Blog post What was a mistake you made that turned out to be a blessing? How did it change your life for the better?
Mistakes, I’ve made many, probably invented a few. For this assignment, I’m catapulted into one of most embarrassing moments of childhood.
The girls are dressed in frilly and fluffy apparel, white socks and patent leather shoes, polished to shiny perfection. Awkward for a Saturday especially for me. We’re supposed to be riding bikes, running around the block and roller skating. Something normal. Not dancing school with Mr. Riddle’s orchestra at the Alcazar Hotel on Cedar Hill.
We arrive at the hotel in groups from car pool. I love the fancy carpets and watching people coming and going, but there is a creep factor among the older generation. My neck feels scratchy from the dress I’m wearing. A few girls I don’t know well bump each other along as we’re herded into the elevator. I’m nervous. The doorman closes the steely door and up we go. Suddenly the lights go out. The giggling starts, somebody elbows me hard. I start to panic, my breathing chokes. Girls scream until someone shouts “be quiet!” For a long moment I am beset with anxiety. Then the lights are back on and the doorman makes a nonchalant comment that someone will be in trouble.
We’re ushered into the drafty dance hall with its shiny wooden floor. Metallic chairs are placed against the wall, along the sides of the great room. The cold shocks my bare legs. Girls sit on the right, boys to the left. The boys look ridiculous dressed in suits, their hair gooey with gel; they squirm uncomfortably and throw dagger looks our way. Our parents have designs on all of us to impress the need for etiquette, to know about proper ballroom dancing, and to prepare for future cotillions, whatever that is. My sister is nearby somewhere, but she avoids me as I’m a nuisance to the older ones.
We are learning the waltz. I love dancing but I hate these classes. There are no windows in the room. I dream of riding horses instead of rigid forced interaction with the boys, and in the company of mean girls.
Mr. Riddle announces it is girl’s choice. I go into high gear. I am not going to get stuck dancing with some yo-yo I don’t know. Panic takes over. In a hot second I see Teddy Schmidts, the kid who blushes constantly, his Nordic face flushing red in seconds. Kids tease him mercilessly in school. He has blonde eyelashes. But I know him and don’t want to be caught dead dancing with somebody unfamiliar.
So before the other girls are out of their chairs, I hurl across the shiny floor. I slip with both feet, heels suddenly off the ground, my shiny shoes up in the air as I land on the floor with a thump.. Alone. In front of everyone. Laughter. Ears stinging.
As soon as I fall, I’m up pretending it didn’t happen. I continue the beeline towards Teddy standing in front of him, looking at his firey blushing. I’m burning up from the horror, still mad about the elevator, and wishing I could die right there. Surviving the stupid dance, I vow never to return to dancing school. I long for the smell of hay and horses, my soft worn out jeans, and climbing trees.
My sister and I soon rebel against the prickly dresses, shiny shoes, the gloves and dancing school altogether. We argue and fuss until my mother gives up on our brief stint in charm school.
Moral of the story: Dust yourself off and carry on. Be cool in social situations. Always carry a flashlight in your purse especially if you get claustrophobic in elevators. Mean girls are everywhere.