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Someone Has To Do The Dirty Work

October 5, 2009 Humor No Comments

Hanging out in middle school is like traveling to a foreign country you didn’t really want to visit. The culture is mysterious, the language is strange, and the people dress funny.
And as I learned recently under the pulsating strobe lights of the Marco Forster sixth grade sock hop, they don’t dance like us either.

If you are like me, you haven’t been to a sixth grade dance since…well, sixth grade. I bet you haven’t missed it either. Back in August, I ticked “Chaperone Dances” on the PTA volunteer form. How hard could that be? It’s not like I had to bake anything.

One nice lady clued me in on the golden rule: NO bumping and grinding. If I were to see any B&G infractions, I was to separate the culprits posthaste. I immediately felt comfortable since I figured this would be no different than a Friday night at Renaissance Cafe.

It was kind of dark without the fluorescent lights, which was worrisome. How was I going to spot illicit body contact if I couldn’t see anything? The music thumped, thumped, thumped as background to a maniacal bouncing DJ with knees like duelie shocks. He was busy whipping the kids into a frenzy by throwing cheap Mardi Gras type necklaces into the crowd. I leaned against the wall, smug in my lack of desire for plastic beads.

Then he shouted, “This is for all you M&M fans!” I perked up. I thought he was going to throw candy next and maybe I should be chaperoning closer to the stage. After all I am a big M&M fan. Snickers, too. But he didn’t throw anything. He and the students just bounced along to rap music. Then I got it: Eminem, the musician. Oh.

So far, no dirty dancing. In fact, I was hard-pressed to see anyone actually dancing with another person. The best way I can describe the scene is a massive bouncing throng following Tigger the DJ, or whatever his name was, like he was the pied piper.

“You guys know how to swing?” Tigger screamed. I quietly snorted in disbelief. I can’t even swing. How could they? But the crowd roared an enthusiastic “Yeah!” Does swing involve physical contact? Should I prepare to tear apart true lovers? The music started. I soon realized what swing means to eleven-year-olds: take your partner by the hand, and swing them around as hard as you can. Unceremoniously let them go. With luck, each partner goes catapulting off into the crowd hoping to knock into as many dancers as possible.

So that was what they meant by bumping. Now I understood.

Then Tigger played a slow song. For about twenty seconds, there was a mass “deer in the headlights” reaction. E very kid on the dance floor wanted to bail. One brave couple on the periphery attempted a very stilted waltz. A boy on stage started waving his hands over his head. Every sixth grader immediately followed suit until it looked like the stands at an Angels game. We were all relieved to have something to do.

After the fourth song sung by someone impersonating Minnie Mouse on helium, I realized the only grinding I’d be encountering was the grinding on my eardrums. This was music? I didn’t know these songs. I couldn’t dance to this stuff. Even my kid had deserted me, off bouncing with her friends somewhere, I thought morosely.

Tigger must have picked up on my funk. “Now I’m gonna take you back to 1985!” The crowd cheered. But I knew now that every hurrah simply means, “I’m not in math class!” Still, I was heartened. Finally, at the very end, some real music. Who would it be? Springsteen? The Stones? Lynard Skynard? Fleetwood Mac?

Turns out it was a new song called, believe it or not, “Back to 1985.” Figures. I slumped against the wall. Quickly, I straightened up and pasted on a smile for my daughter who was finally headed my way after ninety minutes of relentlessly avoiding my chaperoning.

I knew I must look like a harbor in the storm to her. She was probably tired, hungry, and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of her first school dance. I bent down to hug her and she shouted words of comfort.

“Don’t forget, Mom. You owe me ten bucks.” The techno pop was blaring so loud; I had trouble hearing her. I’m sure she was telling me how much she loved me.



Mom Living Out Loud

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