May I have this dance?

The other film that caught my eye lately was 'Let it be Me', with Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, and Patrick Stewart (with hair, which was what caught my eye first). Basically this story has a couple going to a dance studio to learn to dance for thier wedding, except she not only knows how to dance, but her instructor turns out to be someone she's danced with before, above and under the sheets. And the instructor, for Campbell Scott decides she has the hots for him -- next thing you know the wedding's off, but after Captain Picard -- I mean Patrick Stewarts character -- gets married, the 2 love birds get back together and all live happily ever after. Again, nothing terribly exciting, but it got me thinking about dancing. I started dancing in seventh grade (1976-77) -- part of the PE curriclum in Jr High included Square Dancing and Disco Dancing (which was exactly like country line dancing, except for the music). In eighth grade my partner for square dancing was Cheryl -- we had the rhythm, we could spin around the square like we'd been doing it for years -- especially if the rest of our group could get it together (which they could, fortunately).

When I hit High School, I tried out for the fall musical (as I did all 4 years I was in high school). Suprisingly enough, for a short and not thin guy, I showed a talent for choreographed dancing, and was involved in big dance numbers each year.

Freshman Year: We did Bye Bye Birdie -- 2 big numbers I was involved in, one being the Shriner's scene. The play's heroine crashes a shriner's meeting, and they all drag her into a big dance number, complete with spinning Fezzes, jumping on tables, and Russian style squat kicks. But it was mostly guys. The other number was the "Got a Lot of Livin' to Do" scene -- I got paired up with Diane Simmons. She was a year ahead of me, and only marginally taller, but with me in stright-leg denim pants, Opie Taylor shirts and slicked back hair, and her in a poodle skirt, fuzzy sweater and saddle shoes, we looked the part quite nicely. We did well together too, even down to our own little modification of the last move -- I had to pick her up in my arms, but she had very long blonde hair that always got trapped between her and my arms, so I'd give her an extra bounce so she could pull her hair loose. I tell you, we had it perfect.

Sophmore year: Thanks to some drunken moron, Diane didn't have a lot of livin' to do -- especially after he crashed his truck head first into her car as she was driving home from church (he survived, she was so bad they never considered an open casket funeral). So, for Oklahoma I got paired up with Lisa Shmidt -- fellow sophmore and short person. Oklahoma has several dancing prospects -- the Kansas City bit (mostly the guys), the Dream ballet (mostly really graceful people), the big Oklahoma song (which wasn't really a dance number, just some movements to break things up), and of course -- the big square dance number. I think there were 12 of us (6 couples, which kind of spoils a square), and we practiced that thing until we could do it with our eyes closed. Even during the actual performances, we had an intermission just before the number -- we'd go outside the school in back and run through it for practice. We were so good we got invited to a seminar at Millikin, where schools with impressive musicals came and performed a scene or 2 -- and we kicked tookus. And Lisa and I worked out pretty good too, even though I could never get the hang of 2 stepping. I just sort of skipped and let Lisa steer us around the circle.

Junior Year: Carosel, and I again get teamed up with Lisa (why break up a good thing). There was only one big number in that one, the guys dressed in black turtle neck sweaters and watch caps, the girls in gingham and pinafores, and telling the guys to be careful when we picked them up, so we wouldnt get our makeup on thier dresses.

Senior Year: Anything Goes, and it was a big disappointment for most of us, except perhaps for Lisa, who was given the female lead, and I was given a new partner, Micki Wilcox (who was the only partner I had who was actually shorter than I was). We did OK, but we never really clicked -- and the fact that I had the dual role as a chinesse guy made things very difficult. We (me and Danny Ball, the other poor sap) had less than 5 minutes to go from chinese to caucasian, which meant changing out of our Viet Cong costumes into normal shipboard formal -- as well as makeup change. Danny only had to redo his eyes, but I had a mustache, which got drawn down in a Fu Manchu style when I was in character. In 4 years of musicals, we were the only people ever assigned 'dressers' to help us make the transition, and one night I still didn't get it in time. I snuck on and asked Micki if she wanted to try to blend in, and she said why bother. I agreed.

Of course, that was also the year of my Senior Prom -- which wasn't too bad. I went with my ex-girlfriend, and we still had a good time and managed to stay out really late. But we didn't dance much. The next year, I let another ex-girlfriend con me into taking her friend to thier prom as a mercy date. Guys -- do not, I repeat, DO NOT take a girl to prom as a mercy date. Ever. Not even your sister. During my first stint at Richland Community College I went a few dances, one with Angie -- my fiancee at the time. We did ok I guess, though she was a little unsteady, and still suffering unpleasant flashbacks to darker moments in her past. It was fun though. The other time was a post-election day dance, where thanks to the help of Kay Morenz I actually got the hang of two stepping (something Lisa never managed to drill into my brain). I don't recall a lot of dancing at Corps School, lots of other stuff that was oodles of fun, but very little dancing. It wasn't really until my second time at Richland that I got into dancing again -- there was a woman in the secretarial sciences program (then, after she graduated, the secretary pool) named Lenore Howard. I don't really know how much older than me she was -- it could have been anything between 5 and 15 years for all I knew. But she was short and kind of stocky (like me), and suprisingly graceful (like me), and we went out dancing for hours several times.

And that, boys and girls, pretty much wraps up my dancing history. Sharon and I don't fit very well -- she's 3 inches taller than me most of the time. I can reduce that a bit, thanks to a couple of pairs of cowboy boots she bought me for our wedding -- but they're not real good for dancing (two stepping being the major exception). There was dancing at Rob and Kim's wedding, and we danced a little, but mostly she danced with Chuck, and I danced with his girlfriend Kim -- strange I know, but if you saw the 4 of us together you'd understand. Then a few dances at our respective High School reunions -- but, since we never go anywhere people dance, it really hasn't come up since.

Still, there are a few dances I wish I had taken. For instance, I really wish I could have danced with Diane Simmons for Oklahoma -- not that I didn't enjoy being Lisa's partner, but the reason for the switch wasn't the happiest in the world. I would have liked to have gone dancing for real with Cheryl, instead of just square dancing. The only dance I actually went to while at Corps School, I wanted to ask Whizzer (a.k.a Tina Kuzenka) to dance, but the band didn't feel like playing anything slow. And maybe I should have accepted Macariah's invitation to dance when we were visiting Sharon's aunt and uncle out west (Macariah is Sharon's cousin Victor's wife -- Sharon and Macariah have the same birthday, Victor and I have the same birthday -- but Sharon and Victor were born in '63, and Macariah and I were born in '65 -- how's that for wierd?). Well, there is one more cousin who has yet to get married, maybe if we go out for that wedding...

And I hope Bubbles wants to dance at her wedding -- I'd hate to miss that one.

Am I really that old?

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