Friday, October 5, 2018

"The Dance Instructor"

So when I lived in some apartments near midtown, I had a neighbor who was a Chicago Step dance instructor. He was not very attractive and looked more on the unkept side of things. His clothes were usually wrinkled and unstylish and his facial grooming was average at best. However, he appeared to be a nice guy.

We had been neighbors for a couple of years, always speaking when we passed each other in the corridors, when one day in passing, he asked if my daughter and I wanted to attend one of his Chicago Steppers classes for free. It sounded fun. Both my daughter and I love to dance and are naturally good at it, but we had never had any formal instruction aside from music videos. This was a great opportunity for us to learn something new as well as bond. I gratefully agreed to attend the class. My daughter and I were excited.

Saturday came, and as we were preparing to leave, there was a knock at my door. It was The Dance Instructor. I explained that we would meet him on time for the 10am class. What he said next caught me completely off guard. He told me in a very nice and direct way that he planned on riding with us. What??? I didn't say he could ride with us. As a matter of fact, that was the first I had ever heard of that since the invitation in the earlier part of the week. Honestly, I had never given him a ride anywhere since we had been neighbors. Where did he get the notion that that would be cool? But it gets worse. He expected a ride there and a ride back...What??? I had to draw the line. I told him  that I had something to do afterwards, so I wouldn't be able to bring him back. But I would take him this time, and this time only.

I felt played. I knew he didn't have a car, but he never asked me for a ride before. He used to just ride his bike. Why didn't he ride his bike that Saturday? Whatever...But I bet it didn't happen again.

So my daughter, The Dance Instructor and I headed to the Buckhead dance my car. It was a nice studio. Miami Circle is a nice area so that wasn't much of a surprise. When we got in, there were brief introductions to a few people and then we proceeded to a small practice room. Guess what? There was no class. My daughter and I were the only participants. We awkwardly glanced at each other while The Dance Instructor eagerly changed into his dancing shoes and instructed us to do the same. He then B-lined to the CD player to start the music as quickly as possible to kill the awkward silence. While it remained unavoidably awkward, my daughter and I had mutually decided to make the best of the private dance lesson.

First, he demonstrated the Chicago Stepping for us. Surprisingly, he was a smooth and skillful dancer. That was a relief. He was also a patient and knowledgeable instructor. My daughter and I learned quickly and enjoyed the bonding of the event. We had even quietly agreed that we would return together on a more regular basis...without being The Dance Instructor's taxi of course.

For the first 45 minutes to an hour, we learned the individual steps that allowed us to dance without a partner. We started to duplicate the movements with ease. Everything was going great!...Then things took a turn south.

The time had come to learn to dance with a partner. It was a no-brainer that since The Dance Instructor was the only instructor and man in the class, he had to alternate as our partner. My daughter was up first. She caught on quickly while he maintained a comfortable distance and avoided invading her personal space. He was close enough to perform the moves in a synchronized motion but very respectful of her youth. She really got into the swing of things. I was very proud and excited for her.

Then it was my turn. I expected the same professionalism. Not too much to ask, right?...Wrong!...I was not so lucky. I was blindsided, once again, by...The Dance Instructor. I wanted to scream! Internally I did.

The space that was allotted for my daughter was totally nonexistent for me. As a matter of fact, the way he grossly thrusted his pelvis against mine assured that the gap between us was completely sealed at all times. As our zippers continually kissed, I counted down the final hour minute by minute. Needless to say, the plan to attend regularly was scratched. My daughter and I were pleased that we had learned something new, but it was more than I had ever bargained for, even with it being free...Just the mere thought of his bony pelvis thrusted into my private region time after time, countered what could have been a really pleasant outing. His overzealousness  made the overall experience for me negative.

My daughter laughed for days. We both did. And then something happened to cement the experience in our heads forever. There was a knock at the door one morning. It was...guess who? The Dance Instructor. The silence was so great that you could hear a pin drop. It had been close to a week since the class fiasco so I was totally caught off guard. Apparently, I was the only one who thought the dance outing was an epic fail.

He came bearing a gift. It was a cheap bottle of Chardonnay,  nicely delivered in the plastic BP gas station bag...No lie!...I nicely accepted the gift and to my surprise there was more. He had built up the nerve to ask me on a date. Really??? I was thinking how are we going to get there? On the bike???

I nicely explained that I wasn't interested in dating. He took the news as gracefully as he danced, and we naturally returned to our normal speaking in passing relationship. I eventually moved from those apartments but still passed them occasionally in my driving route. Several times I saw The Dance Instructor out and about on his bike. Then one day I saw something different. He was cranking up a car. The car was void of appeal as was The Dance Instructor, but for the Chicago Step instructor it was clearly a step up. It couldn't have happened to a nicer, weirder guy. He was on his way. One step at a time.

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