we can dance

by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?

Hi kid.

Sorry today sucked so bad for you. We were drawing castles, as I’m sure you remember, because you were pissed as shit about it. You came up to me, your eyes brimming, as you angrily thrust your paper into my face and told me you were FINISHED because YOU CAN’T DRAW CASTLES AND YOU ARE SO MAD ABOUT IT AND YOU CAN’T TRY ANYMORE YOU’RE JUST SICK AND TIRED OF IT. I told you your castle looked terrific, kind of like a technicolor Mordor with something that resembled bananas flanking the left parapets or whatever the fuck I said… and I let you be done with it. Because, fuck all, you did try your damndest and it sucks to repeatedly force yourself to do something you think you’re bad at.

I understood because we all fucking hate to do things we think we’re bad at. From as early as I can remember, I have believed myself to be bad at math. I’m not sure where that came from, it was like first grade, it wasn’t advanced trig, I was counting motherfucking apples. But I took an instant dislike to numbers, I disliked the inability to intuit some fabulous answer other than how many fucking apples there were, and once we got older and started getting timed on our addition and subtraction facts, I was fucked. As an adult I always overtip because, “I waitressed once and I get how hard it is,” but actually it’s because, “I need to round up, take 10% and then double it because I’m shit at math and this is all I know how to do.” But I know I can do math. I’m a smart lady. I’m sure I could have figured out how many flor-stop-schlaugenfreudodoloo’s (conveniently measured in kilojoules) I needed to go under my 6’x8′ rug at Ikea if I had really applied myself, but I CAN’T DO MATH AND I AM SO MAD ABOUT IT AND I CAN’T TRY ANYMORE I’M JUST SICK AND TIRED OF IT.

I took a dance class tonight. Yes, that’s weird because no, I don’t dance. But a friend wanted to take a class and I was two glasses of wine in and decided it would be FABULOUS to take a hip hop dance class while I could still pass as being in the same age demographic as other people taking a hip hop dance class. I used to dance, I loved it. Why had I ever stopped? It was only when the music came on and the male teacher (who was absurdly charming and adorable in a way I imagine all male hip hop dance teachers must be) started shouting instructions I couldn’t understand that I remembered: I stopped because I found myself to be tremendously inhibited and had occasional difficulty discerning my lefts and rights. I do like superlatives, though, and I think it’s safe to say that I won the award for being the Sweatiest, and the Least Coordinated, and, of course, the Most Entertained by Her Own Inability To Do Anything Right. I also regret to say that I think I have ruined Jason DeRulo’s “Talk Dirty” for myself, because it came on my Beyonce Pandora station on the ride home, and I couldn’t even listen to it without thinking of myself shimmying the wrong direction into that nice girl wearing those sweet, throwback dunks.

It kind of breaks my heart though, kid, because I fucking love dance. For as long as I can remember, there have been times when I was struck with the feeling like there is something I needed to express, and that I could only do so through the power of DANCE. But I think somewhere along the way dance got tied into my crippling insecurities involving my body, and my need for others’ approval. And I’m not sure there is anything you can do where your insecurities will hold you back more than when you’re dancing. The girls who were so good in class tonight weren’t the ones who knew all the steps, they were the ones who were so fucking balls-out, “I don’t give a fuck what you think” confident (yes, I shimmied into one of them, to my abject horror. I apologized profusely.) And I might be justified, no, I know I’m justified in saying that I have some major shortcomings as a dancer, but that I could be so much better if I could refrain from shooting myself in the foot while I did it.

At some point this year, you will be forced to draw something again, because you’re in school and school is all about teachers making you do stuff. And one of these days, you’re going to draw something fucking amazing that blows your own socks off and you will probably forget to put your name on it and leave it on the floor somewhere. As an adult, however, no one forces you to do anything, which is usually just fabulous. Unfortunately this also means that, because it would necessitate forcing ourselves to do things we don’t think we can or are scared to do, as adults we very rarely blow our own socks off. Dance class was hard and fun and humiliating and emotional and horrifying, but it made me feel alive in a fantastic and pure “I literally cannot disconnect from what’s happening for one second, or I’m really gonna be fucked” kind of way. I might be missing the gene that allows one to isolate one’s hips in a more sexy and less hula-hoopy way, I may never quite nail my lefts and rights, and perhaps it is not in my future to be Beyonce’s backup backup dancer’s stand-in. But I want a chance to blow my own socks off.

We can’t be good at everything. I don’t know how we forgive ourselves for being shitty at some things, and go about convincing ourselves we’re not as bad as we might think we are at others. I don’t know how to learn to love my body, and I don’t know how to shed my inhibitions. But this is all we get.  So until I figure it out, I’m going to motherfucking dance.


Miss What’s-Your-Name-Again?