Dance, dance persecution

I cannot dance. No way, no how. You’ve heard of the tone deaf? I am dance deaf. It takes all my concentration to stand in one spot and sway to the music. I just have no feeling for it. When they do the wave in arenas, I’m always too early or too late. I’m standing when the people around me have already sat down. I’m sitting when they are standing. When people clap along to songs in concerts, I have to watch their hands to know what I’m supposed to do. But I compensate for not be able to dance by being cranky and unpleasant.

I bring this up because there is always some woman at a party (I’m talking about you, Veronica!) who after a few drinks thinks I should dance with her. And no, she doesn’t want to foxtrot around the living room, she wants “Saturday Night Fever” with all the bells on.

“Oh, come on, come on. I love this song.”

“This isn’t a song, it’s a drum solo.” Oh, and did I mention that the person who wants you to dance is always a great dancer? They have rhythm, they have grace, they have style. No wonder no one wants to dance with them. Because even if you could do more than sway in one spot, you’d look like a jerk.

And it’s usually after the third drink that Veronica, I mean some woman, decides that this party is just a little too boring and nothing would put a little pizzazz in it like twisting again – like we did last summer.

“Well, don’t let me stop you. Have another drink while you’re at it.”

The funny thing is, I like dance music. I like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers movies. I enjoyed Riverdance – once. I may be the only person my age who actually liked disco music even though, in a million years, I could never learn do the Latin Hustle. Still, Teddy Pendergrass singing “Don’t Leave Me This Way” with Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes for six minutes and nine seconds will always be on my iPod. But I can’t dance to it, except in my head. That’s where I dance exceptionally well. So nimble, so fluent, so elegant. I am also thin, rich and good-looking in there. But in our living room, tonight, I am a klutz.

Veronica is insistent. She’s like a parent telling a 6-year-old how wonderful peas are and that if he just tries them you’ll like them. A very drunk parent talking to a very willful child. Trust me, Veronica, I know from years of experience that I can’t dance. But I’ve had three glasses of Two Buck Chuck myself and a stand-in-one-place-and-sway kind of song has started playing, so I give in. There is no way this is going to end well, but I’ll do anything to get her off my case.

“No wonder she’s single,” I whispered to Sue as I stood up. “Who on Earth could put up with this whining?”

“She’s a widow,” Sue whispered back. “They were married for 25 years.”

“Boy, I’m glad I didn’t say that out loud.”

“But you did, Blanche, you just think you didn’t. Good thing you’ve both had a few. This should be interesting.”

OK, I’m swaying. Why is she stretching out her arm to me? She has got to be kidding. She wants me to spin her around? I can’t spin myself around. What is the matter with her? I tell her I can’t dance and she wants to enter a jitterbug contest. Look at this, she thinks I’m going to roll her across my back and catch her with one hand and yo-yo her back to me? I’m swaying as fast as I can without falling over. What does she think? We’re on “So You Think You Can Dance?”

The music changes and Veronica puts her hands on her hips, looks at me with disgust and says, “Who ever told you that you could dance?”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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