want to dance

“Do you want to dance?” she asked.

When asked this question by a female I’m not that attracted to, my usual reaction is an uncomfortable paralysis combined with a shake of the head.  It’s a reaction I know to be stupid.  It’s just a dance.  It’s not marriage.  Perhaps it’s the thought of family, or new vague acquaintances observing the dance from the fringes and making readings.  “Isn’t he single?  And she is too..?  Oooh.”

Fuck off.  Leave me alone.  Don’t make me the subject of your reality television show.  It’s just a dance, ok?  I would burn crimson under the glare and hope it wasn’t obvious under the dark lighting.  Wouldn’t I?  Or would I ease into it, gradually not care?  Just be cool?  Learn to have fun?

Better not risk looking like a colossal dickhead anyway.  Because then… If that happens, then..  Oh shut up, brain!  Just, no!  Ok?

Unlike in my kitchen, here I would dance like the whole world was indeed watching and closely scrutinising, which I understand to be preposterous.  But I cannot not care when I do care.  This means there can be issues when it comes to letting go.  In some respects, yes, I am uptight.  You never would have believed it.

I’ve only ever been comfortable dancing with good friends in public venues when I’m drunk.  These are my unwavering criteria.  At weddings I never achieve such a level of comfort.  Either at a wedding where I know many people, or at a wedding where I know only a few, the more stagey nature of the dancefloor repels me.

With this offer to dance, my instinct had been firmly saying No, right from the outset.  Honking great Drunken-Lunatic sirens screamed in my head as she introduced herself, and didn’t dim as we spoke.  She wasn’t at all unattractive, a few years younger, red-faced, an easy grin, high intensity, over-animated, trying hard, undeniably drunk.  Having said this, she was entertaining to chat to and responded well to my own, not unlubricated banter.

I grew steadily aware that this was probably her, the girl my cousin had mentioned trying to set me up with twelve months or more before.  And there she was now in her striking bride’s dress, just over the girl’s shoulder, sneaking illicit glances at us.

Was the wedding, the belated consummation of a 20 year relationship which had already borne two children, merely an excuse to bring us together?

No, you fool.  Ludicrous.

My brother had mentioned it earlier in the week, voiced the possibility that our cousin was in charge of the dinner seating so that girl she’d tried to set me up with..  I’d shrugged and chuckled; the thought had occurred to me too but I’d been on enough crap dates to be able to cope.  As it turned out she only attended the evening party and wasn’t there during the meal, or indeed the service.

She found me again after she’d given up trying to cajole me onto the dancefloor.  I was pathetically nursing a whisky and reading a children’s football magazine, evidently not caring about looking a prick in that sad loner man way, my natural climate.  The magazine clearly only had a fraction of my attention and I was as much indulging in drunken self-analysis, as I was reading about Frank Lampard’s favourite film.  I was there to have fun, to party.  Why wasn’t I?  What was stopping me?  What was this annoying enjoyment paralysis thing and how could I rid myself from it?  More alcohol?  I didn’t really want more alcohol.  Why not?  Why couldn’t I have an addictive personality?  I’d be more interesting and magnetic if I could do things to excess and not care.  But I boringly know my limits, I like to have control, some semblance of dignity, and strongly dislike vomiting.

She smiled forgivingly as she approached me, alone at a dinner table.  She didn’t sit, leaned down and spoke loudly into my ear over the noise of the live band: “I think you’re gorgeous, and you should flirt more,” then she moved away again.

It was a pleasant thing to hear, of course, but I disagreed with both of her points.  I’m perfectly capable of flirting when I want to, I think.  I didn’t want to.  She was a little too much for my taste.  And she was increasingly drunk, which downgraded her first assertion, complimentary as it was.

I returned to reading banal trivia about vastly overpaid young men, finished my whisky and left.


At a family and friends garden party the next day, the bride pulled me to one corner and surreptitiously yet excitedly said: “so, dare I ask?”  She had a knowing twinkle in her eye.  I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Ask what?”

“Did you speak to my friend..?”

“Ohhh.  Yes.”

“And what did you think?”

“Um.  She was nice.”

“Is there anything I should or shouldn’t say to her when I see her again in a couple of weeks?”

“I wouldn’t want to tell you there’s anything you can or can’t say.”


“Look, um.., she was nice but I don’t think.. not like that..”

“She had had a lot to drink.”

“Yes, I noticed that.  But no, it’s fine.  She was nice, but y know..  Dyou want some more cake?”


2 Responses to want to dance

  1. does it make me an awful person that I find this post and the awkward situation you found yourself in very entertaining? 🙂

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