I guess it was about five years ago when my daughter decided to get herself married to a lawyer fella’. We were thrilled at her choice of a beau. He was smart, witty and congenial. The engagement was announced and plans got underway for the wedding and reception. I was a proud father blessed and content with life, until it was explained to me that I had to dance with my daughter. In public.
I had never danced before in my life. Not one step. I had performed in bands for other dancers, but had never danced myself.
As the date approached that twist in my stomach got tighter and tighter. Finally I did something that I never would have believed possible for me. I signed up for beginning dance lessons. My wife, who did dance, accompanied me. It was scary, but the instructor was patient and he even helped me design a dance routine for the father-daughter dance. When I brought my daughter to a lesson so she could learn the routine, she floated through it without a second thought – complete with a few smiling snide remarks about my attempt.
Now, my dance struggles is not the subject here. It is just a little bit of an introduction.
One night a couple of weeks before the wedding Marilyn and I went to Texas Country Cooking – not so much for the cuisine, but because they were going to have live music – 50’s and 60’s music.
My wife had a Shrimp Poor Boy and I had a Chicken Fried Steak. (Please note: I also had a salad which canceled out most of the caloric deluge.) And as we ate, we listened to Rockin’ Rod perform those golden oldies.
Now this was a cafe. They are having this Thursday night thing to pull in more customers. It was not a dance hall. But a guy – 60-something years old and his wife – jumped up and started dancing. Now that I was a dance expert, I watched the couple intently.
He was a little overweight – but moved smooth and lightly. She was thinner and danced with a cute rock to her step.
I kept a running commentary with my wife as I watched. “Look. She is doing a double twirl while he does a slow pivot by himself.” For some reason, my wife was watching me more than watching them. “What is that little skip that they do in their box step?” Then he would fling her out, and she would go twirling off into space and he would catch her at the last second by the hand and pull her twirling back into his arms. Cool.
They were good and loose and were having fun. And they were the only ones dancing. The applause after each song was as much for them as for the music. And they were up there for every song dancing their heart out. We enjoyed it.
My wife asked: “Do you want to dance?” I quickly told her no. First of all – this would be ‘Dancing in Public’! I figured I needed to work up to that point. Secondly, it would be ‘Dancing Where Everyone Can See Me’! There is a difference. The philosophy of ‘Dancing In Huge Crowds Where I Won’t Get Noticed’ seemed appropriate.
During a break, we went over to congratulate them on their dancing. They invited us to sit with them. He told us he had never danced a step until 13 years ago. Then when his wife went blind, they enrolled in dance classes and learned how.
Let me repeat that: “When his wife went blind…..”
He went on to say, “…and we have been dancing ever since. In fact, we go to two separate ballrooms every week and ballroom dance.”
My wife explained about how I had never danced was now taking dancing lessons. They complimented me on my courage at learning how to dance at 60 years old. They gave us their phone number and said when ever we wanted to go ballroom dancing with them to give them a call.
Courage? His wife became totally blind thirteen years ago. How did they treat this devastation? They took dance lessons. He jumped into something to encourage and support his wife. She refused to take her handicap lying down. Amazing.
My wife and I talked about this on the drive home. All those twists and turns she did – al those times he would fling her spinning into space and then would catch her hand at just the right time. She was totally blind – and had implicit trust that he would be there for her every time. And he had the dedication to be there every time. I was in awe and humbled.
That gnawing I had in my stomach…the worry about that Father-Daughter dance suddenly seemed silly and petty. That gentleman and his blind wife gave me the courage to stop complaining and just go do it.