Coordination has never ever been my strong suit. As long as I can remember I have been dotted with bruises and scratches from inability to even walk down a hallway without looking like a pinball ricocheting off the walls. And that’s sober. Add to that my absolute lack of flexibility – again since childhood – and you sort of get the picture. I remember as a kid seeing other little girls my age just bend and morph like a rubber band in backbends and roundabouts — while I painstakingly practiced in my room to attempt it with the same amount of polish. I eventually got the move down, but I suspect I looked like a pretzel about to snap, instead of the graceful swan I envisioned.
Eventually my lack of agility just sort of became a joke, one that more often than not, I initiated. Friends got used to the constant oofs and owws they heard me emit, while attempting to do something as easy as walk into the next room. I became a little vindicated when decades later after seeing doctors for neck and back problems was finally diagnosed with slightly splayed hips, and a a curved spine, which actually had me about 1/8” taller on one side than I was on the other. THIS explained a thousand things. I had been placed in Posture Class as a child because of a curvature of the spine, but we assumed it was fixed when the class was over. I mean for God’s sake, I got a certificate and everything! The upside is that I have pretty impeccable posture when I’m not lazily lying about. It further explained why the heels of my shoes wore in a little faster than outer parts. It explained why “these hips aint made for birthing no babies Mizz Scarlett!” . But no doctors note or diagnosis was going to explain the absolute lack of coordination that I could not shake.
While I may have been able to joke my way thru many things, it was still pretty embarrassing to admit I was “that kid” in any choreographed situation. You’ve all seen him or her. The class pirouettes gracefully to the left and that one child dizzily turns to the right. I related so very much to the antics of Lucy Ricardo when she danced. That was me in a nutshell.
While dancing in the 80’s was perfect for me because it required nothing more than freestyle skills, when line-dancing came into play, it was my nightmare come true. Clubs started offering quick and easy classes before the crowds came in, and I would slink to the back at the end, and there it would be; 15 minutes later everyone had the moves down, and I was still clumsily turning the wrong direction, or slapping the wrong foot. I even took a 8-week line-dancing class with a neighbor friend of mine, who assured me how horrible she was too. I convinced myself that at a slower pace I could master this. The first class we all stumbled about, and I felt right in step. My people! I wanted to exclaim as I saw all the bumblers and muddled freaks gathered into one room, unable to count a step, or turn in time. Even my neighbor friend proved to be as bad as me, and it felt fantastic to be one of the normals for once. I went home and practiced and come the next week I still clomped my way thru the routine. But something happened to the class. My freaks betrayed me and all turned into swans. And again I was the one in the back corner, trying to hide from the synchronized activity that my brain couldn’t grasp. I hung up my line-dancing shoes two weeks later.
A few years later I went with my cousin country dancing. If there is dancing gene in our family, she received it. She can dance them all, and do it with style. Even she couldn’t teach me though. I would go more to keep her company. Get out of being a mom for a moment or two. It certainly wasn’t for the music. Invariably someone would ask me to dance and I would have to explain how I didn’t – how I couldn’t. Most would accept that. Occasionally one wouldn’t. One night a particularly charming and cute one persisted. I would laugh and explain how I really couldn’t dance, and he would explain how easy the two-step was, and how even bad dancing beat no dancing at all. He’d flash that grin that won him dances from everyone, and I’d relent. Of course that part of me that hoped maybe this moment will be it. Maybe now .. would go thru my head. So I agreed and he showed me the one-step, two-step I would need to take and how to follow his lead (another problem I have) and off we would go. The first crunch onto his foot was met with smiles and laughter. Even the next and the next after that. But the more I stepped on his feet, the more I stepped on his feet. My nerves turned me into a clunking foot crushing beast, until even he had to admit it was a lost cause as he limped his way off the dance floor and deposited me back at my bar stool. I wanted to call out to him, “I warned you…!” but he was moving too fast thru the crowd to get away. 😉
Fast forward – I’m still uber klutzy. I still have no flexibility and last night it showed. A group of women my age, all give or take a year or two decide to band together and get a personal trainer for a month. We all seem to have the same slight weight issues, and core instability and it looked like an even playing field. We have our first class last night. Looking about I see we are all about the same size, and all about the same speed, albeit one. We start with stretches here, and planks there, and grab your foot and hold this position. I wonder why my body is betraying me in a fashion that it doesn’t seem to be with the others. Didn’t we all just meet and admit we hadn’t done this or that since Lincoln was President? I want to annihilate them all for being so quick in stretching that leg out and grabbing the foot at the same time. I do it and its immediately an orangutan mimicking the others, and I want to smile really big, flap my lips and blow raspberries to show what a joke this is. The other four, even the one who is a bit more on my level still do this with such nimble dexterity.
I’ll never be the ballerina, and I’m really okay with that. I mean, in a perfect world I’d like to know what’s it’s like to pick up a dance step in 10 minutes and get out there and impress. Hell I’d be happy knowing what it’s like to walk into a grocery store and not slamming my toes into a shopping cart. But I figure it’s like this; Some of us are born to be the proverbial dancers, some of us are the captivated audience, and then — well you always need your comic relief in the form of an orangutan.