Long Story Short

Last Dance

Tripping the light fantastic and other ancient dance rituals

Illustration by Maura Condrick

I've been dancing as fast as I can for almost 25 years, trying to make my marriage work, and let's just say that I'm no Fred Astaire. For the longest time, I danced only figuratively because, other than swaying to the music with my sons when they were babies, I was never one to trip the light fantastic.

Katie, on the other hand, loves to dance and I used to sit back and watch her, thinking how pretty and sexy she looked. All I wanted was to be out there with her, but I couldn't. Until one day when I finally screwed up the courage (translation: got hammered), got up off of my ass and—even though I was sure I looked like some spastic combination of David Byrne in the Big Suit, Young Frankenstein and Ed Grimley—I was dancing.

And have been ever since. Not well, but I'm out there.

I was thinking about this on the train last night when I remembered another ancient dance ritual. It happened when I was 12 years old, at sleepaway camp. One night we had a social with the girls' camp down the road, and I waited the whole night to ask a pretty little blond girl if she would dance with me.

A bunch of the other guys went right at it as soon as we got there, but I stayed pretty much by myself in a corner, trying desperately to look cool. Then the DJ announced it was time for the last dance of the night. I went into a complete panic and my heart was beating louder than the music as I edged my way to the pretty little girl and I don't have a clue what I said to her except it ended with me blurting out, "Wanna dance?"

To which she replied, "NO!"

Now, almost 40 years later, it's time for the last dance again and the pretty little girl is still saying the same damn thing.

Tags: marriage

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