February 6, 2012

I Am a Dancing Machine

My wife and I have been happily married for over 35 years. We obviously have a lot more in common than not. We are on the same page about finances, raising our daughters, living a simplified life, where to vacation, and what to do to build a satisfying retirement lifestyle.

But in one area we are miles apart. My wife loves to dance and I can't. I don't mean I don't want to. I mean I can't.  I have tried but it is just not meant to be. Here are some examples of efforts made and failures recorded.

Twenty years ago we booked a cruise from Los Angeles down the coast of Mexico. My wife made one request: that we dance in the various clubs that the ship had on board. With half a year before departure we took some swing lessons and went to a local resort that offered weekly opportunities to practice. It didn't work. Yes, I stumbled through one or two dances on the ship but the results weren't pretty.

Living in Arizona means you must own a set of cowboy boots and occasionally go to a western club and two-step. I've tried. The boots never fit and my two-step was closer to six. As folks moved effortlessly around the floor, I drank a beer and enjoyed the music....while sitting down.


Another opportunity presented itself when we planned a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Great Britain. Again, I promised to learn to dance so we could try out our moves in a club or two in London or Dublin. This time I signed up with an Arthur Murray studio, plunked down the money and dutifully went to the lessons every Saturday morning. By the third week I was getting sick to my stomach as the dreaded day approached. Finally, Betty took pity on me and allowed us to skip the last few classes. Except for a few slow dances somewhere overseas, that dancing chance evaporated.


Finally was my gift of dance lessons for a Christmas present a few years ago. Knowing how much she wanted to dance, I gamely agreed to one last shot. Again, Arthur Murray got the money, Betty got her hopes up, and I re-proved I am the owner of two left feet. The last two lessons were left on the floor.

So, what is the problem? I have some musical feel. After all I played piano and then the clarinet for 10 years. I can play the guitar enough to pluck out some Christmas carols. I am not totally without rhythm. It turns out it may be chemicals in my brain. A study released by researchers at the University of Oxford in England claims a tiny amino-type messenger in the brain is partly responsible for those among us who dance like Elaine on Seinfeld. Thank you, Internet. I now have something to blame.




As i approach my 63rd birthday in a few months, I think Betty has finally accepted that my shortcomings on the dance floor are not going to change. Luckily, she claims to have many other reasons, almost as important, to stick with me.

20 comments:

  1. Ditto! I really wish I could dance. Did the same thing as you, prior to 25th anniversary cruise to Alaska, took dancing lessons. Our instructor said the following every week "seems like most of you are getting it". I was the one that was not part of "most". :)

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    1. In my head I am as smooth as Gene Kelly on the dance floor. But, in reality I am much closer to Elaine (see above!). Oh well, it is important to know what you can and cannot do.

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  2. perhaps yoo are like Nevell from the Jerk, you haben[t found you're groove...ronaldj

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    1. I think my groove got up and went. I do love to watch good dancers, though. I'm a real sucker for well done tap and swing.

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  3. Ah, what memories with John Travola's Saturday Night Fever! Thanks for posting the one on Elaine too! Funny!

    I'm impressed that you tried so hard...You must absolutely ADORE your wife!

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    1. I think I'll take your last sentence, Sharon, and show it to Betty whenever we have an argument over something! Yes, she is rather special.

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  4. No, no, no . . . don't give up yet Bob! I am just like your wife - looooove to dance - and my husband was just like you - he played the piano well and therefore had a clear understanding of tempo, but struggled on the dance floor. It took a full year year before he started having fun. (And for which I gave him the "Husband of The Year" award.)

    And yes, he will never by Fred Astaire, but three years down the road he is eons better than when we started and we are having an absolutely wonderful time when we go out dancing. Which we do at least once a month! Sometimes he even makes me swoon if he's really on top of his dance game!

    So, I encourage you not to give up just yet. If you can get through the first year, decades of fun and romantic times together could well be waiting.

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    1. He "makes me swoon." Now that is a goal worth dancing for. Actually, i think my biggest problem is a totally artificial one: others are watching me dance and judging me to be a dork. The reality is no one is paying any attention to how I dance unless I bump into them or pull an Elaine.

      I'm the type of person who doesn't want to do something unless I do it well which is impossible if you don't practice. Silly me.

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    2. Totally get that! We danced in dark corners for a full year for exactly that reason. But something you may not yet realize is that even good dancers have to stop and regroup from time to time. We see it all the time and it always makes us feel better. Another tip is to, yes, practice. Even 15 minutes a day helps it all "stay in there" until your next lesson.

      And once you get down the basics, it's a really inexpensive way to have fun. Our average night out is $20.00 for the both of us, which in our area covers one group lesson plus staying on for open dancing, usually included at no additional cost.

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  5. Nice get -- "Seinfeld - The Elaine Dance." It takes skill to move that bad ... doesn't it Bob? That's my excuse

    !!

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  6. I will bet that Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress who played Elaine, had to work hard to look that bad. It is like someone who can sing but must sing off-key for a particular role....very hard to do.

    That's a good excuse and I'm sticking with it.

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  7. Under the harsh blinding glare of interrogation lights to body function analysis by polygraph; think it, believe it, live it. BE the bad dance ...

    Well, some guys could pull it off. I'm afraid I just look rather unfortunate -- like a cat walking on wet pavement

    ..

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  8. I started laughing at the title and didn't stop. Great post!

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    1. Glad you liked it! Just don't ask me to dance.

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  9. Bob, you can do it. I was once where you are now. The secret is not to care what you look like. Which you shouldn't, b/c no one's paying attention to you anyway. They're looking either at the ladies, or else the really good dancers. Now I dance and really enjoy myself, even though I look pretty bad (kind of like Elaine) -- but like I said, no one notices.

    So keep trying. At the very least, it'll give you more material to entertain your blog fans!

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    1. I know no one cares what I look like..but it stills is a hindrance to my enjoyment. Maybe I should do it again soon and write about it....complete with pictures.

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  10. Now I am sure you can dance. I use to feel the same way and took all the lessons. Nothing worked. Then I said to myself, who cares how I look. I became loose and could dance the night away. I even started teaching the 2 step and cotton eye joe. I practiced at home by myself. You can do it! Hang strong!

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    1. The comments like yours have given me encouragement to ignore my self-consciousness and just bust a move (or something like that).

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  11. Even though you knew for yourself that you couldn’t dance early on in your life, it is sweet that you put in the effort to learn it for you to dance with your wife. I admire you for trying again and again, just to show her how much you love her. Anyway, now that you’ve retired, you might want try again to learn dancing! Waltz may be a good choice, as it is considered as one of the easiest dances to learn.

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    1. I can do enough swing dancing to get through a short song. But, that blasted two step!!!

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