The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Shake it like a Polaroid Picture"

I can’t dance. And I’m serious. I. Can’t. Do. It. I have never really given much thought to my pronounced inability to shake and shimmy like an R&B crooner; I just accept it as a matter of fact. I fight back the tears by telling myself there is nothing I can do about it; I just didn’t get the genes. But how can that be? My parents are both fine dancers. My mother would say this is being a bit generous to my dad; but whatever, the man can hold his own on the dance floor. Sure, it’s true that he dropped my mom a few times and flattened her toes more than a few times, but what was she expecting, Saturday Night Fever? At least my dad still has the nerve to get back on the saddle (and I mean this quite literally—my father may or may not have an invisible bucking bronco between his legs) and thoroughly shame his family night after night with everything his mamma did not give him, and—God have mercy—the sprinkler. To paraphrase any kung-fu movie, “he has brought much dishonor to the family.” Even still, you have to tip your hat to a man whose obliviousness borders on psychosis.

I envy my father’s complete disregard for what others think. My problem is that I am all too aware of how much I suck. Ignorance isn’t always bliss, but when you dance like an epileptic quadriplegic it is. Just ask my dad.

As I look back on the handful of dances I have had, one night stands out like Rush Limbaugh at Woodstock—the night I danced with Katie Levenstein.

Middle School is a weird transitional period. The dynamic between the sexes transforms almost overnight as gals and gents begin freely and openly intermingling. In Elementary School, things are kept simple. The boys hate the girls; the girls hate the boys. The mutual disgust keeps life uncomplicated in those early years. Why did I refuse Jenny Roesner’s invitation to the Bronx Zoo in the 2nd grade? Because going would have forced me to kiss my ‘recess cred” goodbye, that’s why.

But the funny thing was, my hatred for girls was all an act. I’m not sure if I’m flying solo on this one but I liked girls. I liked them early. My peacocky (yes it’s a word) displays of male bravado—street hockey at recess, pull-ups at gym class—were not directed at intimidating the guys, but attracting the biddies.

So when I got to middle school, the whole liking girls thing was a fairly easy transition for me. The big thing in junior high was going to church-sponsored dances on Saturday nights (wild, I know). For one wrinkled Lincoln, you contributed to a house of worship and gained entry to an auditorium of girls, a simultaneous nod at God and wink at women. Talk about bang for your buck!

At these dances, there were plenty of girls to choose from, but one in particular, Katie Levenstein, was the only girl I was interested in. It’s hard for me to get across just how above my pay grade Katie was, but I’ll try. As a 6th grade boy, dating the 8th grade Katie Levenstein was as probable as Gilbert Gottfried dating Heidi Klum. Katie was Miss. Everything. She was beautiful (model), athletic (lacrosse team), smart (perfect GPA), ambitious (class president), and—no I’m not making this up—funny (improv captain). Put simply, she was wildly out of my league.

But on one fateful night, either the planets aligned or my bigmouth friends told her I liked her. I tend to find the latter explanation more probable despite their swearing otherwise.

I was with a group of friends when I saw her walking directly towards me. I instinctively pawed the space behind me to make sure there wasn’t some handsome spiky-haired prince lurking in the shadows. There wasn’t. She asked me to dance, which my supposedly guiltless friends found suspiciously amusing. I tried playing it cool but I’m pretty sure I still came off like an overanxious dork. But I didn’t care. I was about to dance with the most popular girl in school.

So how was the dance? Incredible. “Wait, I thought you couldn’t dance?” I cant, but it was a slow song and, believe it or not, even I can manage swaying side to side for 4 minutes. With the first song under my belt I felt great—that is, until I heard what came next.

Damn you Sir Mix-A-Lot and your unhealthy obsession with big butts!

I’m not really sure what this all adds up to but I guess what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to look like an idiot. Take chances. Risk feeling stupid. The embarrassments are temporary but the memories are timeless.

~Ian M. Johnson

Postscript: If there are any patient/well-insured dance instructors out there--*cough, cough* Courtney M. Myers *cough, cough*--I could use some help.


Blogger Editorial Committee said...

Ian... I would gladly assist you in improving your dance skills. Then I'll track down Miss Katie Levenstein and you can show her what she's been missing all these years ;)


March 7, 2010 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Alex M. Mead said...

Coming from someone who has two left feet and plenty of experience with embarrassing myself on the dance floor, I think dancing should be about losing all inhibitions and having fun. Whether it's a ballet on stage, at a hipster hip-hop dance club in L.A. or T-swift in front of your bathroom mirror, dancing should be about making yourself feel good and putting a smile on your own face; not about impressing Miss Katie Levenstein.

March 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

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