Ball room dancing
October 26, 2010
It was chestnut season when I entered the sterile hall of the local missionary house.
Bathed, perfumed and shy behind a pair of second hand lens frames, thicker than my little finger and inherited from a dead uncle, I was about to be initiated into ball room dancing, the standard coming-of-age-strategy, to approach the other sex, on a Danish island, in the sixties.
I was 10 and the romantic type who would break off bouquets to impress hair and girlish giggle. In spring, the stone perimeter of the school yard staged a fragrant wall of lilac, white and blue; a natural backdrop for butterflies and pre adolescent aspirations to emotional bloom.
Now the time had come for dancing.
The room, apart from the sparse decoration, was occupied by girls and boys lined up against the walls; I’m still not sure what produced the awkward situation that followed; if it were my glasses, the fact that I was the last to enter or my prepubescent over weight, fruit of growing up in a bakery? In the end the cause is never as important as the consequence… after the invitation to pair up I was the only one not to have a partner.
This initial disaster led to further grief. Suddenly, and with out a warning, the oval body of a flushed woman seized me and began, to the music of Strauss, to demonstrate, to the room of youth, how you perform the waltz.
I was not really dancing… it is hardly dancing when you dangle from a bosom and are being lifted around in circles without ever touching the ground; it is simply embarrassing; I left my body; in trauma you are the last person who wants to know what is happening to you.
On being set back down on my feet I caught the pity in the eyes of the others; that was my final impression before the door that led into the life I had known before dancing sucked me out of the missionary house and sent me running in search of oblivion.