Tuesdays With George Thatcher, Our Resident Bad-Ass In Raiderland! ”Shall We Dance”? A Coming Of Age Story That Never Ends, No Matter How Old You Are!

Shall We Dance?

Not long ago, I was sitting at the bar during our weekly happy hour, enjoying a drink and listening to that good old country music coming from the band area. It occurred to me that they were playing a pretty danceable tune, so I began to look around for a likely partner. There she sat, queenly and elegant, a real Miss America from a few years back. I zeroed in on the target and walked nonchalantly over to where she sat. She was obviously of a similar mind, because I could see her toes tapping in time with the music. Eager to enjoy a dance with this lovely lady, I went straight up to her and popped the question without hesitation.

And she turned me down.

Flat out, no equivocation in her response, just a simple “No thanks. I don’t dance.” So how does a spurned would-be partner exit the scene gracefully without every eye in the room fixed on him, glaring at him in mute mockery as he slunk ashamedly back to his place at the bar? Well, if there’s a way out without exhibiting one’s total disgrace, I don’t know it. I pressed my handy-dandy Invisibility Button and of course it didn’t work. I tried looking down at the floor, but even there I could see dozens of pairs of judgmental eyes peering up at me. Fortunately, no one had claimed my seat, so I snugged my tush thereon and tried to order a double without looking conspicuous. Even then I could see the disapproval in the bartender’s face. I don’t think I looked up until the musicians took a break, then I made my own break for it.

Humiliation has been the lot of the male gender ever since the first time a cave man asked a cave lady for a little whirl around the campfire while the tom-toms beat out a seductive rhythm Maybe things were a little different back then, but I’ll bet the refusee’s face matched the glow of the campfire as he tried to pull his bearskin up over his lost face. Myself, I’ve experienced this ultimate embarrassment ever since eighth grade, when the school hired a dance instructor to teach our young and callow selves to do the two- step. I was the school’s designated fat boy back then, and I couldn’t have danced close enough to a partner for her to hear me, much less feel my protruding tummy pressed against her tiny little form. We were taught to bow and ask the sweet thing to dance in the formal way. “May I have the honor of this dance, please?” Even back then, the intended partner had the option of refusing, and damned if she didn’t do it. Time after time. To my utter shame. Finally the instructor would have to intervene and choose a partner for me, which was even more embarrassing, as I could actually witness the unbearable loathing on her face as she made the little curtsy of unwilling assent.

But after a time, I began to enjoy dancing. Besides the two- step, we learned to waltz and do the rumba. My quiver slowly filled with the arrows of this new-found hunting game. In a couple of years, now in high school, I discovered that I was the only boy in the class who could dance at all. By then I had grown six more inches while losing most of my baby fat. At the school proms I was now a marketable commodity, and I began to attend all the local Saturday evening “teen age canteen” dances. I was in my new-found element. Still, I carried the scars of my early disappointment as a chunkoid who couldn’t even buy a dance. So I avoided the risk of asking the best-looking girls in school, because I knew the turndowns would be swiftly and unquestionably forthcoming. No matter, there were plenty of Plain Janes left to be waltzed across the floor, so I always enjoyed a certain level of vindication as I slowly grew whiskers and learned to drive.

The enjoyment of dancing has always stayed with me, and over the years I’ve learned a number of new “fad” dance routines, some of which are still favored by people of mature years. Today, if I were to attend a “school” dance, I’d still be turned down by anyone I asked to share the floor for a few minutes. Not that I’m afraid to “ask for the order,” but because young people of the current generation simply don’t know the most basic dance steps. What we used to call a “band” now consists of amplified guitars, basses and drums, all of which make a form of music with which I’m not familiar, and is definitely not appropriate for dancing. At least in the way I remember. I’m still uncomfortable with being turned down, so these nights I select my dance partners only after watching them with someone else. I still believe in doing my research, and in approaching the object of my attention with utmost caution. And it doesn’t hurt to scope out a path of retreat in advance, an escape route that will allow one to blend into the background before drawing fire from the Biddy Brigade.

They take no prisoners, you know, and I want to survive to do battle again.

TwinkleToes Thatcher August 2022

George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt