Sunday, May 16, 2010

Invitation To The Dance

I can't imagine anything more tedious than a perfect person.

Hugh Mackay
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Once upon a time there was a girl named Seal. She was not ugly, nor was she pretty. She was overweight and not popular. But she had a good attitude about things most of the time and was rarely without a smile on her face. Her family was poor and her parents were totally uneducated. She didn't have much of a future.

Seal was a classmate of mine in elementary school. We hardly ever spoke to each other that I can recall. One day when I was about 9 or 10 I happened to see her by herself against a chain link fence. She called to me to help her. She had caught her foot underneath the fence and the sharp links at the bottom were wedged into her foot. She couldn't reach down to free herself. So I went over and got her free.

When we were in the Sixth Grade the last thing that happened on Friday afternoon was a dance class. The teacher would play some music on a record player and we students would choose partners and dance with each other for an hour. Then we would leave for the weekend.

When the time came, the boys would line up on one side of the gym room and the girls on the other. Whichever boy got the highest grades for the week got to choose who to dance with, then the one with the next highest grades and so forth. (Feminism had never been heard of in this school.) There were 2 more girls than there were boys, so 2 of the least popular girls would end up dancing with each other.

There were two very pretty and very popular girls in the class, one blond and one brunette, Sandy and Carla. They both had boys after them all the time and were always the first to be chosen in the line up. Whenever I was the smart kid of the week I generally chose one of them. But the 4 or 5 boys who wanted to be their dancing partners were always jealous.

The day came when it was the end of the school year. The next day would start the summer vocation and the boys were eager to stake out some territory with Sandy or Carla, to make some arrangements for the summer. This was 6th Grade, so there wasn't anything particularly salacious about the arrangements, just some childish romance of some kind.

Seal would get in line with the other girls, standing at the end looking at the floor because she knew she wasn't going to be picked.

It so happened that I came out first in the "smart kid" category that week, so I got to choose first. I could feel the tension in the room and see the looks of concern on several faces. Being a budding entertainer even back then, I played the scene as much as I could. I pointed my finger back and forth across the row of girls a couple of times and finallysaid "I......choose(long pause).....Sea!." She looked up in surprise. "Well Seal? You want to dance with me?" "Yeah" she said with a big smile and stepped forward.

We knew there was no romance happening. And we were both awful dancers, but it didn't matter. For the next hour we laughed and had a good time.

I never saw Seal again except one day years later when she and her Mom were walking down the street together. We stopped and talked. Seal had made it through high school somewhere and had a job. She was still smiling.

Thank you Seal.

DB
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8 comments:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I am sure that Seal appreciated your gesture for a long time.

Joann said...

I'll bet that she will NEVER forget you, I'm sure it was a highlight for her!! You're a real sweetheart!!

Valerie said...

What a happy and wonderful story! I am sure Seal remembers this day and you so fondly. I am working on the cryptogram. I hope I can sned you something today. Hugs to you! xox

Joann said...

Sorry, Val, I sent mine in at midnight!! LOL!! Just hoping it's all right!

Liz said...

I can't imagine anything more destructive than a bad teacher.

Your story horrifies me.
There are few children that would not leave that dance floor without being scarred by either pride or shame. Both leave a detrimental mark on the mind of a young impressionable child.

Rose said...

What a delightful story. You were a gentleman way back then too! So sweet.

However, I don't believe teachers should make children feel inadequate like poor Seal. But you made her feel special.

Hugs Darling!

Arlene (AJ) said...

What a touching read DB, know Seal will always remember and hold a special place in her heart for you for how you made her feel when you picked her to dance. Sure says a lot about the wonderful man you are dear and I know anyone reading your site, feels the same way I did.

DB said...

Thank you Joann and thank you Arlene. Most of my life I have not been a "real sweetheart" or a "wonderful man." But every now and then, like a stopped clock, I did something right.