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Saturday, December 15, 2007

“The best way out is always through.”

The year is 1966. I mention this because nothing stays the same.

Every Tuesday night we attended CCD classes at St. Joe’s parochial school. The attendees had one thing in common: they were forced by their parents to attend these evening catechism classes since there wasn’t a Catholic high school in my hometown. The only kids who seemed to enjoy the ritual were those who had their own driver’s license.
The saving grace for us powerless souls, however, was the co-ed dance held every few months. Much like the overwhelming number of students showing up for a final exam, everyone came to these sock hops. Some came to hear the local bands play as well as for the free food. I came to see a boy I’d had a crush on since junior high, when Eric’s family moved into an old rental house near the University. Our year together in ninth grade had given me a storehouse of personal information about him, which I dutifully chronicled in my diary. For instance, he played basketball, was friendly ('You’re taking geometry? Are you smart or something?' he’d once said to me in lunch line) and had an older brother who looked like a character on the t.v. series Combat. Stalking is not a new invention.

Mostly I knew that Eric liked Molly a lot. But ‘why’ was and remains one of the world’s oldest conundrums, at least to me. Although she was not unattractive, her clothes were not homemade, she had long hair and popularity, a lot of us wished Eric could see past her to us.

The dances were a study in the teen caste system, the religious mores we’d just been learning about and a whole lot of chaperoned free-floating hormones.. Many kids danced while the small pockets of the unworthy stood in groups, laughing too loudly. Immediately apparent was that even the nerdy boys got to dance because they had the power to ask a girl to dance with them. At most of these events Eric danced with a lot of people, except me, and when Molly finally arrived, he would spend the rest of the time with her. At one dance in particular I got tired of watching and decided to take matters into my own hands. In the late ‘60’s in a Catholic church basement it was acceptable for girls to cut in and dance with whoever they wanted, which is exactly what I did. I’ll never know if it was convoluted karma or 15 year old bravado but two things I’ll never forget. One was the look on Molly’s face when she turned to see who tapped her on the shoulder. The other is how good I felt walking away from the one and only time I ever danced with Eric when Molly cut in on me. Very few times since have I mustered such courage to do the unthinkable. Molly became a Montessori teacher in Washington State and Eric teaches math somewhere in Idaho. As for me, I still get the urge to step over the line every once in awhile.

This is what I remember about dance, this week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings. See other dancers here. The band pictured above is the once-popular Chancellors from Boise in the 1960's. Title quote is from Robert Frost

7 comments:

Lucy said...

Wow! good for you! that took guts, wish we could see a picture of the look on Mollys face! Most 15 yr. old girls wouldn't have had your moxy! nice tale. :)

paisley said...

always have been a "forward" girl.. i know the deep trepidation one feels when they know they have to do something,, and still need to be talked into it... good for you...

tumblewords said...

Great on you! Love this story!

Julie Marie said...

Doesn't it feel good to have THE POWER just once?

Julie

Inland Empire Girl said...

Thanks for taking me back... at our church I remember a Christmas youth group dance... I wore shimmery white lipstick for the first time. I love your new banner atop your blog.

The Alchemist said...

This was such a great prompt it took many of us back in time. Thanks for the story.

Granny Smith said...

Unfortunately I never did get up that much nerve! I was in college before boys began asking me to dance. Such wasted effort it was to put on one's most becoming dress, curls and careful make-up - and then spend the evening with the other wallflowers. I'm glad you had the courage to do something about it!