Dance, dance, dance . . .
Do you remember those school dances in junior high and high school? First there was an absolute fear of being asked to dance, then came the complete devastation of not being asked to dance, followed by an hour in the bathroom crying over some zit-covered boy who was oblivious to your existence and who probably wanted to go home and play with his Atari anyway.
There is one night that sticks in my mind because it was the first time someone asked me to slow dance. I didn't want him to—but that's the problem I suppose. We never get asked by the people we want. I guess he was sort of cute, but ruining his looks was a horrible, snively way of speaking. He was a know-it-all. He followed my sister around like a lost dog every day at school. When he asked me to dance, I was completely taken off guard and said yes. It wasn't a problem—my sister liked someone else and was always trying to get rid of him, so it wouldn't have been an issue if I had liked him. But . . . I didn't. Not at all. His hands, draped over my shoulders, were hot and thick with sweat. His glasses were foggy with perspiration. I tried not to meet the eyes behind the clouded lenses because I could tell he was waiting for me to, and God knows what kind of urgent message he would try to pass between us. I remained evasive and quiet, shuffling my feet to the rhythm with an occasional mistep. After a while he muttered something about how I looked nice and I replied with a timid, "Thank you."
The song ended and he tried to get me to dance again, but I told him my friends were waiting for me. "Who cares about your friends?" It rattled me. Why he was being so possessive when I knew that deep down he had a thing for my sister? Did he really want to dance again, or was he trying to make her jealous? If I danced with him again, that would make two on my experience chart. I'd almost be a pro by night's end. I thought about it real hard. He reached for me, but the minute I felt his wet palms, I jerked away. "Sorry, I can't."
I found those friends of mine. They stood in a dark corner, reveling in my sweaty, shoulder-stained glory. I had credentials, real credeantials. And friends have the cool air of life and freedom. It was good to be back.