Dance lesson last night. Not our usual night because of a switcheroo with another student who couldn’t make his usual time.

Don’t know exactly what was wrong with me but I suspect that it had to do with the two left feet I was using. Make that three left feet. Two left feet wouldn’t have been enough to screw up as spectacularly as I was managing to do. The simplest stuff was somehow beyond me. Turns and spins and twirlies that had been indelibly tattooed on my brain had apparently become unreadable, as tattoos will do. I would lead B into steps that we both had down cold long ago, but last night I only ended up spinning her away while I stumbled off into an orbit of my own, usually on the wrong foot. If there was an upside to any of this, it was that I was tripping over my own feet most all the time instead of B’s.

The craziness began at the group class, which is a dance lesson for everybody who walks through the door, and last night was all about swing dancing. Mr. Park showed us a flashy maneuver that started out with a step called the sweetheart, then launched into a crazy whirligig that took us the rest of the night to learn. The first couple times we tried it were not so much misfires as they were complete duds. I’d wrap B up in a sweetheart, then try, and try again, and try again and again to unwrap her with the overhead twirly the instructor showed us, but time after time I ended up twisting B’s arm, which is not the kind of thing you want to do to your dance partner at all, or coming completely unglued from her and flying away (literally!), or sometimes just dancing the basic step without any twirly-whirly at all, and no idea how I managed to do that.

It only took forty-five minutes to figure out how to do it with all the twists and turns well enough that (a) there was no danger of breaking any bones, (b) the instructor wasn’t rolling his eyes at me, and (c) we were having fun. Then it was time for our private lesson.

About three months ago we took our first shot at a Viennese waltz and fell all over each other. It’s crazy fast and there’s a lot of spinning going on. Even when we were dancing to a fairly slow song, we could manage to remain upright for just three or four steps before our legs got all tangled up and we toppled over. And even after we managed to move all the way down the dance floor using the first very basic step Mr. Park taught us, he had to follow along behind us and literally give us a shove in the right direction to teach us how to make a turn. I wish I had a recording of that night.

Now, three months along, we can not only dance all the way around the room at a respectable speed, we can even throw in some fancy moves. My Darling B can do a cute little twirl and kick that looks ever so pretty, and I can lead her through turns and dips without dropping her on her head. We’re still building up the stamina to dance that fast for more than a couple minutes, but if you just happened to glance our way when the music started and didn’t know any better you might think we had some idea we knew what we were doing.

Except for last night, when I suffered a major brain cramp and went all the way back to tangling up my legs in B’s and stumbling all over the place. It got so bad I was beginning to doubt if I could remembered my name. We finally gave up when we got to the corner of the room and my one working brain cell couldn’t come up with the right step to get us out of it. B gamely followed me through it two or three times and every time we tried I ended up just kind of walking away. I wasn’t in step with the music – I wasn’t even sure which foot I was on!

So we tried a little rumba instead and, after a slow start, we had quite a lot of fun with that. My brain was still cramped up a little bit but I walked it off and after five or ten minutes we were both having a good time again. Not that I wasn’t screwing up; I was making tons of mistakes, but by that time we were having fun with it instead of trying to get every step exactly right. Probably we’d just gone numb by then.

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