These are the Days
The year was 1978. It was a big day. My first dance of my life. I was a nervous wreck. The 8th grade class was graduating and so by tradition the 7th graders including myself would get to go to the big graduation dance held in the SRL Hall.
I really don’t know how these things went. I didn’t know how to dance. I didn’t know what to wear. And I definitely didn’t even know how to talk to a girl. I was in a time crunch and needed help fast to pull it altogether.
Learning to Dance
Step 1 was to learn to dance. My brother Bill is no Michael Jackson but he offered to be my tutor. He only knew one dance so it was pretty simple. He told be under no uncertain terms was I do deviate from this. He told me I might be tempted to get a little wild as the music moved me but warned me to stick with this.
Learning to Dress and Woo Woman
Next step, what to do about the whole girl thing. Bill came to rescue again. He recommended a nice little baby blue leisure suit with a butterfly collar. He also handed me a bottle of Hai Karate and said, ” You gotta smell good”. Put this on. It smelled like Dad. I was well on my way to become a significant player at this dance.
Step 3 – Learning to ask a girl to dance
This was a hard step but Bill again came to the rescue. He said the best way to ask a girl to dance is to not ask at all. He said you go up and start dancing and say, “Hey you wanna dance?”. Kind of by default they have to say Yes because you have assumed they do. This was seeming to be a snap. I just had to dance and ask questions. Simple.
The Big Dance!
So the dance night I was a nervous wreck. Drenched in Hai Karate and my baby blue leisure suit with the butterfly collar I couldn’t help but think I maybe over did it as I looked around.
Everyone else looked pretty casual and laughing as they entered the hall. One of the nuns broke out the record player and started putting records on. To the sounds of “Ring My Bell” the disco hit of the time I scanned the room. I started to move my legs a bit as Bill had instructed me and started walking around the hall a bit.
The Awkward Shuffle Followed by More Snacks
The dance floor filled quickly and there were just a couple of girls sitting on the opposite wall. I didn’t care who I danced with. I just felt like the whole place was watching me and I didn’t want to look dumb.
I started shuffling to the opposite wall to approach one of the gals and then as I got real close I diverted my walk to the snack table. I had choked and now I was pretending that I wanted to eat some peanuts not dance.
I made the walk of shame back to the boys wall and felt really dumb. For the next 30 minutes I proceeded to do the same awkward shuffle to the girls side only to shuffle over to the snack table every time. I was so sick of eating peanuts. My stomach was actually turning because I had eaten too many peanuts. I was not sure how much longer I could continue the charade until I threw up.
As I made the walk of shame back one final time, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a girl named Cristina. She smiled and said, “Want to Dance?” I could not even express my gratitude to her enough.
She had literally saved me. I was doing my dance. I wasn’t getting crazy. I just did it like a robot until the song was over. Mission Accomplished. All was good at the Times of Our Life Dance.