It's Funny 'Cause I'm Kind Of A Retard
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Back When I Danced

I'd gotten my hair cut too short the year before, a mistake that turned into an unfortunate mullet. I spent all of 7th grade trying to grow it out. Long curly hair with giant teased bangs was the standard of beauty at my junior high, neither of which I could attain.

Our school regularly had dances, about one every six weeks. They'd push all the tables out of the cafeteria and turn the lights off and bring out some strobes. It was a money maker for the school. It cost $2, I think, to get in, and damn near every body came, all grades 6-8. The strains of the day were Tony, Toni, Tone and Boyz 2 Men, with a little Whitney thrown in for good measure. I'd dance with my friends to the upbeat songs, decked out in a flourescent yellow shirt and tight-rolled stonewashed jeans. The girls would dance in a circle, one brave soul willing to try a new move, only to have the entire circle copy her style. Middle school was about conformity, and no one wanted to be made fun of. It was this junior higher's scariest thought: "Is someone out there making fun of me, even in their mind?"

Then later in the evening they'd change it all to slow ballads. "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" or maybe a sweet country song. Obivous couples would immediately pair up, mostly the 8th graders. Kids with crushes would linger near each other until one of them drug the other by the hand, pretending not to like it all the while. I would sit with my back against the wall and watch, and sometimes cry.

I don't know why, but I always ended up crying at school dances. And it wasn't as though I had some mad crush on someone who jilted me for a bigger haired broad, it was that I never danced with any boys ever. No one ever asked me to slow dance with them. I would buy a Sprite and a Snickers and watch as the 8th grade girls, with their blossoming everything, would place their heads on the boys' shoulders and just sway. I thought it would be wonderful if someone would want to stand and sway with me, in front of the entire school.

There was this 8th grade couple, she a model and he the captain of the football team. She was tall, but he was taller, and they truly looked like real live adults. She'd wear very grown up clothes, and he already had to shave every day. The two of them danced like a couple of old pros, spinning and dipping and all that jazz. They were often the focal point of the room, wowing everyone with their skills. But they'd also stand crotch to crotch and kiss each other deeply on the dance floor when no teachers were looking. He mouthed her hungrily, and it only made me cry that much harder.

But I always went back. School dances were not to be missed. That little ritual went away in high school, replaced only by prom, where no one danced anyway, just figured out the best and quickest way to get drunk. Anyway, I overheard a twelve year old talking about wanting a shorter skirt than her mother would allow to wear to the dance, and all that came flooding back.

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I only went to one dance in Jr. High. By the time I was totally dance-worthy (8th grade) I was back at the Christian School where dancing was forbidden.

Oddly, though, I did eat a snickers and drink a sprite at my one school dance. Seriously. Isn't that wierd?

Oh. I didn't dance with anybody either.

I wasn't into Snickers, or anything with peanuts or shell nuts, back then, but yoooooo mama am I addicted to Snickers now. I just tried that Cherry Vanilla Coke that they've been advertising all over the Pittsburgh DMA, and let me tell you, that is their only passable attempt at those quasinostalgic flavored Cokes. And it is mighty fine!

But anyhow, no Sprite and Snickers for me back then. I went to 4 high schools in 3 states, so I don't know the norm as far as how and when dances are conducted. I do know that the boarding school in Arizona I went to in my senior year had lots of them, and I went to them all, except prom. I enjoyed the loud music. I was never hung up---or very interested, even--with the whole dating scene. I guess I just moved around too much. Plus, at all four schools, I was the only disabled person (spina bifida), so I never thought to bother with that. I did, however, very much enjoy the loud music (they played lots of 80's, which is the bulk of what I listen to, even in 1994), and really liked seeing everybody all prettied up (although now it sickens me that parents will allow teens to spend hundreds on a dress for a stupid dance). One quirk of my school in Arizona is that all the high school kids liked to line dance. Hokey, but really cool and really Zonie as well.

Prom I skipped out on just because my grades were bad and I was ashamed to ask my parents for $60 to go to it, even though they later said they'd have encouraged me.

So that's my story. :p

Aw, to think there was probably some shy guy wondering how to ask you to dance, and wondering why you always cry when you eat snickers.

You were so not alone. The girls bathroom was the crying station. You never knew who you'd find bawling in there. I made more than a few trips there myself because I wasn't quite up to the junior high standard of beauty. But I do remember the one and only time that someone cool asked me to dance - it was to the Covergirls' "Promise Me." Oy.

Very nice.

Ryan

We like your blog so much we've declared you a goddess and linked to you. Wish you'd write more often.

Mary and the Widow's Son
SacredFems.com

..what a great story! That actually took me back..I was in Germany for 8th-11th grade and the dances were just like that...I dragged someone to the dance floor and I KNEW she acted like she didn't want to..but now..I KNOW the truth...darn her...whateverhernameis.
Anyhow, very well written.
~d420

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