DANCING WITH THE ELEPHANT

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I can’t dance.  All my friends and family know it.  I kept trying throughout the years, even though I’d look like a frozen turkey doing moves only a mother could love.  It’s always bothered me.  While everyone else is out on the floor having a great time, I relegate myself to the “singles” table (more commonly known as wallflowers and old farts) and I sip my drink slowly, hoping someone will take pity on me and want to chat.  They don’t.  There I sit, all alone, head in hands, dejected look on my face.  I can hear the beat of the music and it lures me.  I can feel it in my bones.  I can feel it in my toes.  But when I get to the floor I congeal into a blithering blob and am left embarrassed and vowing never to try again.  My siblings are good dancers, as is my daughter.  What happened to me?

Here is the funny thing about it all.  I am a musician.  I play several instruments.  I write songs and perform them in front of hundreds of people.  I do have rhythm – I can play the guitar for gosh sakes!  All of this sent me on a quest to find the dance muse.  I had many questions to ask.  And maybe, just maybe, there were some leftover dance moves in his bag of tricks that he would give me?  They might be a little rough around the edges or broken in spots, but heck, I wouldn’t care.  Anything is better than what I have now.

I went to a popular restaurant with my friends.  Did I mention I live in Mexico where the music is banda?  “Come on, join us,” they chorused.  I shook my head no.  I wasn’t getting up there and feeling like an idiot.  I had a drink instead.  Maybe it would loosen me up.  It didn’t, so I had another.  All the while I watched my friends partying away, dancing their little hearts out.  I so wanted to be them.  I felt sorry for myself, and finally, after much cajoling on the part the group I was with, I got up.  Same thing.  Couldn’t dance.

I forgot about it for some time, and then a new love interest intervened.  After we had been dating for a while, my new friend took me to dinner.  A dance club.  “Want to dance?” He said, offering his arm.

I blushed.  “No thank you.”  I muttered something about the shoes I had on having the wrong kind of heels.

“Come on,” he coaxed.  “Dance with me.”

“I guess I’ll have to tell you some time or other.  I can’t dance.”  There, I’d said it.  He knew that he was dating not a dancing diva but a hayseed wallflower.

He was undaunted.  “Let me show you.”  He moved my chair out and  I got to my feet.”

“All right, “ I agreed.  “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”  I laughed.  “Bet you won’t ask me again.”

We moved to the dance floor and he held me in his arms.  The band was playing a slow waltz.

“Just relax and feel the music,” he told me.  I got lost in his brown eyes and somehow did just that.   Before I realized it the song was over and we were clapping as we returned to our table.

“I thought you said you can’t dance.”  He smiled.

“I can’t, er, I don’t think I can…” I stuttered.

The band started to play again.  An oldie from our generation – I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

I thought quickly.  “I need to use the Ladies Room,” I said, rising to make a mad dash for the back of the room before he asked me to join him in a fast dance.  No such luck.  Before I knew it he had his arm around me, gently guiding me back to the dreaded spot where I knew I would make a fool of myself.

“I was an awkward farm boy,” he said.  “One of the first girls I dated was older than I.  We went to a school dance but I didn’t have a clue.  She told me to pretend I was getting out of the shower, toweling myself off. “ He demonstrated.  “Put the imaginary towel around your hips like this, and pull it back and forth.  Move to the beat.  That’s how easy it is.  Don’t be so afraid, it doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, just have fun.”

Again I looked into those brown eyes and in spite of myself I tried.  And it worked.  Soon I was dancing up a storm to all the fast songs.  What has come over me, I thought.  I can’t dance.  I never have before.  But now I can.  What’s up?

Inzared can’t dance either.  I used this real-life situation in my book.  She is an awkward hillbilly girl from the Appalachians and although she plays guitar, she doesn’t have much time for dancing, so thinks she can’t.  Paytre, on the other hand, is a Gypsy and they are well known for their dancing skills.  He takes the moves for granted.  That being said, he is patient and kind to Inzared, understanding that she is uncomfortable and ill at ease.

I learned something in my quest for the dance.  It’s all about confidence.  Doesn’t matter whether or not you can dance.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.  If you think you can, you’ll get out there and do it.  It’s a lot like writing a novel.  Many times I have heard people say, “I could never write a book.”  They probably can’t.  Because they don’t have skill?  Maybe, but more likely it’s because they have talked themselves into believing they can’t write a novel.  There are many authors who aren’t the greatest writers around, but they write best sellers.  Know why?  They believe in themselves.  They move forward, even when it’s easier to give up and sit it out.

Inzared does agree to dance with Paytre, and although she can more often than not be found playing backup guitar with the other musicians, she often joins the group and dances, as well.  The look on her face when she is in Paytre’s arms is pure delight.  Because she is enjoying herself.  She knows that she can dance.  She had the confidence to try and it worked!

And me?  I married “ole brown eyes,” and am living my dream.  The confidence he gave me on the dance floor spills into other areas of my life.  Sure, I’d rather be in the background playing guitar with the other musicians too, but when I am in his arms I am happy.  I love to dance.  And all it took to make me realize it was a grown-up, once- awkward farm boy from Wisconsin.  Lucky me!

My link for today is (of course) how to dance!

How to Dance

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