April 26, 2007

May I have this dance?

I couldn't believe I was finally old enough to attend my first church dance! I had waited months for this! I'd turned twelve in May, and the first dance after that happened to be a stake Halloween dance. I decided I'd go as a gypsy that year. My mom helped me to apply dark skin makeup, eyeshadow, and fake eyelashes. She loaned me long necklaces and bracelets and a colorful skirt that was perfect for my costume. I put on a scoop-necked white peasant blouse, and a black wig...

But when I stood in the mirror, something wasn't quite right. It wasn't that I was too blonde or fair to be a gypsy; we'd already fixed that with the dark makeup and wig. We stood there looking at me, when suddenly Mom snapped her fingers and left the room fast.

Soon she returned with one of her bras in hand. "Mo-oooom! No. Way. NO. I am NOT wearing that thing! It's HUGE!"

"Just shut up and put it on."

I did as she asked, and it took us considerable time to stuff that thing. When I turned and faced myself in the mirror, however, I could see that she'd been right! I looked just like a gypsy should look. I was so happy. It was like a dream...what twelve year old girl doesn't imagine what she'd look like with boobs? Any girl who reads Judy Blume knows that once you get boobs, you have ARRIVED.

We made it to the church, and I entered the doors to a gym transformed. There were dark lights and scary decorations, with a disco ball hanging in the middle of the ceiling, throwing dots of light around the room in a dizzying swirl of motion. The music was already playing. I found my friend and had to tell her it was me because she didn't even recognize me. This was her first dance too. We made our way to the table of cookies and punch, and filled our nervous hands. We found some chairs across the room and sat down with our punch, and talked about how neither of us knew how to dance, and how we hoped to God nobody asked us!

I was sitting there, sipping my punch, when suddenly I noticed a handsome guy across the room, looking right at me. I looked away really fast, and after a second or two, I nonchalantly let my gaze roam back to where he was...

Holy crap!! He was headed my way! He was halfway across the room walking in a straight line toward me, and I was so panicked I didn't even think to stand up and run. My eyes were locked on his in what I'm certain now was a look of abject terror. He stood in front of me and smiled with all the charm and confidence of a college student (which he was) who knows he's got it.

"May I have this dance?"

The blood roared in my ears so loud that I couldn't even hear the music. If I hadn't had so much makeup on, I'm sure I would have been beet red, if not purple. I said the only thing a girl who has no idea how to dance could say.


His smile got even broader and a dimple showed on his cheek. God, he was good-looking. He took a step toward me a little and said, "Seriously? Are you sure? Come on, it'll be fun! Dance with me, please." I shook my head no really fast. My mouth was so dry I couldn't swallow anymore.

"Aw, come on! Don't leave a guy hanging! Dance with me. Come on. You'll like it! I promise I don't bite."

But there was no way I was risking making a fool of myself and revealing to this handsome paragon of manliness that I couldn't dance.

"Come on, dance with me, please!" His arms were held out to the side like I was crucifying him by saying no. I was sure he had no clue I was only 12. I was 5'8" and I looked gorgeous with all that makeup and all those curves. But I was too young and inexperienced. I was too scared. I had to say no.

"Are you sure? I'd really love to dance with you." I assured him I was sure, and he smiled once more, kind of a grin from one side of his face, and told me he was bummed I hadn't said yes. Then he walked away.

I watched him the rest of the night, wishing I had been brave enough to try it, just once, with him ~ wishing he'd come back and ask me again, so I could say yes and change the outcome of the memory of my first dance.


Gluby said...

Ah, he needed a good shot of humility anyway.

Moral of the story: Stuff your bra and wear lots of eyeshadow and the world is yours.

Gluby said...


I did it once in Parma, Idaho, on Halloween, and traipsed around the town with my big, husky uncle who had done the same. Of course, I had a beard and my gloriously-hairy legs.

I didn't get the same kind of attention for some reason.

But I did get the joy of walking up to a Parmite woman in a grocery store and asking her why everyone is looking at me strangely. She didn't know.

Thayne Forbes said...

5'8" at 12 years old? Wow. You ARE a big girl, aren't you? It's no wonder you are still struggling with the sexy boots.

Gluby, we were nearly neighbors. West end of Caldwell, here.

Is ANYONE here from a real city?

supernova said...

Awww!!! If only you'd said "yes"!

CV Rick said...

Church dances! Wow. And until now I'd vanquished those from my memory. I once went as Tarzan, but got turned away at the door for being underdressed. Then I went home put on a shirt and eyepatch and came back as a pirate.

It didn't mollify my dad who accused me of doing it to embarrass him and flaunt the precepts of modesty and decency that he strived to live.


I'd have asked you to dance again. Well, maybe not - - I was only 5'4" at age twelve.

JulieAnn said...

Is Salt Lake CIty a 'real city'? LOL

SML, email me so I can interview you; your email link doesn't work for me.

I can't believe you stuffed your bra (my bra stuffing story is much more embarrassing. Especially since it was a few days ago...) kidding.

Rebecca said...

Oh! The humiliation of dances! I love that you got so decked out - Halloween in our house was all about scrounging for a makeshift costume at the last minute. To my everlasting regret. You should TOTALLY post pictures!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Gluby, you may be right about the moral of the story. "I learned the truth at seventeen...that love was meant for beauty queens..."

Thayne, I don't know of any girl over the age of 6 who appreciates the word "big" being used to describe her.....Just sayin'. And for the record, I don't struggle with the sexy boots ~ just with the concrete barriers that trip me up.

Supernova, I know! I sure wish I had.

CV Rick, I'm certain that if my dad had been in town, no daughter of his would have left the house with boobs the size of mine that night. No way. Also, you have no idea how many times I'd be sitting in later church dances, and some guy would ask me to dance, but after I stood up and it was obvious I was inches taller, he'd mutter "nevermind" and walk away. I hope you weren't one of those guys.

JulieAnn, do tell! I have never stuffed my own bra. Never needed to.

Rebecca, I have no pictures of that night! Photos at our house were taken as slides. I have very few pics of me as a youngster.

Sideon said...

Wonderful story. You've got guts, putting it out there.

I never had a humiliating dance experience... because I never went to a dance, not even in high school. Junior prom, I ended up taking the girl home after dinner. All these years later, I'm kicking myself for not asking her brother instead. When I see all the articles about proms and dances, part of me wonders what they would have been like.

Anonymous said...

You have a gift for combining the humor of an adult looking at childhood travails, with the peculiar ache of nostalgia. I so enjoy your stories!

CV Rick said...

Nope, I wasn't the type to ask for a dance then walk away. But I was so shy as to go a whole dance without asking anyone to dance at all.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Sideon, it's not gutsy for me to write this, unless the mental image of a 12 year old SML in gypsy getup is too much.....oh, no. Is it too much? And I had no idea? Is that what you're trying to tactfully say??

Phaedrus, I'm glad you enjoy my stories!

CV Rick, I'd dance with you at any age, any height. I think that first dance at age 12 was the last time I turned someone down who asked me to dance. I recognized after he walked away how much guts it must take to ask someone, because I wanted to ask him afterward to dance with me...but I just couldn't find the bravery.

Cele said...

oh to sweet a story SML. My bra stuffing story is circa second grade. I apparently Ishould have tried stuffing my brains.

Bishop Rick said...

Greetings from Beijing. Didn't go to my first church dance until I was 16. Never heard of a mormon before that. I danced with every girl in the room. That really wasn't that many. Church dances were small in rural VA.

Liseysmom said...

Oh yes. At church dances there were exactly two people I could possible dance with because I was also an Amazon, 5'9" by my 14th birthday. No guy would dance with a taller girl.

So it was either my dad or my brother. Yay me!! No wonder I was socially stunted until later in high school when the guys finally started to get taller...

from the ashes said...

Thank goodness the guy was so well-adjusted that he could take the rejection!

Great story, hon.

Freckle Face Girl said...

That was sweet. You must have looked HOT!

Emily Pearson said...

Why did my heart seize when I read the last paragraph of this post? Ouch! All those life moments that were lost before we learned to "Carpe that freakin' Diem!" Loved this one SML!!!

Jer said...

I envy your ability to capture the emotion from your past in your writing and have it come through so clearly to everyone else.