I can't waltz or do the Funky Chicken so what am I doing on the dance floor

November 02, 1995|By Kevin Cowherd

As a white man in his early 40s, I long ago accepted the pain and humiliation that come with being dancing-impaired.

For the dancing-impaired, even a simple wedding reception can be a terrifying experience.

Sitting there at your table, quietly sipping a beer, you immediately sense trouble as the band finishes its warm-ups and breaks into a spirited version of "Shout!"

Suddenly the woman across from you, the one with the impressive, Lesley Stahl-like helmet of hair and three glasses of Chablis warming her insides, jumps up, grabs your arm, and shouts: "C'mon, honey, let's you and me get down!"

Instantly the blood drains from your face and your body goes into full fight-or-flight response.

"Well, I'm really not much of a d . . .," you stammer, but she is having none of it, this horrible little woman with her deep cleavage and heavy Alberto V05 habit.

Loopy grin firmly in place, eyes shining like a Jews-for-Jesus disciple, she drags you out of your seat with a grip that would shame a stevedore.

"No, really, I don't d. . ." you start to say, which is when the others at the table (all pretty well-oiled themselves) begin shouting: "Oh, c'mon! Dance with her!"

And as you stand there with that deer-in-the-headlights look, perspiration beading rapidly on your forehead, senses so fine-tuned that you can feel the Wear-Dated carpeting through your loafers, it suddenly occurs to you that you're doomed.

There is no escape. This woman is on a mission. This is her personal jihad. And like the fanatic who straps a dozen sticks of dynamite to his chest and points his Jeep toward enemy lines, there can be no turning back now.

From here, things begin to escalate in a hurry.

Grabbing your sweaty hand in a no-nonsense grip, the woman guides you to the dance floor like a trainer walking a Clydesdale.

Once there, she begins to move gracefully in time to the music, a gift all women seem to possess.

You, on the other hand, proceed to execute a series of clipped, jerky steps (if that's even the right word) that resemble nothing so much as a man twitching on a downed, 10,000-volt power line.

Maybe you get the head thing going, that pathetic side-to-side motion so favored by men in their pre-Sansabelt-slacks years.

Then you get the hands thing going, a pumping, churning movement vaguely recalled from some long-ago episode of "Hullabaloo." ("C'mon, kids! Do the Swim!" )

All in all, it's a performance that can best be described as pitiful.

Those guests seated closest to the dance floor will naturally avert their eyes and pretend to engage in deep conversation.

A few, however, will stare at you in slack-jawed fascination, the way one does at a particularly bloody auto accident on the interstate.

With a few more Budweisers sloshing around in your gut, this whole scene would at least be tolerable, if not enjoyable in a sick way. But sober, your embarrassment is palpable.

You want to die. You want to run back to the table, grab a butter knife, and jab it through your thorax before the other startled guests can tackle you and dial 911.

Instead, you hope no one notices that, for all the wild, disjointed flailing about of your upper body, your feet, amazingly, have not moved even one inch!

In fact, for all intents and purposes, your feet might as well be nailed to the floor with a staple gun.

This, my friends, is what the dancing-impaired live with every time another dewy-eyed couple enters the vows of holy matrimony and decides to throw a party.

I hear it all the time: The wedding reception is a time of celebration, a time of joy, a time of blah, blah, blah.

Right. Try telling that to the dancing-impaired. We'll laugh right in your face. If we don't start crying.

At the last wedding reception I attended, 200 drunks took to the dance floor at one point and began doing the Hokey-Pokey.

God, it was frightening!

Let me say this about the Hokey-Pokey: There is not enough booze on the planet to make me do that stupid dance.

In fact, just the mere mention of the Hokey-Pokey is enough to induce an anxiety attack in the dancing-impaired, who will flee like someone lobbed a hand grenade through the window.

Our position on the Hokey-Pokey is this: If you get off on all that "You-put-your-right-foot-in, you-put-your-right-foot-out" nonsense, knock yourself out.

Just leave us out of it, OK?

0$ Please. We're asking you nicely.

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