Entries in Friendship (1)

Thursday
Jan162014

Ethno-frantic

 

Many years ago, Mrs. G. and her friend Ann signed up for an ethnocentric dance class at a small studio in Seattle. They had no dancing history together so agreeing to participate in this activity was near heroic in Mrs. G's mind. The last person who had seen her dance was Mr. G. -- 14 years earlier, both of them loose limbed from lust love and Tanqueray martinis. When it comes Mrs. G's dancing, Mr. G's fresh devotion undoubtedly blinded him to the spectacle. Unlike the suggestion of inspirational posters in every therapist's office in America, Mrs. G. wishes she could dance like nobody is watching. But people watch. They can't help it. Mrs. G's style is the whitest white bread with an unpredictable break in to the Swim. It's well intentioned but stilted and, honestly, distressing.  

So she was nervous when she picked up Ann to drive to class. Mrs. G. felt vulnerable but determined to shift their friendship to a deeper level -- the level of affirmed affection and lifelong loyalty known as potential humiliation. Ann, a good dancer (Mrs. G. had admired her several times from the edge of the dance floor), was cool, even. No sweat, Mrs. G. thought, no sweat

But sweating commenced when she and Ann walked into the class in jogging pants, ratty t-shirts and running shoes only to be faced with a somewhat threatening number of women in leotards and dainty little, Mrs. G. isn't sure what they're called, so she'll call them dancing skirts for small asses, the short flowy kind usually paired with ballet slippers and messy chignons. It looked like two northwestern hillbillies had crashed the Bolshoi. Both clearly nervous and avoiding direct eye contact with anyone, including each other, slipped off their shoes and took their place in one of the four long lines of lithe women. She can't speak for Ann, but Mrs. G. knew she was up a creek. No paddle.

Within seconds of the stretch warm-up, the pounding of bong drums heated up and the teacher began swinging her hips and waving her arms like this...

It only got worse from there. Mrs. G. and Ann were frantically running and jumping and twirling diagonally across the dance floor. Mrs. G. is reluctant to say this for obvious reasons, but Ann looked as stupid as she did. They stood out in the crowd, which isn't always the desired outcome when you are uncontrollably shaking your butt against your will.

When the class finally ended, she and Ann put their running shoes back on (again avoiding eye contact, even with each other) and headed out the door to a bakery a block down the street. They didn't say a word until they sat down at a table with their chocolate croissants and decaf. They were at a friendship standstill -- unsure if the other liked the class, not wanting to torpedo her joy or acknowledge that the relationship would have to end if she did because come on.

"Whew," said Mrs. G, "that was an interesting class."

"It was," said Amy. The benovolent standstill continued.

"I'm not really sure what to say," Mrs. G. said, inching closer toward the truth.

"Please don't make me ever come back," said Ann.

And with that, the friendship was cemented.