Dancing with the Stars, the television program that pairs professional dancers with celebrities, athletes, even politicians, was never one of my must-sees. But I watched bits of it, switching from another channel during commercial breaks. In 2006, though, retired NFL Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith caught my eye. A big guy, he was light on his feet. His eagerness to learn was as intoxicating as his super star smile. By the finals, which resulted in Smith winning the trophy, I had changed my routine and watched every second of the show. Since then, no one else has caught my attention and I don't care how the judges vote.
No judge in his right mind would give me a 10 for my dance moves. I'm the one who never left my chair at prom. "Two left feet," an expression my mother used when one of us kids tripped, fits me. Mom sent me to ballet classes to learn grace but I couldn't get the hang of it. Nor did I catch on to the disco moves I was eager to learn in the 1980s when a friend and I registered for a course. Offered on Sunday afternoons at the Edina YMCA, we thought it would be a perfect escape while our husbands watched football. It would have been if I was a quick learner and coordinated like my friend. What possessed me to think I could move like John Travolta? I've asked myself a hundred times. Was I under the impression I'd just have to stand under a mirrored ball and point a finger skyward like he did in the poster promoting Saturday Night Fever?
Whatever the reason, I found myself in a room of people who wore sweat bands and leggings, raring to go. I was, too, but pleaded with my friend to move towards the back. Way over to the side. The instructor stood in front, her backside to us, her voice cheery and energetic. She set the needle on the record. The music started. I couldn't get my feet to move when my arms did as the other students jabbed their fingers in the air, their steps in sync with the teacher. Luckily, the door to a supply closet was open right next to me. I box-stepped to my right and found refuge among the cleaning supplies, tempted to grab a mop to lean on for moral support.
We exited the YMCA and I vowed to never return. My friend suggested stopping at the Rusty Scupper on the way home for a frozen strawberry daiquiri. As we sipped our drinks, she laughed and said we probably should have stopped at the Scupper on our way to class. That sounded good so I forgot about quitting and promised to give it another try. I'd like to say before-class frozen daiquiri gave me courage the following week, loosened my limbs, and I was the breakout star of the class, ala Emmitt Smith. But anyone who's seen me in action knows a fruit-flavored cocktail couldn't untangle my two left feet. I made my way into the closet and didn't come out until the session ended. And kept my promise to never return.