This excerpt from my dad's journals is personal, and has to do with my parents' attempts to encourage me to be a normal, American girl. I still don't know why they would have wanted that; neither one of them was normal, at least not in the sense of average. Don't get me wrong: they were great people.  But my mother was a mathematician and my father an engineer, which put them pretty clearly in the square-peg-in-round-hole category. What did they expect of me?

In this case, the round hole involved dancing.

As far back as I can remember, I have had no interest whatsoever in dancing. I don't know why. I'm not nor have I ever been a Baptist or one of those other denominations that discourages the practice; I simply don't care for it. At various times in my life, other people have attempted to fix this defect in my character, all with negative results. As far as I can recall, this was the first such effort. I was in eighth grade.

Tonight Linda started taking dancing lessons at the YWCA—somewhat reluctantly, I think, but I cannot be sure. Mrs. L. called Lynn to see if Linda was interested since she was signing up [her daughter] E., and Lynn agreed, primarily on the basis that if Linda wants to go to the Spring Dance, she should know how to dance. Linda argues that she does not need to know how to dance to go to the Spring Dance. But whether she is really as reluctant as she would like to let on, I don't know.

Yes, well yes, I was. Reluctant. And if I had ever expressed any interest in the Spring Dance, which I doubt, it was probably something I had accepted as one of the many stupid things school tried to impose on us, and I had not yet learned the lesson of "Do not affirm. Do not comply." Besides, my friends were doing it. (Surely one of the worst reasons ever for doing something stupid, but I digress.)

I don't blame my parents for pushing me to do things I didn't like, any more than I blame them for trying to get me to like beets. I finally won the beet battle when they realized that every bite of beets I swallowed was likely to come back up, quickly. But sometimes a little push can open up new and delightful experiences. And apparently I was notoriously hard to read: Dad's journals are filled with comments like, "Once again, I have no idea whether Linda enjoyed the experience or not."

I survived the dance lessons, I think without permanent trauma. I even tried one more time, in a ballroom dance class at the University of Rochester. That didn't take, either.

For the record, the U of R also offered folk dancing classes. (These, like the ballroom dancing, were informal, not regular college courses.) To this, I had the diametrically opposite response. I LOVED folk dancing. I can't say I was very good at it, but that didn't matter, because it was so much fun! Why? I'm not sure; it was a long time ago. But I know I enjoyed the music, and the lively movement, and I especially enjoyed the fact that everyone danced together, without being matched up, except briefly, with any particular partner.

Have I ever tried to find folk dancing again? I did once investigate a local club, but was put off by the fact that everyone was required to bring a partner to the meetings—so it was obvious that it was not the kind of dancing I was looking for. Besides, the last thing I need is yet another activity in my life. I'm really quite happy being dance-free!

(But I'm still not inclined to become a Baptist.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 1, 2024 at 7:39 pm | Edit
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I never liked dancing either. My mother tried unsuccessfully to teach me the polka before the wedding of one of my Wisconsin cousins. It was a total failure.
But I also liked folk dancing.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Friday, March 01, 2024 at 9:18 pm

That's just one reason why you were the best roommate, Kathy!

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, March 02, 2024 at 7:53 am

The real fun in posting something like this is finding the people who agree with me. "I am not alone" is a powerful realization. (Others expressed similar feelings on my Facebook cross-post.) This is especially comforting in a world of "You're not a REAL [insert identity here] if you don't fit the popularly-accepted stereotypes of [identity].

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, March 04, 2024 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, Linda!

I remember a discussion in a Bible study once in which someone said that the X-chromosome made one like shopping. My friend Karen and I both said "Our X-chromosomes must be defective. Gaunce's response to me was "I like your X-chromosome just fine!"

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 5:42 pm