The first dance


Confession is good for the soul, so here goes. My first confession: there’s another lady in my life younger than The Wife. Our relationship started with a brief encounter in a crowded room what seems now to be a lifetime ago. Since then we’ve spent a lot of time together.

Now, my other lady and I are about to do something even The Wife and I have not done in over 18 years of marital bliss. We’re going out on a date: dancing. My second confession: I don’t know how to dance.

For those of you who are now staring at this column asking, “How can he cheat on his wonderful wife?” the answer is anything but simple. I’m not really cheating. The Wife approves of our date. In fact, she is taking my special lady out for a manicure and pedicure, escorting her to the hair salon for a cut and style, and helping her shop for a new dress, shoes and, of course, that ever important pink clutch.

For the rest who are asking, “How can he not know how to dance?” that answer is simple. I wasn’t born with two left feet; my fate is far worse. I was born without any rhythm.

Oh, I’ve tried many times to overcome my disability, but each attempt ended in embarrassment accompanied by the endless laughter of onlookers.

The first such spectacle caused by my inability to dance came at Mt. Olive’s Elementary School fifth-grade dance. That’s when I asked Candi Sample to dance, and surprisingly she accepted. She had been my girlfriend since the third grade, but I was the only one who knew it. During our dance together would be the perfect time to profess my love. Or so I thought.

Preston Weston III had actually taken her to the dance, but after four cups of punch, he had to go to the bathroom, leaving Candi alone.

After asking her if she’d like to dance, we made our way hand in hand from the sidelines onto the dance floor. It was really the middle of the lunchroom, but with all the tables and chairs moved against the walls, the lunchroom actually made for a right nice makeshift ballroom. Everything was going great, right up to the point the music started and I started to dance.

Some onlookers thought I was having a seizure and needed medical attention. Others thought I was in tremendous pain because of the way I was twitching. All the kids laughed, and the more I danced, the louder the laughter. Candi was embarrassed, I was mortified, and upon his return from the bathroom, Preston Weston III was mad.

To say my first attempt at dancing was a horrible experience would be an understatement. The incident scarred me for life.

Not wanting to give up on dancing, or Candi, I finally thought I was ready after years of practice in front of my bedroom dresser mirror. The Junior/Senior dance at Briarwood High School, home of the Mighty Buccaneers, was to be held in the gym. It would be the great unveiling of my honed dancing abilities.

During the evening, I asked Candi out on the gym floor. She hesitated for a moment, surely remembering the incident from the fifth grade before saying yes. Moments later I started to dance. The laughter that erupted chased me all the way out the gym doors, spilling out unto the street. I walked home alone, laughter ringing in my ears and vowed never to set foot on a dance floor again.

My third year at college, I gave dancing one last try by signing up for a ballroom dance class. On the first day, the two instructors said that they had never met anyone they couldn’t teach how to dance. Three months of hard work later, the class was over and the instructors said they would never forget me. I was the first person that they couldn’t teach how to dance.

It wasn’t their fault. I was born without any rhythm. That was the last time I danced and vowed never to try again.

That vow I’ve kept for the last 40 years, but on Feb. 9, I’ll once again dress in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and slip on my dancing shoes. For you see, I’ve been asked to go to a special dance by a very special young lady.

Our granddaughter, Little One, has asked her Big Papa if he would go with her to the Valentine’s Day dance at her elementary school. It will be in the lunchroom. All the tables and chairs will be pushed aside to make a makeshift dance floor.

Once again my lack of dancing abilities will be on public display for all to see. But this time it won’t matter, for the last three weeks, I’ve had a new dance instructor.

She stands just shy of four feet tall with long, blond, curly hair and the prettiest blue eyes you ever did see. Little One thinks her Big Papa’s dancing is just fine. She said, “Papa, just stand there and help me twirl.” Standing — I can do that.

Being a gentleman, I’ll drive and open doors for her. She’ll be in her new dress, and new shoes, holding tightly to a pink clutch, and one dainty wrist will be adorned with a corsage from me, her date.

It will be her first dance. It will also be my first dance with her. The first of many, I hope, with our two granddaughters. The Wife will also be there. She will be taking pictures.

I’m sure Candi and Preston Weston III will not be there. And the laughter at my dancing skills that has followed me tirelessly through the years will be absent also.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]