School dances always used to make me uncomfortable. I have no earthly idea why I attended them, for God knows there was no one I was going to slow dance with, let alone hang out with there. My middle school always used to have a dance pretty much every three months, which I always thought violated the clause in the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution regarding cruel and unusual punishment.

I went to each of these dances. My night usually consisted of being dropped off by my parents, finding people I vaguely knew there, and hovering around them. Hovering was something I was very good at. I would hover on the outskirts, swaying lightly from side to side as I watched what all the other kids were doing. Usually something that would make any God-fearing woman clutch her pearls. I swear I saw a child conceived on the dance floor at my Senior Prom. But I digress. Middle school dances were a bit more tame, but not by much.

The thing that I usually enjoyed about them was the music. I didn’t listen to music when I was younger, and to this day I don’t know why I never did. For some reason I was always embarrassed that I wouldn’t like the right music. But school dances were the time that I could hear what all the kids were listening to, and take notes on what I liked and could maybe Ask Jeeves about later in the privacy of my own home.

I remember one school dance, during my routine hovering, I saw a list where you could request songs for the DJ to play. I immediately descended upon it and proceeded to list the four songs I knew in rapid succession. I don’t mean that I put them down once- I put them down ten times. Now, I didn’t realize at the time that the likelihood of the DJ playing the same four songs ten times in a row was slim to none. What can I say? I just really wanted to listen to Toxic by Britney Spears on repeat. I still think about what that poor DJ must have felt, thinking, “Who in the fresh hell keeps filling up this list with the same four damn songs???”

If I knew the song that was playing, which was rare, I would stop hovering momentarily and proceed to dance as wildly as possible, perhaps incorporating snapping my fingers into my routine. I must have been quite the sight, flailing around the dance floor to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexyback” while snapping my fingers.

There are many things I did as a child that make me cringe. Many moments in time that I think about in the middle of the night, that create an instant sinking feeling. Surely everyone must be picturing this every time they speak to me? It would be impossible to forget. But then I remember that each of these moments is a precious gift. What better to laugh at than yourself? Each moment I do something to embarrass myself is simply an opportunity to later find humor and something to write about.

And each dance, at the end of the night when everything was over, my parents would pick me up and I would be exhausted, but happy. And those were the moments where I thought, maybe middle school dances weren’t so bad. Because even though I didn’t have anybody to dance with, didn’t mean I was alone.

-Theodore Dandy

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