My first encounter with dancing was in middle school. Good ol' Joel P. Jensen Middle School dances were the highlight of everyone's year, but mine. So much fun for your average kid that was going through puberty and hormonal change. For me, it was my social anxieties worst nightmare. I remember dreading the shit out of having to go to the school dances every year. I felt pressured and forced to go "get jiggy wit it". So I went. My cousin Shanna banana loved watching me squirm. Our whole childhood consisted of her pressuring me to "let loose" and "just try it". She once convinced me to bring my gerbil over to her house to play with her gerbil. Her gerbil had tunnels and what was like a gerbil disneyland in its cage, my poor gerbil only had a wheel it never learned how to use. It was B.D.S. (borderline down syndrome), I swear it. After being conned into bringing my gerbil to her house, her house that was all the way around our block might I add. I quickly started making travel arrangements in my head. BAM! Got it, my mom put everything in zip-lock baggies. So naturally I put my gerbil in a cute and convenient zip-lock bag for the walk to Shanna's house. It was never just a walk with my A.D.H.D. ass, it was a sprint, skip, twirl, spin gerbil in the air and catch it kind of circus act. All I remember was her mom's reaction and facial expression, complete disgust and horror, as she swiftly put the "sleeping" gerbil in a small box, and sent me home to meet the fury of my short fused father Howie. This is the day I learned about death and how the grounding system worked and was going to work throughout my adolescent life. This isn't where the story ended though, sadly enough. This situation had to be scary enough for my parents, having to see their child suffocate the hell out of a gerbil with a zip-lock bag and not feel one ounce of guilt, but then also having a child threaten to kill the others is just a massive red flag! The next morning my mother denied me puffy cheeto's for breakfast, I confidently responded with, "Give me cheeto's, or I'll kill the other gerbil!" I was then on close watch for a couple months to make sure I wasn't a gerbil serial killer.
Shanna banana was an absolute free spirit, where I was a lil' insecure and shy. Hard to believe now, because people can't get me to shut up. It all started when Shanna found out I had a major crush on this boy named Sean, and that I couldn't dance worth a shit. Perfect opportunity for her to point and laugh, right? She disappeared into the dark/bad lighting show that filled the low budget decorated gymnasium. I'm alone. People are dancing around me and I can feel my social anxiety attacking my body and in result it is making my palms and pits sweat. My life! She returns, only to be followed by the teenage love of my life, Sean. And damn he looked good in his K-Swiss shoes and Old Navy polo and jeans. He approaches me, and asks me if he could dance with me the next slow dance. I freaked out, I didn't know how to react. So naturally I made the worst social decision for the situation, I said, "NO! I don't want to dance." Now this response doesn't seem that bad on paper, or in this case, computer screen. But my body language was impossible to misread. I looked like I was shooing a stray dog. I ruined my first slow dance and crush within seconds. Shanna couldn't stop laughing. All is fair when it comes to family embarrassing the shit out of you, right?
This weekend I finally let loose and cut that rug I've been avoiding since Middle School. Worm and me went out with some friends to dance and mingle. By the end of the night Worm was climbing off of a box she was perched up on for the sole reason that was to achieve the highest level of attention possible. I finally had my dancing shoes on and she couldn't believe it, she had to get a closer look. Pointing in shock she came down off her box to see it up close and personal. It was true. I was dancing. Mission accomplished, she actually got me to dance. I'm a natural, sorta, okay not really at all. I'm already nervous about doing it again, damn my social anxiety and lack of dancing ability and skill.