I have never been the graceful type. I’ve never taken a single dance class, worn a tutu* or in any way dreamed of being a ballerina.
My mother intrinsically understood me. While she shuttled my pink-clad from head-to-toe sister to dance class, I was put under the watchful eye of fairly uninterested neighbors, happy to share and explore my sandbox with any and all half-feral cats and my set of lime-green dump trucks. I was not the girliest of girls.
I liked to scuffle. In fact, I can still hear my church preschool teacher, as she lead me to my designated corner once again, saying “God made hands to play with, not to hit.” Good to know. I did run into little Bobby Name Withheld when we were both in college. He stood up to greet me, all six foot two of him, and I finally apologized for beating him up so much when we were children.
So what type of child was I, really? Let’s just say that a few years ago, a friend of mine ran into our old Girl Scout leader. The woman asked about a few fellow troop members. My friend then mentioned my name, and our leader replied, “Oh, what penitentiary is she in?”
The flip side was that I was also a terrible boy. I liked to fight, but didn’t really know how to hit, or even make a fist. I couldn’t catch a ball or play any sport … at all. Turns out I have no depth perception, which makes games like baseball and tennis infinitely more exciting.
Oh, I can fake my way through some things. After years of being kamikazeed by forty- mile-per-hour ping-pong balls, compliments of older brother, I did learn how to send one or two back in self-defense. I also occasionally could make a basket, as long as I stood in the exact same place that I had practiced the shot every single day of my life.
Years later, Son 2, aka Sporty Joe, was at first amazed as we played ping-pong together at grandma’s house. I could return most of his bullet shots. Ha! Right back at ya! As with every sport, he soon figured it out. Lob one, and watch Mom swat two, three or four times as the ball slowly descends, yet never make contact. So Much Fun.
This handicap also helps with the revisionist history of my childhood. Of course I was picked absolutely last for every sport in gym class. It wasn’t that I was such a social oddity, it was that I had no depth perception! Um hmmm.
I still don’t like to wear dresses, haven’t worn heels in years, hate to shop, and am very ungraceful. Painfully ungraceful. I recently tripped over a sidewalk lip and bruised myself quite impressively: skinned knee and shoulder, black eye. In fact, I fall or trip somewhat often, and alcohol is almost always not involved. I also attract dirt and sand like a three year old. My most recent trip to the beach, I was dubbed “Pigpen of the Sea” by friends.
I do, however, love musicals, which of course involve singing and dancing. (I hope this is not too girly of an activity, as I did just recently discover my husband secretly watching Mama Mia on tv.) I used to be a competent singer. Now I am a singer. I never, ever could dance, but oh, I love to try, how I love to try! Why? Because I’m absolutely abominable, and it’s guaranteed to make Hubs laugh. Every so often, I’ll bust out my “bad ballet” moves over morning coffee. Keep in mind, no dance classes EVER.
There also was one memorable scene, which will live on in family infamy, when, at 9 1/2 months pregnant with what looked like triplets (nope, just big old Son 1), I cast aside inhibitions and clothes, and gave hubs a lusty rendition of West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty,” with my own personal modern dance choreography. He will never forget it, no matter how hard he tries.
This week we saw one of my favorite shows, A Chorus Line, at our local outdoor summer theater. Due to the serendipity of being a choir nerd in the late 1970’s, I know the all words to every song. Tomorrow morning I am planning another Hubs attack. I will simply wait until he takes a big gulp of coffee, and I will singingly proclaim “God, I’m a dancer, a dancer dances!” and proceed to do so. I’m predicting a large kitchen clean-up, but it will be worth it.
*Okay, I did wear a tutu once. A few years ago, I found one in the back of my sister’s closet and just had to put it on and model it for the crowd. Sis reminds me that this incident DID involve alcohol … or “too much sun,” in our family vernacular.