it made - no more dancing for me. But my buddy with the "hug to the music" philosophy talked me into taking his good looking cousin from Oklahoma to a college homecoming dance. She said she had a nice time but she was from the South where young ladies are taught to be nice to men even if it means fibbing.

Then I went out and robbed the cradle and, at 21 years of age, ended up at another senior prom with the girl who would later become my wife. I figured if I was going to spend the rest of my life with her the least I could do was go to a stupid dance with her.

Over the years I often thought it would be nice to know a few dance steps so that at wedding receptions or other occasions my wife and I could do more than sit and watch the others. Then the local community college offered dance lessons. This took place a couple of decades ago when exercise still looked like fun.

After several 90-minute Monday night lessons, we could sort of do the Texas two-step, sort of do the Jesse polka, sort of do the waltz, sort of do the Cotton-eyed Joe and sort of do the country swing. We were taught a few other things but we sort of couldn't do them.

Mary, the ever-patient instructor, started out her three dozen or so students with a few simple moves and before the first session was over we were doing the Texas two-step. I felt good about our progress until the next morning when most of me ached terribly.

In spite of the soreness, I looked forward to the second lesson. At the second lesson, however, we had to do more than the two-step. By the end of the evening I was totally exasperated.

Things improved during the third lesson when the instructor taught us the waltz, something even a person without a natural sense of rhythm, without coordination and with two left feet can do. Sort of.

Mary also taught us a fancy line dance which must require estrogen. Most of the women caught on to the line dance quite well but the majority of us guys just stood around shaking our heads.

An excellent teacher, Mary floated (really - her feet barely touched the floor most of the time) around watching her students, providing individual help as needed and handing out encouraging words. Apparently I can't handle encouragement because every time she complimented us I'd lose my count and we had to start over.

If nothing else, our dance lessons were great exercise. After one lesson we went out with another couple-in-training for a snack. The others had coffee or diet cola; I had a strawberry shake. Stamina must be maintained.

As I recall we used our dancing skills one time at a wedding dance a couple of months after "graduating." It did not go well. My wife is 5'4; I'm 6'7". She has rhythm; I don't.

One of these days we should try again. Now, let's see, it's slow-slow-quick step...



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