Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Dance Partner I Denied

I had a dream last night about my junior year homecoming. It brought up a memory I long repressed.

Those of you that know me, know that I'm a clumsy guy. I think a major reason is my six toes. Most shoe toe boxes are not built to contain number six. Therefore, my sixth toe is usually rubbed numb and my toe nails are always busted up.

Part of my balance issue is not actually knowing where that edge of my foot is. This is why I've also broken toe number six about 30 times and part of the reason why I rarely wear dress shoes.

I realized early that this was a great hindrance to dancing. I went to D.A.R.E. dances as a way to mingle and hopefully make out with girls. Problem was, when I attempted the courting process and would ask them to slow dance, I would step all over their toes. This turned into an ultra-awareness of where my feet were around other people.

So, when I slow dance with ladies, it becomes this awkward zombie shamble back and forth as I attempt to actually move as little as possible so that I don't break those pretty little toes they've shoved into already painful heels.

So back to junior year. I never really went to dances. Never really went to football games or rallies or parades. I never really bought into the high-school lifestyle. I didn't care. I had my group of friends and I was more than happy to drive around St. Charles, sipping milk shakes, and soaking into the hormonal sexual urges that none of us awkward kids ever acted on.

When a dance was happening, I went to haunted houses or movies. The dance didn't even register on my calendar.

Junior year a girl named Autumn in my English class caught up with me while I was walking out of the building for the day and sheepishly asked if I would be her date.

I didn't have a canned response for this. I figured since I wasn't planning on asking anyone, I was free and clear. I started sweating and sort of choked out a, "I don't really go to dances. I don't think I can be your date."

She looked really disappointed. Being a guy on the asking end of things, I know how the sting of rejection feels.

I remember walking around my neighborhood later that week. I often would grab my Walkman, blast one of my mixed tapes, and walk around for a few hours on nicer nights. I ran into a group of girls I didn't know. They stopped me and said, "Are you the guy Autumn asked to homecoming?" I replied yes and just kept walking.

I guess there's some deep seated guilt for that moment. I wish I would've invited her to do whatever activity I was going to do besides the dance, or sucked it up and gone to the dance, or at least when I saw those girls, ask if Autumn was around so I could apologize.

I must be out of my mind, reminiscing about teenage guilt.