Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Me, though? I’m good in a corner. In fact, when dancing is involved, people feel safer if I’m tucked away somewhere. Or better yet, cordoned off
Don’t get me wrong. I love to dance. Much like I love to sing—with a great deal of enthusiasm and no discernable talent. And while I could take lessons in ballroom or swing or even Irish step dancing, I’ve found no classes that teach you to move like that woman in Flashdance. Or, you know, look that good in a ripped sweatshirt.
Dancing is on my mind right now because my younger daughter is getting married this summer. I’ve returned to Zumba class to help me prepare. I figure Zumba will at least put me in the right headspace, though whether the rest of my body follows is, as always, a crapshoot.
My first time back in the Zumba studio, I stake out space in the rear corner, by the door. That way, if the class votes me off the island, at least my exit will be quick.
Only three classmates are wearing a mask, and probably I’m the only one using it as a disguise. Despite this, the instructor recognizes that I’m new. Have I done Zumba before?
Long ago, I admit, when it was first invented.
A friendly woman in front of me turns and admits she is in the same boat. She is approximately 23 years old. Not my boat at all.
The instructor begins class with a grapevine. It’s a simple lateral move. Easy peasy, right?
Sadly, no. The words “left” and “right” mean nothing to me. If someone tells me “turn left,” about half the time I go right. My family has learned that verbal directions are useless. Recently, as I was driving my younger daughter around Philly and entering a highway, Siri told me to go left and I began to veer right. My daughter raised both arms overhead and flung them repeatedly in my direction like one of those airport workers guiding in a plane–especially one who didn’t trust the pilot a great deal. I swerved in the direction of her frantic gestures, clipping a curb, and making her shriek. (Really, the shriek was a bit over-the-top, in my opinion. We got very little air.)
Afterward, I thanked my daughter–still clutching the door handle—for her emphatic arm flinging.
“Yes,” she replied, with more sarcasm than I appreciate from anyone I’ve gestated, “if only there was a simple word that could convey the same thing!”
The Zumba instructor is now pivoting the grapevine in every conceivable direction. True to form, I repeatedly choose wrong, hip-checking the elderly gentleman to my right. (Or…maybe left.) Before class, I’d thought the man was there on a lark. He and his curmudgeonly buddy seemed more interested in cracking jokes than learning to salsa. Not so! I now see that these guys can shoulder-shimmy like nobody’s business.
I’m deeply envious of this skill. On my body, nothing shimmies. Occasionally, I’ve been known to do some good shaking, but that’s mostly on winter mornings before the heat kicks on.
After an hour of Zumba class, though, I feel I’m catching on. I can cha-cha. I can salsa. I can merengue march–as long as you’re not too particular about the merengue part.
At home, I show my daughter my new moves. What does she think? Am I ready for her wedding?
She pauses for a long time before offering, “If only there was a word to convey this.”
And to think, I didn’t even show her the part where I get air.
Thanks for reading my blog post. Feel free to share with your friends. If you haven’t already, use the form below to subscribe to my blog posts.