Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dorky Dancer

Whitney Way Thore is my hero.

Don't even start with the jokes. Yeah, yeah. "Whitney Weigh More". Your sense of humor is as immature as it is predictable.

After watching this video of Whitney Way Thore dancing, I feel inspired to move my ass.

I used to love to dance when I was younger. I'd head to the bars with my friends. I'd have a couple of drinks. I'd loosen up and start to feel the music buzz through me. I'd enter the crowded dance floor and start moving my body. It felt great. I felt free. I felt alive.

Then, my girlfriend-at-the-time--Kristin--blew it by breaking it to me: I'm a dorky dancer.

Kristin was a lot of things. A liar. A spend-thrift. A chronic consumer. I went bankrupt while dating Kristin. She literally left me in financial ruin and then left town after we broke up and I started dating Will. It took years for me to pay my debts, to restore my credit, to trust another person enough to share a bank account with him.

One good thing about her: I never appreciated dogs or country music until I met Kristin. We adopted a puppy from the shelter and named him Goodboy Earl after The Dixie Chicks song, "Goodbye Earl." I had been a Cat Person before I met Kristin. That I made such drastic personality changes under the influence of Kristin should have been a red flag that our relationship would end up like a country song or a corny joke.

My girlfriend convinced me to adopt a dog.
She spent all my money, then left town.
Thank God she left the dog with me.

It's not the love of dogs and country music that ruined me. For that, I thank my ex-girlfriend. What I regret the most about my relationship with Kristin is that I allowed her to blow my confidence in dancing.

When I was a little kid I'd dance around the dining room table, listening to my mom's eight-track tapes. Mom liked to listen to music while she cleaned the house. She'd pop in some Barbra Streisand, some Queen, some Broadway musical, and start dusting. I'd start dancing. I loved dancing when I was a little kid. Mom always smiled and otherwise encouraged me to dance.

I took one dance class when I was in about third grade. I wasn't very good, but I had fun. I got to wear a snazzy costume and dance in a recital on stage in some old building downtown. Living in suburban Kansas City, it was a big deal to get to go downtown. That I got to go downtown to dance made me feel like a star.

Puberty hormones left me awkward and shy. By Junior High I no longer liked to dance on stage. But I still loved to dance with my friends. In high school my misfit friends and I would play New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banchees inside our bedrooms. We'd drink Boones Farm Strawberry Hill wine and dance. Or, if we had five bucks for gas and the cover charge, we'd drive downtown to dance at The Monolith, an underage dance club that catered to Kansas City's gay and alternative kids.

I didn't dance because I thought I was cool. I never thought I was cool. And I was fine with that. I'd carved a little niche for myself by my late teens, I was a hippie at heart who hung out with any underdogs I could find, punk kids, gay kids, drama kids, art kids, abused kids, alcoholic kids: come dance with me!

That was a long time ago. I'm 43 now. I long ago stopped dancing, in public. I'll never give up dancing in the privacy of my own home. I can't help it. When I hear good music my booty needs to shake. I swing my hips as I stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and listening to the Bjork station on the Pandora app on my tablet. I hold hands with my eight-year-old daughter and dance and sing along to "Frozen" in the living room. I wiggle my way around my husband when I put on some Marvin Gaye.

But that's it. No dancing in public. Ever since Kristin laughed at me and told me I looked "dorky" when I dance.

Kristin was a good dancer. Smooth and cool and confident. It was one of her rare gifts. It came to her naturally, like suckering people into relationships long enough to swindle them. She was graceful and sexy, a wonderment. Nothing at all like she was when she wasn't dancing.

I figured someone that good knows what she's talking about. If Kristin thinks I'm a dorky dancer, I must be a dorky dancer. What do I know? Just like how I let her convince me to sell my "hippie" rattan furniture in a garage sale so we could replace it with stuff that mirrored what she'd seen on HGTV, because I thought what do I know about interior design?

Dang, I miss my rattan dinette set.

What I didn't realize at the time, what I didn't realize until now, after watching the video of Whitney Way Thore shake it like she doesn't care who's watching, is that it doesn't matter if Kristin thinks I'm a dorky dancer. I should dance because I like to. Not to impress other people. I'm the boss of my own body and I should shake it if it feels good.

Instead of responding to Kristin's cruelty by giving up something I love to do--dancing in a crowd of my fellow human beings, feeling connected to humanity through the beat, letting loose and living like there's no tomorrow--I should have said, "So what?" and gone right on dancing like the beautiful dork I am.

Own your dorkiness, Becky! Own it, girl!