One of the advantages of growing up in a small-town Southern Baptist Church is that I had a built-in excuse to avoid a particularly distasteful rite of passage for junior high boys: ballroom dancing classes. While many of my Methodist and Presbyterian and Catholic friends were dressing up in uncomfortable shoes and putting on coats and ties to go stumbling around a dance floor in the uneasy grasp of girls, I was smiling and hiding behind the unquestioned alibi, "oh, we're Baptists, and, you know...Baptists don't dance."
Never mind that my family wasn't really dogmatic on that particular issue, especially not when compared to, say, those Church of Christers, who really frowned upon such activities. It was still an excuse that worked...was never questioned...and it had the result of freeing my time for more worthwhile pursuits, like, well, anything else but dancing with girls.
Fast forward several (never mind how many) decades, and I'm now realizing the shortsightedness of that avoidance strategy. I can't dance, and neither can MLB, being the good Baptist girl she was and is. (I didn't know her in junior high, but I assume that she also effectively played the religion card to gain her status as Conscientious Non-Dancer.) Oh, we went to plenty of dances together in high school, but if you recall the style of the psychedelic Sixties, you'll understand that such undertakings only reinforced the concept of the dance as arrhythmic twitches and spasms (sort of like Elaine's dreadful displays on "Seinfeld," only without the coordination).
The irony of the situation is that we'd love to be able to dance, now. Movies like "Strictly Ballroom" and "Shall We Dance?" stir feelings of regret at our lack of dancerial repertoire. The latter movie, in particular, tantalizes one with visions of what could be, if only...
Well, it's perhaps forty years too late, but we're going to try to change that void in our lives. Following the lead of some friends who are contemplating their daughter's upcoming wedding and the concurrent fear of being able to proffer only "the Elaine Dance" at the reception, we're gonna, by gum, sign up for ballroom dance lessons at the local community college. This will, without a doubt, be the hardest thing we've ever done as a couple, and I pray that our marriage is strong enough to withstand the inevitable strain and pain.
I'm not naive enough to think that I'll be transformed into Richard Gere, who lulls the audience for "Shall We Dance?" into thinking he's not the gifted hoofer he really is, and MLB certainly doesn't have J-Lo's training or natural ability, but perhaps with enough work, we'll someday be able to take one turn around the floor at her company's Christmas party.
Just don't tell any of our Baptist friends. They'll be jealous.
I realize that I'm really painting myself into a corner by posting this. Let's just say this is my way of whipping up a little accountability to make sure I really follow through. I'm sure you'll let me know if I don't.