Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That Kind of Girl

I have never been much of a dancer. As a child, I attended the  Ebsen School of Dance in Orlando. Buddy Ebsen, perhaps best known as Jed Clampett, the head of the clan in The Beverly Hillbillies, and as the title character in Barnaby Jones, was a dancer from his earliest performing days and learned to dance in his father’s dance studio in Orlando. If any studio knew how to teach children to dance, this was the place.

At the beginning of my second year in beginning tap dancing, the teachers spoke with my mother, explaining that I was likely to do well in art classes.

Unlike Buddy, my feet seems curiously disconnected from my brain. For one thing, they didn’t do the same things every time. The girls teaching the tap dancing class were serious about their work and they knew how to weed out those without talent.

I was relieved. After all, the best thing about my classes was the wardrobe. I didn’t have to dance to wear the clothes. My mother was a little disappointed that her little cupcake was not excellent in everything she did. But I was the first to tell her that putting my straight hair into curls was not going to make me Shirley Temple.

How could I not be fabulous at dancing? Mom and Dad loved to dance. Daddy worked at teaching me to waltz by having me stand on his feet. I missed the point entirely just enjoying the attention, never being able to have my feet count to three reliably in rhythm.

“You have high arches, like a dancer, like me,” Mom told me. High arches do not a dancer make. Something much more magical must happen between brain and feet besides bone structure, something that eluded me entirely. Somewhere between my brain and my feet, there’s some blocked chakra or something.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord
 Only mildly disappointed by my “disability,” I began to be curious about the nature of intelligence. After all, some people are utter naturals at dancing, music, mathematics, languages, amazingly good at these things. I had so many things come easily to me that I was almost relieved to be a lousy dancer. Being good in school can make the other kids resentful and angry. I embraced my Inner Klutz. I was good at some things; they were good at some things. We weren’t so different. Hooray! We weren’t so different!

The 2 of Cups in Tarot is the urge to find a common heart, a soul-mate, intimacy and a connection with another person. It’s personal, close, one-on-one. Mathematics lovers can find a common bond over a beautiful equation, as dry as that sounds, because of the capacity of the human heart to love and the urge to appreciate and be appreciated. It can also be what I call the “hot monkey love” card for the mutual passion shared between two people. But the passion doesn’t have to be sexual or romantic. It’s the connection that counts.

Right away I have to clarify that it’s the connection to another person that counts. The fact that my brain doesn’t seem to be connected to my feet doesn’t fall into the realm of the 2 of Cups. Thank goodness. Clumsy is covered by something else. Some 7 of Wands reversed thing, I think.

Fast-forward from the not-so-anguished defeat in dancing school to my Seriously Single days after divorcing my first husband. I was adult. I was employed. I was gloriously svelte, a nanosecond in my life where single digit sizes were my territory. I had just moved to a new city. And I was on the prowl. Think of a kitten getting ready to pounce. Imagine the lack of subtlety, the awkward landings, and the inaccurate aim and place that on a template of dating. But at least I wasn’t looking for anything serious.

I had gone out with a single dad named Bob who had an adorable little girl with blonde hair. When we went out with his daughter in tow, people naturally assumed that the all-blond trio were related. Bob turned out not to be as single as originally advertised and went back to his wife. I was a little relieved not to deal with his should-I-leave-her-or-not drama.

In my new job, my new city, my new apartment, I made new friends, the Lonely Hearts club at my corporate headquarters. The place to go after work was semi-affectionately known as “The Meat Market.” It was a watering hole on the east side of town that served weak drinks, strong hors d’oeuvres and a dance floor with flashing lights and a mirror ball. It was the 80’s.

And I can’t dance a step.

I loved watching the dancers though. I turned down so many chances to dance because of the hell that would ensue once they found out about that feet-brain disconnect. A man in a cravat murmured someone of my sophistication really belonged in New York. I met so many married insurance salesmen, that I completely freaked one guy out when I told him within minutes of talking to him that his father had been a farmer, that he was married and that his daughter was older than his son. I hoped it kept him from at least one one-night-stand or two.

And then, out of the swirling lights and blaring speakers came that rarest of commodities in watering holes in an insurance town: a good-looking, single, straight man. Bill was charming, articulate, and theatrical. He was literate and a clever conversationalist. He begged me to pour my drink on his head and bit his wine glass in half. He would not take no for an answer when it came to dancing and out on the floor, I found myself actually dancing. It was like the Ebsen School of Dance had suddenly gelled into that missing connection with my feet. But it was illusion. Bill was just a good dancer who could lead very, very well.

I wanted to know him better, more than the crazy show at the bar. We went to a football game together with coveted University of Illinois tickets, the kind of day where you’re certain your words have frozen as soon as you speak them. And it was there the cracks began to show.

“Furry little thing, isn’t she?” he nodded at a young girl with an unusual amount of transparent peach fuzz covering her face. Alarms went off. He went on to ask if I wore contacts and explained that he could never go out with someone who wasn’t perfect. More alarms. He had trouble with intimacy, strange things. More alarms.

After a couple of dates, he broke it off. I knew it was a good outcome, but still I was curious. He explained, patiently, rationally, that I was the kind of girl he would bring home to his family.

“Exactly,” I smiled, pleased that he had noticed. I was, after all, that kind of girl.

“That’s not what I’m looking for.”

The pattern of his own dangerous, pathological, controlling behaviors clicked into place. Glad things had not progressed too far, I agreed with him though unhappy at my lack of connection. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Best wishes.

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