A Dancer With No Class

By Daris Howard

My daughter stared at my college transcript. “Dad, did you really take social dance?”
I smiled as I remembered back to that morning on the first day of the semester when a friend, Sherry, knocked on my apartment door. When I opened it, she smiled. “You are just the person I was looking for. Will you take a dance class with me?”
“Sherry,” I replied, “I have a full schedule, and I am a horrible dancer.”
“Oh, come on,” she said. “I’ll help you, and the instructor said a girl can’t add in now without having a boy sign up with her.”
I felt my tension level increase as I remembered my past dance failures. But she smiled and looked at me with her big brown eyes, and despite all common sense, my mental reasoning failed, and I said yes.
“I’ve already had the teacher sign our add/drop cards,” she said, handing me one. “All you have to do is sign yours, and I’ll take them to the registration office.”
I signed, and later that day we went to the class. We quickly found out the reason a girl had to bring a boy. There were 54 girls and 8 boys. Sherry leaned over and whispered to me. “I’m not taking a dance class that is mostly girls. Let’s drop it at the end of the hour.”
I nodded my agreement as the teacher started to explain about the class. “Welcome to Social Dance 204, fourth semester dance.”
I leaned over to Sherry. “Fourth? I thought it was first semester.” She just shrugged.
The instructor continued. “Since this is the final class of the sequence, you will all be expected to know the 12 major dance forms and compete in them. As a final, we will have an in-class competition. Every couple may compete at the campus wide competition if desired, but the couple winning the in-class competition is required to represent us. Your grade will be based on how well you compete.”
I could feel my heart pounding at the thought of competition. I was sure glad we were dropping. When the instructor finished talking, it was time to dance. “Let’s start with something lively,” he said. “Cha Cha, everyone.”
“Sherry,” I whispered, “I don’t have a clue what the Cha Cha is.”
“Just follow what I do,” she whispered back.
I tried to follow, but she was stepping so fast. She would turn in, so I would turn in, but by the time I did, she was turning out. At one point my foot caught her ankle, and she started to fall. I tried to catch her, but, instead, we both went down. Everyone else giggled, and I wished I could disappear. As I helped her to her feet, she said, “Perhaps we shouldn’t wait until the end of the class to sign out.”
While the others continued dancing, we went to the instructor. “This isn’t going to work for us to be in this class,” Sherry told him, “so we would like to sign out.”
We always carried extra add/drop cards the first few days of class, so she handed him hers, and he signed it. I held mine out to him, and he didn’t even pretend he would take it. Instead he said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t sign boys out of the class. You are in for the semester.”
“But I’ve never even had first semester dance,” I said, “let alone second or third.”
“I’ll try to remember that when I do grades,” he answered.
“But I’m horrible at dancing,” I said.
“I can see that,” he replied. “That’s all the more reason you need this class.”
“It’s not fair that…” I started to complain, but he interrupted me.
“I would suggest you find a girl to dance with, and start dancing. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
I looked at Sherry. “I’m sorry,” she said, and she quickly left.
As the instructor stepped to the microphone to announce the next dance, and I stood there feeling scared and apprehensive, a young lady tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at her. She was a nice looking girl, and she smiled pleasantly. “Hi, I’m Ginny. I heard your dilemma. I’d be happy to dance with you if you want.”
I nodded, she reached out her hand, and together we went to the dance floor.
As the memory faded, I turned back to my daughter. “Yeah, it’s hard to believe, but your clumsy old dad actually signed up for a social dance class.”

Daris Howard, award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com. Howard lives in the Rexburg area and is a mathematics professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

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