Notes from the Ballroom

by Jessica

dancing shoe

“I tried respectfully tapping Eileen on the shoulder, with a polite expression on my face as if to say, “Hey, I’m really not trying to steal your boyfriend or anything, but if I don’t dance with him I may get an F in the only class that will let me graduate without taking Auto Shop for the Mechanically Challenged.”

Dear Readers,

Happy Monday! Here is the next installment of “Notes from the Ballroom.” I hope this story isn’t too girly for my male readers. But male readers, bear in mind: you can pick up a lot of good tips on how to handle women by reading or watching romantic comedies. My brother and my grandfather, for example, have both benefited enormously by advice on women from me and my sister. They are both now in wonderful relationships, for which we hold ourselves largely responsible. One quick tip for the day: if you are a man and you learn how to dance (not as hard as it looks, with a few classes) you will increase your level of attractiveness to women by about 500%. And a second tip is that while you are learning this skill, you should apply more deodorant than you think you need. Happy reading,

Jessica

Notes from the Ballroom

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Went back to ballroom dancing class today, and forty-eight of the women had dropped the class. This was not a development I had foreseen, but is excellent. Now we get to dance longer, which is good, because I need lots of practice. Today when Ms. Wilhelmina said, “kick your right foot up in the air,” I accidentally kicked both my feet up in the air, and fell over. Fortunately I was dancing with Elsie, who caught me before I hit the ground. I also danced with Richard today. Richard is a very intelligent person. He is not athletic and likes to conserve energy. Today, as we were dancing the Cha Cha Cha, Richard appeared thoughtful. Finally he said, “You know what? This is a dumb way to dance. On the ‘cha cha cha’ part, we don’t move. We just stay in one place. Why take three whole steps if we’re not even moving? We should only take one.”

“Yes,” I told Richard, “but then it wouldn’t be the Cha Cha Cha anymore. It would only be theCha, and it would look stupid, and I’m not doing it.”

Some people really think too much to make good ballroom dancers.

In a dancing class with such a striking gender imbalance, you get to know the males in the room very quickly. Elliott is the shy one. So far, Elliott he has not said one word to a single girl in the class. When you dance with him you can’t actually hold his hands because it makes him nervous. He turns bright red and all the veins on his neck pop out, and he breaks out in hives and stops breathing. We have to be careful about dancing with Elliott.

Darcy, I secretly suspect, has a dark history. Everyone else suspects it too, because in conversations he has a strangely familiar knowledge of the inner workings of street gangs. The left side of his face is completely deformed where he was attacked with a knife and had his eye gouged out. On the side of his face that still has an eyeball, Darcy is extremely good-looking. We all enjoy dancing with Darcy.

Marco is the male in the class with whom most of the girls have danced least. Marco is Eileen’s boyfriend. Marco very rarely dances with anyone except Eileen. Yesterday in class we were doing the rotating rumba, where nine couples stand facing each other, leaders on one side and followers on the other. Every five minutes Ms. Wilhelmina shouts out “rotate,” and the followers are supposed to switch to the next leader. When it was my turn to switch to Marco, however, Eileen did not rotate. They weren’t dancing right, either. Ms. Wilhelmina was playing a fast song, but Marco and Eileen were just swaying back and forth, staring into each other’s eyes, which is not how the rumba is performed. “Rotate,” Ms. Wilhelmina had clearly said, and since Marco and Eileen were the last couple in line, Eileen was supposed to rotate out of the dance. But she stayed clamped to Marco like a barnacle on a rock. I felt awkward about physically forcing my way in between them, but on the other hand, every time we switch couples Ms. Wilhelmina comes by and gives us a star if we’re dancing properly. So if I had just left the dance floor and skipped my dance with Marco, I would have definitely missed one out of nine possible stars. As anyone in the class can tell you, I am not in any kind of position to be intentionally losing stars. I do not have the luxury of being understanding about things like love.

I tried respectfully tapping Eileen on the shoulder, with a polite expression on my face as if to say, “Hey, I’m really not trying to steal your boyfriend or anything, but if I don’t dance with him I may get an F in the only class that will let me graduate without taking Auto Shop for the Mechanically Challenged.” It’s not like I would actually have tried to steal Marco. He smells like an enormous crawdad, and has a tendency to drool on one side of his mouth, where his lip sticks out unusually far. But Eileen didn’t even look up or respond to me, and neither did Marco when I attempted to communicate with him. There they were, not behaving at all like two individual, intelligent people, but more like one giant person, with no brain, and there I was, stranded, inadequate and partner-less in a line of nine happily revolving couples, like an extra planet stuck in between Neptune and Pluto in a “What’s wrong with this picture?” cartoon. I tried shouting their names but they didn’t respond. It was a no-win situation. So eventually I did the only thing I could think of (under the circumstances) which was to put my hands on Eileen’s waist, and dance with them. The three of us danced together, swaying back and forth slowly while everyone else did the rumba. When Ms. Wilhelmina had made her way down the row of couples and down to where the three of us were dancing, clearly not doing the rumba, she stopped the music with her remote control and said, “What in the name of ‘ell eez these type of rumba sew-posed to be?”

Naturally I thought Eileen or Marco might step forward to explain, since I was the victim of the situation, but they just blinked innocently at Ms. Wilhelmina and didn’t say a word. Everyone in the ballroom turned and stared at me.

“What are you doing?” Ms. Wilhelmina demanded, peering at me as if I was some sort of alien species. “Deed I not tell you at the beginning of my class zat ballroom dancing eez a two-person dance? Zee two-person dance eez meant to be danced weez two people, not three! How is zees couple supposed to do ze rumba with you clinging on to them from behind, like large black snail weeth no shell?”

Jasper cleared his throat.

“She means a leech,” he explained, helpfully.

I lost five stars.

You would think human beings would have a little more nobility, and not let others get blamed for their actions. Next time I’m supposed to dance with Marco, I’ll bring along my croquet set and club Eileen out of the way with a mallet. 

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