You’re not dancing. What’s wrong with you?
We live in a generally accepting culture, where we understand that everyone is different and we all have our own opinions and preferences. We don’t refuse to associate with someone just because they wear flannel shirts, listen to Maroon 5 or hang their toilet paper backwards. We tolerate their different tastes. Well, usually.
There are two areas where people refuse to accept difference: drinking and dancing. I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Every time I’m out and order a nonalcoholic drink, though, I have to explain why, because saying “I don’t drink” is seen as bizarre as saying “I knit my own clothes from dead kittens.” I can’t simply say I don’t drink like I can say “I don’t like reggae.” It needs further explaining.
Oh, so are you a raging alcoholic? Did you pass out in an alley and wake up in a bathtub of ice with your liver removed?
I don’t drink because I used to make a lot of bad decisions while drinking. I was also never good about drinking responsibly so I decided that if I can’t be responsible, I won’t drink. It’s simply weighing risk-reward. That was over 3 ½ years ago and I haven’t had any alcohol since, until last night.
Last night I was at a wedding. It was a wonderful event and the ceremony and reception were both flawless. But then I was caught being different. I was sitting in my chair even though the MC very specifically told people to hit the dance floor, and we all know you must obey the MC! I tried to explain it by simply saying “I don’t dance,” but that wasn’t good enough. People don’t allow it. People will allow you to not drive, to not have children, to not vote, or to not watch TV, but they can’t let you not dance. It’s not seen as a decision so much as a bad habit they must help you break.
There’s always that one person who considers it their duty to get me dancing against my wishes. You’d never do that with anything else. Hey, I know you said you’re allergic to shellfish but that’s because you’ve never had my lobster ravioli. Here, eat up! This time it was the job of my friend Lori, who I couldn’t be mad at because she’s probably the kindest person in the world. Her main coaxing technique was pointing out what a great time I would have dancing with a specific person out on the floor.
“Come on. (Name redacted) is out there. You should dance with her!”
Of course, that would be a horrible idea. If I’m interested in (name redacted), which I never actually admitted, the last thing I can afford is for her to see me dance. You see, I don’t avoid dancing because I’m some asshole that wants to ruin your wedding. I avoid it because I am terrible at it. If I like her, I want her to see me in ways where I look good, and dancing does the opposite of that. Again, it’s risk-reward. The reward of having fun dancing with her is outweighed by the risk of having her see me as a bumbling, rhythmless embarrassment.
The only person who understood was my Evil Boss. “I totally get it,” he told me. “I got the White Man’s Disease, too, and the last thing we want is to look like that guy.” He pointed to some guy in his 20s who I assume was dancing but looked more like he was having a mild seizure. They say you should dance like no one is watching, which he definitely was. The problem is, people were watching. And judging. And I’m pretty confident he didn’t get any phone numbers that night.
I’m not saying I never dance. I have before, but no coaxing, prodding or guilt trips can get me to do it. There is only one thing that can get me to dance, and that’s booze.
“So go take some shots and get out there,” my Evil Boss said.
“I can’t,” I reminded him. “I don’t drink.”
“You don’t? Why not? What the hell is wrong with you?”
Eventually, I had to make a decision: Either break both of my rules or continue to watch other people dance while I sit in my chair. So I reacquainted myself with beer. I thought, having gone without a drop of alcohol for 3 ½ years, hard liquor was a bad idea, so I kept going to the bar for new bottles of beer. I was running out of time, though, so I had to drink fast.
After I downed enough drinks to where I was actually ready to dance, I went outside with my friends for some fresh air. When we went back inside a slow song was playing — perfect! Slow dancing is one thing I can do and as long as I don’t step on her feet I should be good! Well, it would have been perfect, that is, if that song wasn’t called “The Last Dance” and it if hadn’t been almost over.
After listening to awful songs by Usher and PSY, the first slow song of the night was the last song, and I missed it. I was finally drunk enough to dance and it was too late. I looked over at (name redacted) to see if she’d like a 30-second slow dance, but she was getting ready to leave. Folks reading at home, if you take nothing else from this, remember the moral of the story: that DJ sucked.
(For never before seen footage of me dancing, click here).