"I Don't Dance"
I don't dance.
I've tried to... many times. I always end up looking like that age-old white guy just flailing about. Meanwhile, others are able to shake their "thang" all over the dance floor. I look like I've either had too much to drink (flailing), or not enough (stiff). Either way, it never looks good.
Oh, the rhythm is there, to be sure. I can tap out a beat just fine. Just don't ask me to move any more than that. Way above me, you know, the hands and arms, they can move all over the place and look smooth doing it. But it stops at the waist. The movement stops there. Beyond the tapping, I don't move at all. The instant I do, it's a disaster. I'm surprised I haven't tripped over myself after all of these years.
But what's the big deal, right? There are lots of feet like me who can't move. There are even a few poor soles... I mean souls... who are even worse than I am at it. So why should I be worried about that? Why does it matter? Right?
If all of the other parts above you happen to be musically inclined, and you're not, it can mean a lot. If you play an instrument, what difference does it make that your feet can't move beyond a simple tapping? No big deal, right? If you sing, it should be the same thing, right? Right? It should be.
That is unless you are in a school choir, and the choir director just happens to be dating (and eventually marries) the theater director. And they both like show tunes! So not only do you need the ability to sing, but dance as well. At least you do if you want any shot at the brief, fleeting, oh-so-important spotlight of high school fame.
"Move over there. Hit this mark on this note. Kick, ball, change!"
Where was I? In the back. Where they couldn't see me flailing through the steps, or pounding across the stage, stiff as a board. The rest didn't matter. No amount of singing talent could erase the fact that I was completely unable to move with any semblance of grace.
Solos? You're kidding, right?
They went to those who could dance... even a little bit better than I was able to. The voice didn't matter. If they could move, and look good doing it, who cared if their voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard? Their feet could move gracefully across the stage. I looked like the feet of the Frankenstein monster!
Clomp! Clomp! Clomp!
Tenth grade, the choir director, Mr. Jackson, decided to do Les Miserables. The theater director, Ms. Dawley, set up the stage and told us where to go and how to stand and how to move. Where was I? In the back, on a riser (never mind how tall the rest of me was even then), out of sight. The Seniors, and a few Juniors, got the solos. The lone Sophomore (me) was in the background. But that's okay. Let the Seniors shine one last time.
Eleventh grade, and we're doing Phantom of the Opera. Two male leads. Surely the vocal talent is there for at least one of them. But, I need to be able to move across the stage? The Senior tenor, who's feet are only a bit more mobile than I am, gets the Phantom. Okay. He's a Senior, I'm a Junior. One last shot at the spotlight. The part of Christine goes to a Senior soprano (a wonderful voice). Her Junior boyfriend (a baritone) gets Raoul. Both can dance well (not that there's much dancing involved).
Where am I? In back, where no one can see me. Again.
After Phantom, we find time to do Grease. Lot's of dancing involved! The "Phantom" bows out because he doesn't want to have his long mane of hair cut into a 1950s greaser's ducktail. So Danny and Sandy? "Raoul" and "Christine" again (naturally). Kenickie? Another Junior bass who can't really sing and who is stiffer than I am (what?), but he can lift and throw anything, or anyone. Oh, I got a part. Doody. A solo? HA! "Danny", "Kenickie", and "Sonny" got all of the male solos. "Kenickie" can't sing. "Sonny", a Senior tenor/baritone, can't hit the high notes in his one solo. Where am I? In the background, barely visible, except for the points where I have to act.
I can't act any better than I can dance.
I don't dance.
Twelfth grade, Senior year. My chance for the spotlight, right? We're doing "Land of a Thousand Dances" and some kind of turn of the century (circa 1900s) musical review! WHAT!? Even MORE dancing than we'd done the previous two years combined! Oh well, I'm the only Senior tenor. Shoe in for whatever solos might be had, right?
Of the TWO solos available, they go to a Junior who's voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard. But Dawley liked his sister two years ago (although the feeling was NOT mutual) and he could dance... sort of. Where was I? In the back, where I wouldn't be seen. Out of the spotlight.
It's been seventeen years since then. I occasionally do myself the great favor of walking myself down Memory Lane. Most of me remembers the good and the bad. There are regrets to be sure. Things that could have been done better. It's all in the past now though, so what can you do? Be bitter over it? Maybe, but what good would it do? In the end, the sadder part of that journey all came down to one simple fact.
I don't dance.