Friday, February 14, 2014

Observations at the Dance

Photo courtesy: Adwriter

A few weeks ago, I reread Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, which I can’t recommend enough. If you’ve ever wondered what writers mean by “voice”, here is an example juicier than a 72 ounce steak. The narrator, Eva Khatchadourian, takes us on a harrowing journey through the dark side of motherhood as she helplessly watches her bad seed develop from a miserable, screaming babe to a mass murderer.

Oh, Kevin is a very, very naughty boy. As a middle school student, he attends a dance at which his mother is a chaperone. When one badly dressed girl dares to take to the floor for a solo flight, Kevin sidles up to her and whispers something in her ear that instantly transforms the buoyant dancer into a one-wing bird floundering about in bewildered pain.

Luckily, at my daughter’s Sweetheart Dance last night, I witnessed the opposite. Sitting on the sidelines, regulated to coat rack status and wishing mightily for a pair of earplugs, I watched kids ranging from age 6 months to 11 years boogie their way through the likes of Katy Perry’s Fireworks, Cotton-Eye Joe, and, of course, The Cupid Shuffle.

One young lady caught my eye, maybe because of her confident moves, maybe because of her bold, black-and-white striped sweater dress. Combined with black tights and black boots, this flaxen-haired third grader was stylin’. I could easily see her wearing a larger version of this ensemble ten years hence, sashaying down the halls of high school as a card-carrying member of the in-crowd.

I didn’t see the miniature fashion plate for long before she was swallowed up in the crowd. The small auditorium was packed with nearly a hundred kids and parents, and my main concern was keeping tabs on my seven-year-old who, thank God, didn’t want me within twenty feet of her and her friends. I’m not a dancer.

Near the end, I saw Miss Black-And-White Stripe again, but this time she was with two other kids: a girl sporting a simple t-shirt and jeans instead of sequins, her hair a tangled mess, and a plump boy with a pained look on his face, possibly on the verge of tears. Blondie had grabbed each of their hands, making a circle of three. She then led her charges in a joyous jump session to the mind-blowing beat of whatever song the DJ was assaulting us with at the moment.

I don’t know if some kind adult put her up to it. I don’t know if those two other kids were in her class. But seeing their faces go from awkward, please-get-me-out-of-here grimaces to smiles of joy as they bounced up and down was beautiful. Just beautiful.

So, which are you? Dancer or wallflower? 


  1. I wish I could dance. I'm more of a wallflower. It sounds delightful to let go, though.

  2. One of each, depending on which decade I'm talking about and the kind of music.


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