Thursday, December 12, 2013


Phoebe Grace Colket

You say "dancing" I say "Al Pacino".  And that is because........

Years ago, Joe and I decided that it was time that we learned how to ballroom dance.   So, we enrolled in a class in Tarrytown, New York and we dutifully showed up every week for however long the course was.  Our classmates were of mixed nationalities and ages.  Their motivations for learning to dance, also mixed.  Some came to learn in time for a first dance together at an upcoming wedding.  Some, to get out of the house on a winter evening and clearly, a few came with the hope of meeting that special "someone" before retirement.  The teacher was a long, thin and attractive woman with a British accent.  I want to call her Terry. She needed to round the numbers off, allowing everyone to have a partner, so she planted one or two of her favorite male experts in and we were all set.  In addition to dancing with your own partner, each student had to rotate and dance with the other students throughout the evening.  We were taught a different dance every week and of course, the first week started us off thinking this might be fun and we might really be able to master it with an exciting entry into the Disco world. How could we lose when dancing the ever popular "Brooklyn Hustle"?

As the weeks went by, the dances became more traditional and our frustration level grew and grew.  Our classmates, most of them now very serious in their approach, glided through all of the new steps.  The lovely Indian couple seemed to be intent on getting the right postures and facial expressions to match the dance, making it almost impossible to take one of them on as a partner without a complete crack-up. No matter how hard we tried, we could not maintain our composure, most of the time, laughing at our ineptness.  Joe really did try.  But, it was the look on his face, the tight lips, the wall of concentration there, that started my giggles.  Of course, this was all made even more hilarious when we realized why Terry was addressing Joe as "Al".  By Class Two, we thought it was time we corrected her.

"Oh, I'm so sorry.  I can't help but think of Al Pacino when I look at you"

From that day forward, I was the wife of Al-Pacino-Guardino, the one without the billions.  The one who could not Tango with a straight face.  Why could it not have been Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who she saw when she looked at us.  Things might have turned out so differently.

I know that the word "dancing" easily brings happy thoughts to most people, especially to women and children.  The word dance has been used in countless metaphors.  Images of dancing bears, dancing babies, folks dancing with joy, dancing through life, just a small share of the possibilities.  Our misadventures at dance class aside, I have a huge confession.  I do not like to dance.  Perhaps it would be hard to tell if you saw Joe and I doing our own version of a ballroom duet. He twirls me around (one of the things we did learn from the Hustle), we sway and move around the dance floor, giving the appearance that we actually know what our feet and hips are doing.  We have zero idea.  We just get out there and do it and we have fooled many an envious on-looker.  "Oh, look!  They must have had dance lessons" or "There go Lynn and Joe, let's stand here in a circle and watch them.....they really got a lot out of those classes".  One would never guess.

When I asked my good friend Jay to help me with finding my voice for the prompt "dancing", he did what he usually does so well.  He told me how he feels and knew that I would share those feelings in the same way we share our intense dislike of Savannah Guthrie and chain restaurants, about so many things that "other" people love. We both agree that dancing is uncomfortable and awkward and that is is usually associated with something we both really don't like, weddings.  When the dancing got started at the last wedding I attended, I found a place to hide until it was okay to make an early exit.  Loud music, flashing lights, lots of inebriated people jumping up and down, typical stuff that makes me grouchy, not happy. Perhaps I really am growing into my age.

Yes, I do enjoy looking at good, well trained dancers, usually on a stage.  I've seen all of the greats in performance; Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Godunov. I've even visited the grave of Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballet Russe, in Venice.  I've seen about a million performances of the Nutcracker, the most recent, just last week when my two little granddaughters performed. The Alvin Ailey Dancers were near and dear to my heart during my New York years.  But, I defer to the experts.  Their whirling, twirling and leaping through the air leaves me begging for more.  I'm comfortable in my seat and always ready to stand for an ovation at the end of the performance and I rarely find myself grouchy or wanting to hide.

But, there is a happy side to this dance interpretation.  There was one last dance class, one to which  I was not invited.  It was taught by my daughter and she had but one student in that class.  His name was Daddy Guardino and, after all their rehearsals, they brilliantly executed a heavenly rendition of Paul Simon's Father and Daughter, at the third best wedding I've ever attended.  I need not state here which was the first best but I will tell you that the second best was the one that found me dancing with my son, unrehearsed, to Eric Clapton's You Look Wonderful Tonight. Please note that these choices are in the order in which they appeared in my life, not playing favorites here, trust me.

In the arms of our children, Al and I made Fred and Ginger look like Lynn and Joe.  Terry would have been so proud of us.

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