Summer - the perfect time for writing. During the next week or so my itinerary consists of working two hours in the morning at Sylvan and tearing apart my bathroom. It's a hard knock life, I know. And I'm not even a redheaded, curly-haired orphan. However, I did once own a pet hamster I called "Daddy Warbucks", but he was not bald nor was he rich. And here is the really ironic thing: I adopted HIM! Is that irony or is that just kindheartedness? Or... might it be BOTH?!
It is because of my new found bonus time that I am able to begin a week long special feature: "7 Life Changing Moments". I begin with my 6th grade dance.
Sixth Grade. One of the most illustrious years of my life. Slim, sexy and wildly popular with a mushroom cut that an elf could live under. I was enjoying a pre-Junior High anti-awkward phase that would quickly take a 7th grade turn for the worse. With a clear complexion and a hairless chest, I tackled and conquered the 6th grade. It was the perfect precursor year to my slimyJunior High years - Seventh grade was bungling and reclusive, but that is another story for another day.
In the Fall of 1988, at Uintah Elementary School a stranger walked through the doors. A stranger that we effectually called "PE Teacher". While I don't think she ever gave us her actual name, she was energetic and spunky and wore the cutest pink leggings a prepubescent boy could imagine. This PE teacher had a dream - a mission really: A full on dance off between every class in the school!
I am still amazed at the foresight and bravery of this PE ball of effectual thunder. Brittney Spears, In Sinc, and even the Backstreet Boys had not yet even been conceived in 1988. (Actually, they may have been conceived or even born. Nevertheless, for the sake of my story, I am sticking with the "not been conceived yet" yarn to keep things moving and interesting. Also, it makes me sound old and wise) Here was PE teacher #1, taking us under her wing, teaching us dance moves that would last a lifetime.
We voted in March. We needed a song that would capture the hearts and minds of the judges. Something unflappable yet still captivating. Something that sizzled and said, "We're Awesome", but mostly something that sizzled. It was decided. It was decided that we would be dancing to Mr. Huey Lewis and his accompanying "News" to the tune of "It's Hip To Be Square". Unfortunately, Huey was unable to make it personally, and we knew that dancing to a cassette recording would be the best we could do. Even the news was busy.
Training for a dance off is harder than it sounds. Dizzying exactness was required with every move. Bends must be bent at angles of all degrees. Stretches must be stretched until you have reached Armstrong lengths. Turns must be funneled like a cake. Beyond this, each move had to be synchronized to precise precissious precisions. Even further beyond that, it had to be "hip", it had to be "to be" and it had to be "square". An impossible task to ask of any ordinary Broadway dance troupe. Fortunately, we were no ordinary Broadway dance troupe.
The day at last arrived. With the legs of our jeans folded up our legs as if they were screaming at our hips; braided belts tied tightly around our waists, and enormous 80's sunglasses fit snug against our pale skin, we were ready for the competition. We were ready to... dance.
And dance we did. Every move was a dedicatory tribute to Mr. Lewis and his beloved News.
As I danced, I realized I had begun my dancing journey. Dancing became a part of me that day. I had never thought about my DNA, but on this day, my DNA thanked me. My DNA lifted above my body, looked down upon my flailing limbs and said, "Thank you for ingraining me into your body!" Joyous.
I don't dance as much as I used to. Sure, I'll drop the occasional boogie bomb on a wedding reception or drop kick a Cheeseboy hustle in the middle of a Costco. If you have seen me dance, you know that the moves are there - begging to be released. But alas, I am in what is referred to as the "twilight years" of a dancers career and my body is no longer willing.
I'll always look back on that day in sixth grade as a life changing moment. The moment in which dance - in all it's glory - pushed... no slammed it's way into my soul. I will be forever grateful to that PE teacher with the pink leg warmers, the contagious smile and the boyfriend that drove a Trans Am.
For me, last dance has been called. Unless of course, I get challenged to a dance off. Unless I get challenged to a dance off...
Patrick Swayze... I'm still waiting.