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6 January 2006

"Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: pull down your pants, and slide on the ice." [quote Sidney Freedman from "M*A*S*H"]. For the collab this month, tell us where you'd take your fun moments if you could. For you, what would be the epitomy of "pulling down your pants and sliding on the ice?" Why do want to do it, and why will you [or will you not]?

That’s the collab topic for the Writing Womyn collab. It’s a very easy question for me to answer.

My fantasy is dancing. Dancing with wild abandon, arms waving in the air, moving to the music. Catching the beat and going with it. Ellen DeGeneres dancing in the audience.

(That is, by the way, why I will never attempt to go to the Ellen DeGeneres show--because they show movies of her audience dancing, the more "odd" the better. That will never be me, as much as I’d love to be there for a taping of one of her shows.)

Will I eventually dance? Never in a million years.

Why? I am too self-absorbed, which makes me too self-conscious, which makes me too embarrassed to even try.  (Ironic that dancing is something my mother absolutely loves to do...and my grandmother danced in vaudeville as a chorus girl!)

I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was 7 years old. I was carried away watching The Red Shoes and knew that I was meant to dance ballet, until I was told I was too fat to take ballet lessons. I think that was the first time anybody had ever told me that I was "too fat" to do anything.

We had a teacher in grammar school who taught us Irish folk dancing.  I loved that until it was time for choosing partners, when nobody wanted to dance with me because I was too fat.  Even though I was assigned a partner, there was nothing fun about dancing with someone who hated to be paired with you because you were so fat...and let you know his feelings.

I didn’t dance when I was a teenager. I remember my cousin Peach trying to teach me the "steps" to one of the current dances. I was too intent on getting the steps right than to actually enjoy the music and get into it. I never did "get" rock and roll, having missed the defining moment of our generation (my father told me it was crap music and would never last and of course I believed him. Even though there was a part of me which was enjoying the infancy of this new kind of music, Daddy said it was bad and so I never let myself get caught up in the craze because I didin't want to make him mad.)

In addition to not understanding the music, I was ashamed of my body (how I'd kill to have that body now!). I have, over the years, developed a hunched stance, which I now cannot straighten. It began in my teens, when I walked hunched over, hiding my developing body, and the shape I thought was too round.

I actually took dancing lessons (for my physical education requirement) for one semester in college and enjoyed, and there was a time when doing things like folk dancing was fun, but that was because I was following specific steps, moving in the way I was being taught.  Dancing on my own, to the beat of music was just too "open," too "revealing" for me to be comfortable

As I got older and began to put on weight, all the years of being called "fatty" and teased by everyone came back and to get out on a dance floor and enjoy myself put me at risk for being teased. I’d rather sit quietly in the back and watch others having a good time than be teased. Even when I was an adult and people would be too polite to tease me, I felt awkward and felt people would laugh at me behind my back, so I never let myself do it.

Going to a wedding or any event where "dancing" was expected was hell (still is). I tried anything and everything to get out of dancing.

When the kids started Lawsuit, I watched people of all ages get out and enjoy the music. Oh how I wanted to get up with Tom and David, and sometimes Walt and some of the other parents, and dance. But I was fat and shy and awkward and though my heart went dancing my body would not.

Lawsuit got its start at a small club here in town called Mansion Cellars, a minuscule place with an even smaller stage (especially for a 10 piece band). It was owned by Brett Evans, who used to be Ned’s diving coach in the days when he did springboard diving. Brett decided to shut the club down and Lawsuit was the last, or one of the last, bands to play there.

On the night of that last concert, I was at my usual post, over by the side of the stage, when some kid I didn't know came up and asked me to dance. I told him no. He kind of shamed me into it, saying it was my kids’ last time to play at the club and why didn’t I dance, etc. Finally to shut him up, I got onto the dance floor with him. I could tell he was laughing at me, moving awkwardly and feeling self-conscious, and I wanted to die. To his eternal credit--and I will always love him for it (and a host of other things, of course), Tom cut in and subtly moved me back to where I was comfortable

(I cry as I write about that incident. I still hurts today)

I'm so inhibited about dancing that when I was losing weight, I bought a DVD that would allow me to exercise by dancing.  Even with the house empty and the curtains on the windows closed, I found I could not do it.

So the years have passed and I have danced through them in my head, but never in real life. Now I really am too fat to enjoy it. In addition to the embarrassment of not knowing what I’m doing, there are the real aches and pains that make it more like a chore you have to do, rather than something fun to do. The worst thing you can say to me today is "do you want to dance?"

When I get to heaven, maybe there will be some dancing shoes waiting for me and I can finally do all the dancing I’ve only done in my heart here on earth. Maybe Paul will sing and David will be there to swing me around.

Now that sounds like a pretty good "heaven" to me!

(But then if I looked like  Kate Moss, I might not care what I looked like when I dance. --  be prewarned that this is a topless video of Ms. Moss)



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(Well, I'll dance at my son's wedding!)

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