The Only Dance I Know Is Basketball
by Allen Delaney
My friend Herb Fitzhugh is getting married next month, and Ive been invited to his wedding on the condition that I dont dance. Ive known Herb for many years, and I feel that I should honor his request, especially after what happened at a function we both attended five years ago.
I was standing by the bar absorbing the party atmosphere, along with several beers, when the band struck up a good dance tune. I glided onto the floor and before you could say Foxtrot, a woman rushed up to me yelling that I would be fine and that the paramedics were on the way. Nothing ruins a dance faster than two burley rescue workers hauling a guest into an ambulance insisting that hes suffering from a grand mal seizure.
True, my dance style has been compared to someone trying to rid themselves of a charley horse while having spiders dumped down their pants, but that was no reason to further embarrass me by repeatedly asking Are you sure you were dancing?
I explained to the ambulance crew that the only medical condition I suffer from is tone-deafness, an affliction that occurs in most Euro-American males. This is quite evident at any function that involves dancing. The men always hang around the bar explaining that if it werent for an old injury, theyd be out stepping with their wives. The wives, tired of dancing by themselves, finally drag their husbands onto the floor. The women continue to twirl and two-step while the men maneuver their feet as if theyre trying to stomp out a brush fire. This is because most men, specifically me, barely know the difference between a musical beat and a sugar beet. What I do know is that a sugar beet can dance better than I can.
I blame my lack of rhythm on my third grade music teacher, Miss Hall. Every other day, Miss Hall would wheel her cart of unbreakable musical instruments into our classroom and hand them out to the more musically inclined students. Those kids would get the tambourines, maracas and the triangles. The rest of us, the guys, would get either cowbells or two long pieces of ridged wood that when rubbed together made a buzzing sound. Miss Hall would then produce a flip chart that had lines of musical notes on each page, and, pointing at the notes, chant Ta Ta tee tee Ta. tee Ta Ta tee tee Ta. The girls would play their instruments in time with Miss Halls chant, while the guys, thinking that Miss Hall was either speaking in Morse code or had gone insane, would be hitting one another with the ridged sticks while using the cowbells as shields. Its this sort of thing that explains why men dont dance.
So, when Herbs wedding arrives, the women will be gathered on the dance floor while us guys will be at the bar reminiscing about our old music wounds.
Thus I implore the young men of Maryland to put down your cowbells and pay attention in music class. Then march up to your parents and announce that instead of going to basketball camp this summer, youd rather take dance lessons. Its fun. Watch your mother smile with delight. Watch your father turn pale and shake.
Oh sure, youll get called names and be teased unmercifully by your friends and peers. But 10 years from now when those friends are getting married and youre the only one at the reception who knows the difference between rhythm and blues or a waltz and a polka, youll have a line longer than the one for the womens restroom waiting to get to you. All those guys who went to basketball camp will be at the bar saying that they would dance but their knees were damaged by a ridged stick.
In the meanwhile, I plan on getting revenge for never learning how to find the beat in a song. Im going to find Miss Hall and ask her to dance.