Falling In Love: an 8-year old does his research

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue is that I feel that I was lied to as a child about what falling in Love would be like.  I knew folks who were in Love, but I didn’t know how they got there.  There were very limited resources to find out.  Asking mom and dad always brought about some weird story about storks, other birds, and bees.  This was nothing I cared about because that was about creating another human, not falling in Love.  The cartoons I watched were not helpful either.  Jeanine might as well have been invisible to the ghost busters, April O’Neil was the wrong species for the Ninja Turtles, Fred and Daphne were always strangely absent during the solving of a mystery, and Wolverine and Gambit just seemed to be annoying the ladies they claimed to Love who obviously didn’t Love them back.  The video games I played didn’t help either, because Mario, Link, and Earthworm Jim were already in Love with their respective princesses before the game started (and their princess only got a few seconds of screen time).

 

I needed texts where people fell in Love, so I gathered the entirety of my family’s meager movie collection to conduct some research.  In our collection of 20 VHS tapes (most of which were recordings of TV broadcast movies) I had picked out 3 movies that dealt with the subject matter:  Aladdin, Star Wars IV & VI, and Top Gun.

 

Here is what all 3 sources had in common about falling in Love:
1.) There will be only 1 girl to consider.  It’s pretty obvious who it is.  That’s the girl you have to go for.
2.) At some point before being in Love, you’ll see the girl without all her clothes on.  Her bellybutton will be visible and she’ll have on little more than a glorified swimsuit.
3.) There will be very obvious musical cues as you fall in Love.
4.) The girl needs to be useful to your job in some capacity (street rat & street rat, prince and princess, rebel pilot and rebel princess, pilot and lady who teaches pilots).
5.)  At some point you’ll have to kiss her to find out if you are in Love with her.  All of the guys seemed to be surprised that they were in Love.

 

Each of the movies had some unique notes about falling in Love.  Aladdin had a few points you had to find between the lines.
A1.) Girls might like you for rescuing them (a lot), but they won’t Love you and marry you until you stop lying.
A2.) It’s okay to see if the cute girl on the street is likable.  No shame in shallow interest.
A3.) Girls always know when you are lying.  Even if you fool them, they know.  And they’ll remember it forever.  Forever.
A4.) No matter what, even if you just need to hand her the lamp at the end of the movie so she can wish you into being a prince so that you can keep your word and wish a genie free, NEVER share your toys with her.

 

Top Gun was more confusing to me as a child (it’s confusing to me 22 years later).
TG1.) Falling in Love seems to be achieved by a lot of yelling and apologizing, until you are so angry with each other that you are in Love.
TG2.) Despite being strangers as far as I could tell, they could still fall in Love.
TG3.) Right before you fall in Love, you have to lick each other in the mouth whether you want to or not.  [This last one was heavily contested by the other kids in the neighborhood.  No one had ever seen actual people in Love do this, so maybe it was just a movie stunt.  It was enough to make me question Top Gun as a resource for what Love should be like, even at the age of 8.  Which leads to the real lesson of Top Gun…]
TG4.) Not everyone falls in Love in a healthy way.  Even Tom Cruise gets it wrong sometimes.

 

Star Wars was the best resource.  My parents had recorded A New Hope and Return of the Jedi on VHS.  Empire Strikes Back had been deemed too scary by my mother, so it was not in the rotation and my Star Wars knowledge was thrown a bit off as a kid.
SW1.) Rescuing a girl does not win her heart.  She’ll be very bossy after a rescue.  The most you can expect is a medal.
SW2.) If another guy is after your girl, he’ll back off if he finds out she is a sibling.
SW3.) Maybe some girls are just hard to get.  Rescuing Leia on the Death Star jail, then from the Death Star laser, then off of Hoth, then from an Imperial manhunt through an asteroid field, then out of an asteroid with a giant worm, then out of Cloud City, and finally from Jabba’s palace where she had dabbled in rescuing also, Han slowly wore down her steely heart.  Some girls just need more rescuing.
SW4.) This is the most important:  Don’t fall in Love just because you rescued someone.  See if they are a good match.  Han Solo did not rush into Love.  He waited and watched to see if Leia was any good, and she was.  She came up with the garbage chute escape plan, shot thousands of storm troopers, gave him a medal, tried to rescue Han, strangled Jabba the Hut with her own hands, did some really cool stuff with a speeder bike, and saved Han’s life after being shot by outdrawing a bunch of storm troopers.  He waited an entire (presumable) three movies before falling in Love with Leia at the end.  Leia might be pretty and all, but she seemed to Love Luke.  Han wasn’t going to put up with a two-timer.
SW5.) Falling in Love is about making someone else happy because they make you very happy.  Han was willing to give Leia up at the end so that she could be happy with Luke.  Leia fell in Love with Han because he made her happy.
SW6.)  Even after falling in Love, Han still had to kiss Leia to be sure that he was in Love.  Turns out he was, and it surprised him very much.

 

 

 

Turns out my research into falling in Love was mostly wrong.

The Next Dimension

There were many bikini-clad college ladies at the lake that day, and they had their choices of many muscled, intelligent, and dangerous college men.  We all knew what was at stake.  We were at a private lake about a half hour away from the nearest town, and we were there for the entire weekend.  It was a summer bash where everyone was expected to make poor decisions and the probability of winding up with a girlfriend/boyfriend was pretty high.  It was a very exclusive party; the organizers only invited the social elite.  Everyone there was beautiful and well connected.  I’m not sure how I was invited; perhaps the Post Office got their Steve’s mixed up.  I was a Freshman in college, socially awkward, and I only knew three of the other guys at the party.  I was out of my element, sure, but I had a few things going for me: I looked good in a swimsuit, I had a good sense of humor, and I was a great story-teller with a fresh audience.  Still, the guys outnumbered the girls about 2 to 1, so I had to play this right.

 

I knew I had stiff competition from Al.  Al was a beautiful man, a lumberjack with bronzed muscles shining like Adonis in the sun.  He was extremely charming, quick to joke, amazing conversationalist, had a contagious laugh, knew everything about popular music and culture, and was dressed like he belonged in a Sexy Fireman Calendar.  But on top of all that, the thing that made Al irresistible is that he was a bad boy.  He rode a motorcycle, smoked cigarettes, had a reputation of sweeping ladies of their feet, and rebelled against authority at every turn.  The man was charisma incarnate.  I once saw Al walk into a liquor store with no money, charm the lady behind the counter to loan him $10, and then walk out of the liquor store with a six-pack and two dollars.    That was normal for Al.  (He did go back the next day to give her $10.  She gave him her number.)

 

The parents were all at the lake before we arrived.  It was normal for them to get the party started and then leave before sunset.  They acted as a social catalyst, getting all of their children talking to each other before they gracefully bowed out and left us to our own devices.  We were young, scantily clad, well aware of the desirability of those around us, guaranteed privacy late into the night, and we had enough beer to float a boat.

This probably sounds like a stupid idea to you, because you are intelligent.  This sounds like lighting a flare over a powder keg.  I didn’t understand why they did it at the time, but a couple of theories have surfaced.  My best theory is that this is how the powerful and wealthy elite of the county kept their circle small.  By throwing all of their children into this Petri Dish and adding significant stimulant, the rich and powerful were guaranteeing that their sons and daughters would wind up with someone else that was the offspring of someone rich and powerful. They kept all of the undesirables out of the genetic pool while exposing their offspring to the best breeding the county had to offer.  We’d all form the tightest of social bonds.  Their daughters would inspire desire, upon which I’d develop friendship that could never be betrayed because my heart would always remember that it desired them at one point.  Their sons I’d learn to respect and admire as we all competed for the affections of the same women.  We’d all be a group, our own society, and no outsider could break in because we were already so close.  We were the up-and-coming elite.  Our parents’ legacy would continue through us, but only if our parents thrust us into the fire to forge these kinds of alliances.

 

That’s just a theory.  Maybe our parents were stupid.

 

I arrived late, because I didn’t know where the location was.  This story happened before smart phones, before GPS, and before any kind of printable internet map.  I was given directions such as “go to the Smith’s old place, take a left, past the tracks, right after the Barn House (you’ll know the one I’m talking about), keep going, and then left on the dirt road before the cow fields.”  It’s a skill that MidWesterners have, giving directions using no street names, and I’m decent at finding my way around, even when I don’t know who the Smith’s are, but I needed a guide this time, and that guide was Al.  Al rode his motorcycle, and as we came onto the property he revved his engine and nodded at the ladies.  He wore gigantic sunglasses (very stylish in the 90’s), so every single one of the girls thought he was nodding at them.  He then popped a wheelie and stood on his bike, balancing it perfectly, and slowly wheeled toward where the girls were stationed.  It was a great move signifying his mastery over the motorcycle, control, care, grace, and he had to flex his arms to maintain the wheelie.  I drove to where the cars were parked and gave myself a pep speech, because I was obviously outmatched.

 

Al’s parents were not the social elite.  His father worked developing construction equipment and his mother was big into New Age trends.  Despite his pedigree, the designers of this experiment understood what Al was: an unstoppable charisma.  Al would become something big in this county with or without the help of the “Old Money”.  They needed to draft him to their side to ensure that Al would stand with their children as opposed to against them.  Al was critical to their children’s success.

 

I wound my way down to the party, which was in full swing.  I maintained a constant flex of my abs while walking; it’s something I used to do when I was younger, shallower, and much better looking.  It may sound desperate, but I knew what I was up against.  I was up against Al.  Al already knew everyone here.  I sort of knew everyone here, I went to elementary school with some of these kids, and I knew their parents from long ago, but I hadn’t kept in touch.  The girls I knew in elementary school were now women.  Beautiful women.  Some of them sort of remembered me (I was a rather boisterous class clown, hard to miss), but I was never really close friends with any of them…

 

… except Gabrielle.  While walking to the beach where everyone was gathering, I got my first good look at the ladies.  One stood out in particular.  Tan, thin, the scoliosis stance that super-swimsuit models tend to favor, designer flip flops, freshly painted pink finger and toenails, impractical sunglasses, radiant smile, calculated hair that looks like she put in three hours of effort to make it look like she put in no effort, tactical make-up, and she was very good looking.  It took me about ten seconds of absent-minded staring to finally pull myself together and wonder, is that Gabrielle?  Gabrielle was a girl who liked soccer, could run decently fast, had a list of funny jokes, and enjoyed the same games I did.  We spent many hours together when our parents had parties, and I considered her a good friend.  She was pretty much everything I was looking for as a 2nd grader.  Now that I was older and much more shallow, she was ‘interesting’.  Love-at-first-sight isn’t something I believe in.  I actually preferred ladies to be witty, snarky, intelligent, able to navigate an interesting conversation, able to tell a story, full of new and brilliant ideas, hopes, dreams, and determination.  That isn’t something you can tell by first-sight.  So maybe what I was looking for wasn’t so shallow, but that doesn’t mean that “keen-interest-at-first-sight” wasn’t a factor for me in my college days.  There was only one problem with Gabrielle standing there on the beach, and that was how she was making googily eyes at Al while casually touching his bicep.

 

The party got underway.  I introduced myself to all of the parents, giving the fathers a firm handshake and nodding respectfully at the mothers.  Word had gotten around that I taught ball-room dance, and so many of them demanded a demonstration.  I was happy to oblige, knowing that treating the mothers to a quick dance was high-elite diplomacy.  The mothers would then introduce me to their daughters, or if I miscalculated whose mother they were, I’d get introduced to their son.  The sons weren’t ever impressed by the dance, but the ladies saw from afar.  They saw that I knew how to dance, that I could make their mothers laugh and smile, and that wherever I went people were happy.

 

It’s important to note that I wasn’t letting on with my internal rivalry with Al.  Al was my friend, after all.  It’s just that I didn’t like feeling inferior to him.  I was here because Al invited me, not because I belonged.  The ladies flocked around Al as their knees became weak and their eyes became soft.  The “Old Money” all complimented Al on his start-up business and were impressed by his decision to skip college and just start being successful by owning a company that employed fifty men.  A deep and dark part of me just wanted to show that I was on the same tier as Al.  For once I wouldn’t be known as “Al’s friend”, but as “Steve, the guy worth knowing on his own”.  So the performance there on the beach was not an act to fool people into thinking I was a fun person.  That was the genuine me.  I just always felt in the back of my head that I was losing some unspoken popularity contest.

 

The party migrated into the lake.  I had formed a conversation with Al, Gabrielle, and two other gals, and three other guys.  We kind of drifted about the pond the way that MidWesterners tend to do on summer days.  The unnamed folks in our group were all interested in each other, but Al was clearly interested in Gabrielle, and she was clearly interested in him.  I just did my best to be friendly and interesting, waiting my time.  I was evaluating Gabrielle, seeing if she was any fun to be around.  She was, and it turns outs that I was to.  I could make Gabrielle laugh, smile, and most importantly, engage with the conversation.  Maybe I had a chance out here, however slim it may be.

 

We drifted to the far side of the lake, and that’s when things changed.  Al nodded to the trees and said “hey, check this out.”  We all started to swim over to the bank.  A steep hill went straight into the lake at this spot.  It was a thirty-foot incline with a flat spot at the top.  Trees were everywhere, but I saw what Al was up to.  A single rope hung down from one of the taller trees.  It was a thick hemp rope, long enough to barely grab from the shore.  It had a small circular wooden platform at the bottom where a person could sit.  This was a rope-swing.

 

The group each took a turn, except for Al.  We would climb the hill, do our best to line up a path that would avoid any trees (not easily done), and then jump.  The swing would go down 30 feet, up thirty feet, and then you had to let go and drop into the water.  Riding the swing back wasn’t a choice, as it would invariably crash a rider into the trees.  I went first, and other folks followed.  Al stayed behind, helping folks onto the swing.  After all, he had built the rope swing.

 

Conversation between the guys shifted to “The Next Dimension”.  Should we show them “The Next Dimension”?  Will the parents get mad if we pull out “The Next Dimension”?  Are we too drunk to pull off “The Next Dimension”?  This unexplained event was generating a lot of hype, until Gabrielle finally asked “What is ‘The Next Dimension’?”

 

That is what Al had been waiting for.  “Here Steve, hold this.”  At the top of this thirty foot hill, there was a tree.  Al monkey-ed his way up the tree quickly and effortlessly, his lumberjack skills displayed for all to see.  He climbed to a rather sturdy branch about fifteen feet off the ground, and walked across it, balancing with his arms outstretched.   He then turned and faced the rope I was holding.

 

No way.

 

I looked down the hill.  Directly below was a very steep drop off, and at the bottom was a collection of sharp pointed sticks and jagged rocks.  If Al missed this, he’d fall about thirty-five feet and then die.  I looked up at Al, holding the edge of the rope.  “Watch this” is all he said, winking at Gabrielle.

 

Al jumped into the air, hands stretched out above his head, thirty-five feet above certain doom.  His body completely horizontal as he crossed the necessary seven feet to even have a chance at grabbing the rope.  His hands grabbed it with ease, his feet planted squarely on the seat.  The rope snapped out of my hand, and I saw Al go.  Careening through the trees faster than I’ve ever seen a swing go, Al was a streak of brilliance.  The swing crested on the other side over the lake just as Al let go.  His feet stayed on the platform as he backflipped off the platform with practiced ease, his arms stretched out to the sides at full length, his legs fully extended with pointed diver’s toes.   At least fifty feet in the air, he rotated backwards once, twice, three times before he slowly raised his arms above his head in a perfect swan dive.

 

The other lake goers didn’t know about this.  They just saw Al comet out of the forest like some kind of aerial champion.  Everyone cheered and yelled.  The swing came all the way back to the top of the hill where I caught it.  That was incredible.

 

I looked over at Gabrielle, to find her already looking at me.  Her breath had been taken away, clearly, it was the hottest thing ever done.  But her eyes were interrogating and playful, her bottom jaw flirtatiously quirked to the side, her smile devious.  “Think you could do that?”  And with her challenge, she took one finger and stroked it alongside my arm.

 

The next thing I knew, I was struggling up a wet tree.  Al had the advantage of two years Lumberjacking and a dry tree.  I had sure determination and ego, and both were wearing out.  I managed it, but it wasn’t graceful.  It was described as “climb-humping” the tree.  I had tree bark stuck on my chest and scratches everywhere.  Gabrielle stood at the top of the cliff of certain death, holding the swing for me, smiling sweetly.  I stood on the sturdy branch, still braced up against the trunk of the tree.

 

This is where I did some thoughtful introspection of the situation.  Gabrielle clearly knew that I liked her.  Despite my clever plan of trying to remain friendly and unflirty, she knew that I was interested.  She pulled one string and I performed masterfully as her puppet.  She wasn’t being cruel though.  She was clearly enjoying that I was going to such lengths to impress her.  She was open to flirtation.  Maybe she was into me.  Maybe she was just caught in that both Al and I were interested in her.  Maybe she was just naturally flirty.  Maybe she was toying with my heart and was ready to crush it at a moment’s notice.  It was hard to tell.  Climbing the tree was probably a bad decision, and I wasn’t thinking straight, but standing on the Branch of Fate (as it was called) did clear my head a bit.

 

I took a breather because climbing the tree was hard.  From the Branch of Fate, the collection of sharp sticks and rocks looks more like a churning meat grinder.  To successfully grab that swing, I’d have to fully commit to jumping over certain doom.  Folks in the water were splashing and clapping now.  Some had started chanting “Next Dimension”.  I had somehow become the center of attention for the entire party.  They weren’t taking any more stalling.  One of the guys said to Gabrielle “Do you think he’s going to chicken out?”

And before he had finished the question, I had leapt.

 

I remember the jump very well.  In order to make it to the rope, I had to clear seven feet horizontally, and had about fifteen feet vertically to do that in.    In the air, there was no time to look at the certain doom beneath me, as all five of my senses were focused on that rope swing.  The air was electrically cool against my wet skin as I flew through it.  My muscles were all tense.  My face had the calm of Buddha, with a slight smirk that sparked when I snuck a quick peek at Gabrielle.  My hands brushed against the rope.

 

That’s when everything went horribly wrong.  Gabrielle let go of the swing early, my hands were touching the rope, but I didn’t have a grip.  I didn’t get my hand placement as high on the rope as I wanted.  Al’s previous attempt at ‘The Next Dimension’ had left the rope wet.  The platform for my feet had already started to move away and I could not wrestle my feet onto it.  Instead I just slid down about four feet of rope, my hands clutching for dear life despite the sudden rendering of flesh on my palms.  I looked panicked at the collection of death spears and rock macerators below me when suddenly my view was blocked.  The foot platform had snapped back like a whip and clobbered me in the face.  I was knocked senseless.  All thoughts of death below, the Branch of Fate, my stupid unspoken competition with Al, even thoughts of Gabrielle had been shattered by the platform collision.  Only one thought remained.  “HOLD!”

 

My hands cinched onto the ropeswing.  The foot platform stopped my slide to certain doom, and I choked the ever-loving salvation out of the rope.  My vision had tunneled to mostly stars and black, but I could still barely see, and the moment I knew that I was over water I let go.

 

I did not gracefully soar high into the clouds like Al did.  I looked more like a cat shot out of a canon.  My legs were both higher than my head in some kind of uncontrolled karate kick.  My arms flailed about, all control lost after using every last bit of strength to keep me from dying.  I rotated on three axes like a rag doll, completely out of control.  Where Al had pulled an Olympic 3-rotation swan dive, I had achieved a hideous monkey roll.  My horizontal momentum was impressive; I remember seeing the lake water flashing past as the rotation slowed.  I saw my reflection, as if I was standing in the air horizontally, my arms casually at my side.  And then I fell into my reflection face and belly first.  An audible crack reverberated through the party as I rebounded off of the water tension, which sent me hurtling through the air again spinning like a top.  CRACK!  That time my back had bounced off the water tension, and again I was sent toppling over in a flurried ball of arms and legs.  Another loud crack sounded, but this time the lake had mercy.  The water tension let me in, ending my experiment as a human skipping stone.

 

Under the water I heard laughter.  Maybe it wasn’t real, just some delusional hallucination brought about by facial bludgeoning, but I still heard it.  I remembered thinking “You know, rather than face Gabrielle, you could just die here.  It might be easier.”  I stayed for a good ten seconds to regain my composure, and then kicked to the surface. 

 

I had decided that I wasn’t beaten.

 

I broke through the surface with my hands raised in triumph.  I had succeeded!  I had survived.  I acted like this is what I meant to do.  Clapping erupted, punctuated with the staccato of cheers and laughter.  I looked up the hill and smiled.  Gabrielle was there, holding her hands over her face in a bit of horrified shock.  Her eyes were large and guilty.  I called out to her “you let go a bit early.”

 

I managed to swim to shore.  My face was covered in blood and so were my hands.  I kept my hands and face out of the water to avoid getting any more lake water into my blood stream.  Profuse bleeding was not a good way to impress any of the ladies.

 

I did not end up getting a girlfriend that trip.  At one point, Gabrielle and Al disappeared off into the woods together and I sort of gave up.  Come to think of it, Al disappeared off into the woods with a lot of the girls, which made a lot of the fellas give up.  I still had a lot of fun.

Club Dancing Is A Strange Phenomena I’ll Never Understand

Today is Friday, the day I talk about the issues.  Today’s issue that I want to talk about is: Clubs are awful.  I’m not talking about clubs like G.R.O.S.S (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS), the George Takei fan club, or even secret clubs like the illuminati.  I’m talking about Dance Clubs.  A dance club is where a person goes in order to attract a potential and temporary mate.  A club is a weird place to go for this, because it is designed to make the process of finding a mate very difficult.  All of the potential mates available are being assaulted on all of their ‘mate-finding’ senses.  The building smells strongly of sweat filtered through a person’s perspiration system and Axe body spray.  The potential mates’ ears are being assailed by the sophomoric remixes of the day’s top 40 remixes that all have the same bass line and hundreds of people screaming at each other in order to be heard.  A potential mate’s sense of touch is useless as they grow numb to the incessant rubbing of the bodies in the crowd around them and a strange humidity that grows stronger throughout the night.  The best way to attract a mate in this environment is to jerk your body in syncopation with the music in an elaborate manner that sets you apart from all other members of your gender.  Despite your best dance efforts, potential mates will need super vision to find you as a club is simultaneously too dark and far too bright, depending on what setting the strobe lights are set to. 

 

Clubs are expensive.  Far too expensive.  Some people think that the primary reason for a club existing is to give people that like clubs a place to be.  That’s insane.  Clubs exist to make the owners a lot of money.  No one likes people that like clubs.  Clubs don’t even like people that like clubs.  The first person you meet at a club is a person with the job of keeping you out of the club.  The person is called a Bouncer.  The bouncer is the most reasonable person you’ll meet at any club.  The bouncer is to hell what St Peter is to the Pearly Gates of heaven.  Bouncers learn their hatred of people that like clubs (PTLC) early.  Their job interview goes something like this.

Club Owner: “Hey, I hear you are looking for a job.”
Bouncer:  “Yes.  I’m trying to pay off student loans with a second job so I can get ahead in life.”
Club Owner:  “Sounds like you are a reasonable person.  Your job is going to be dealing exclusively with people that aren’t reasonable.  These people are in no way like you.  They are younger.  They are drunker.  They are dumber.  They don’t like that you are keeping them out of the club.  They think that they’ll find a potential mate within the confines of my psychedelic prison complex.  And on top of all that, they are PTLCs”
Bouncer:  “That sounds awful!  I hate clubs!  I hate PTLCs.  But I need the job.  Tell you what, mister.  I’ll guard your club as long as I never have to go in it.”
Club Owner:  “Deal.”

 

Outside of a club you’ll find a gigantic line with the Bouncer as the gatekeeper.  You might think that once you get into the club you’ll be fine, but all that you’ve really accomplished is gaining entry to a more complex line.  The line is very broad and disorganized, but it’s basically the same thing as outside.  The difference is now the atmosphere around you is awful.  Before the obstacle you had to fight was a bunch of people in front of you.  Now that you are inside the club you can’t see, you can’t hear, and the obstacle you have to fight off is a bunch of people in front of you that are thrashing about.  Dance floor, bathroom, or the bar, you’ll have to go through a bunch of people jerking weirdly about.  Welcome to the advanced line, sucker.

 

I have been dragged to clubs a handful of times.  Never was it my own idea, and I protested each time.  The only people I’d find at a club are PTLCs, and that sounded awful.  However, my friends were more suave and charismatic than I, and they made many promises, so I went.  They promised it would be fine.  They promised it would be fun.  They made a promise that seemed odd, but I trusted them.  It is this last promise that made me agree to their request.  Their promise went something like this:  everyone can dance, even you.  Perhaps they saw the movie Footloose, where a dance suppressed culture of teenagers can break out into choreographed delight the instant that rock music starts to play.  Maybe they themselves were born with the magical ability to move gracefully through the swamp of a club like a crane standing out beautifully amongst its surroundings and they thought that I too possessed this dormant instinct.  Perchance these individuals believed in musicals, where even the most hardened of villains who never heard a note of music in their entire lives were capable of tap dancing to an incredible pace of 32nd notes while accomplishing aerial feats of gymnastic valor.  Whatever caused this notion in their heads, I don’t know, but they were wrong.  Woefully wrong.  I can’t dance.  I can’t even bop.  A normal person has 3 axises of movement: yaw, pitch, and roll (rotating shoulders around, bowing forward and back, leaning side to side respectively).  A middle-aged white person in a crowd will usually pitch forward and back (a weird bowing motion) while bending their legs slightly to move their body up and down.  Sometimes there is a bit of a sidestep involved.  It is a travesty that no one should have to watch, but middle aged white people in large crowds have some kind of magical herd immunity to this.  I am incapable of even doing this.

 

After passing the Bouncer and the sign that reads “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”, my captors found a group of females that they wished to display their mating rituals to.  I was not excited about this, but I went along because the alternative was to strike out on my own to display my own mating ritual alone in a hostile universe filled with plenty of competition that knew what they were doing.  I had no chance on my own, and wandering about simply observing this spectacular mess of humanity did not seem humorous to me.  So I ventured with the other pack of young males to woo the ladies.

 

It was quickly apparent that I was outmatched by my peers.  I was not in a mating mood, so I simply needed to stay in the background and pretend to be enjoying myself.  The other males in my group had convinced a group of females they were familiar with to circle around to lay claim to some dance floor territory.  The females of this circle placed their purses in the center of our circle to observe how well the males of my group could simultaneously protect their valuables while slinging about in a mating ritual.

 

The ratio was in our favor.  There were seven females and only three males.  Two and a third girls for each of us, but that is not how nature works in the swamp.  All of the females desired to mate with the alpha of our group.  I do not wish to embarrass him, so I will keep his identity secret and refer to him only as “Cameron Jones”.  Cameron was very accomplished when it came to performing the mating ritual of the club swamp.  He performed it effortlessly while at the same time demonstrating charisma beyond that of his competitors.  I was not accomplished at performing the mating ritual.  A person watching me might assume that I’m not moving.  Perhaps I was shrugging just enough to readjust the way my shirt fit on my shoulders.  My arms stayed locked in a 90 degree angle at the elbows, as if I was pushing an imaginary shopping cart that I was going to place all of my potential mates into.  Whatever it was that I was doing, it was stupid.  I knew it was stupid.  I felt stupid.  I wanted the whole stupid adventure of the club swamp to be over with, but that’s not how the others in my group saw it.

 

“Dance!” they said.  ‘They’’ being the females.  Perhaps they meant it as encouragement, but I only heard mocking.  I kept doing what I was doing, knowing that the night’s jubilee would be over one second at a time.  “Dance!” they insisted.  The females had turned their attention over to me for whatever reason.  Despite Cameron Jones still performing the mating ritual with eminent refinement, the girls now wanted comedy.  To see how superior a mate Cameron Jones was, they needed a baseline to compare him to.  I now saw why Cameron Jones had brought me to the club.  It was to set the bar low.  Very low.  Cameron Jones brought me to the club so that I would set the bar on the floor, where Cameron could clear it as long as he didn’t shuffle his feet.  I felt betrayal and embarrassment, neither of which helped me perform any kind of movement that might be mistaken as a dance.

 

Despite all this, I tried harder.  I tried moving along more than one axis.  I tried to bop up and down, forward and back, side to side.  I mixed up the movements.  I shrugged my shoulders slightly in time with the beat.  I kept my arms close, but moved them in some kind of subtle kungfu mimicry.  I tried, but the more I tried, the worse it got.  The females looked at me like I was sick.  Perhaps I was dying.  It felt like I was dying.  I wanted to die.  Cameron Jones made me want to die.

 

The night did eventually end.  All seven of the females wanted to mate with Cameron, but Cameron tossed their hearts aside.  Being a gentleman, he did not want to mate with just anyone.  Or perhaps Cameron thought himself too good for the females of the club swamp.  Maybe Cameron wanted to assert his dominance over our friendship by showing me that he could have all of the ladies while I could only convince them that I was dying of muscle failure.  Maybe Cameron Jones wanted to establish the social hierarchy where he was better than PTLCs while I was inferior to every last one of the PTLCs.  Or maybe…just maybe…Cameron wanted to show me the truth, the hardest truth I’d ever come to know.  Cameron Jones wanted to open my eyes to show me that clubs are awful, and so are the PTLCs.  I’ll never know.  Unfortunately Cameron suffers from a contagious disease that alters his memory to the point that he thinks I had a great time.  I say it is contagious because he convinced me to change my memory of the club every time he dragged me off to another one.