September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
The deep, dark jungles of Fiji? The Aborigines of the Outback? No! It's a dance at a local junior high school!
Yes, I'm sad to report, the above description is entirely accurate. I should know, as I was subjected to this heinous rite myself.
The faculty at my junior high school must have decided that the student population had become too large. Let's have a dance, they said to each other. That will probably make a dozen or so of the kids die of embarrassment. Thin out the herd a bit.
The faculty sadistically heightened our suffering by announcing the dance a full two weeks in advance! I would have much preferred a more slaughterhouse-like approach: a moment of surprise and confusion then, Pow! It's all over.
The announcement of the upcoming dance caused our hormone-addled brains to jump into hyperdrive. The dance was on everyone's mind and was the topic of every conversation. Even my keen intellect was affected.
One day, I wakened from a daydream about the dance to find myself at the blackboard, diagramming the solution to a complex algebraic equation. And this was in history class! You can imagine my embarrassment. Until then, I had convinced all my instructors that I was a total mathematical nincompoop. Years of hard work were undone in mere moments.
The dreaded hour finally arrived and we were herded into the gym. We scarcely recognized the joint due to it being dimly lit with strings of cheap Christmas lights. In one corner sat a table that held a bowl of punch. An unseen record player blared out oldies, which we defined as any song we hadn't heard during the past week.
Back then, there was a strict rule of conduct which we assumed had been carved in stone along with the other Ten Commandments. This law stated that a girl could never, ever ask a boy to dance. I have been told that this law has since been repealed. And they call that "progress!"
The girls took up a position near the punch bowl. We boys bravely chose to huddle in the extreme opposite corner of the gym.
The girls stood around, trying not to look anxious. We boys milled about and punched each others' shoulders in an effort to appear cool. None of it was working.
The boys' phys-ed teacher, Mr. Jocklaw, took matters into his own hands. He paced before us, his face red with exasperation. "Get out there and dance, you pimple-faced idiots!" he bellowed tactfully. "Have some fun!"
But we knew that if Mr. Jocklaw ordered an activity, pain would be involved. After all, he had fibbed to us about how much we would enjoy "wind sprints" and "jumping jacks." We cowered deeper into the corner.
Every class has a dweeb and ours was Hermie. That day Hermie came to school with a crumpled paper sack under one arm. This didn't strike us as particularly unusual.
Hermie slipped unnoticed into the boys john. When he emerged a moment later, we boys gasped with disgust and revulsion. Hermie had sunk to a new low! He was wearing his now-wrinkled suit jacket, his ink-stained pocket protector serving as a pocket square!
Hermie strode confidently across no-man's land and made a beeline for the girls. Not just any girls, though: he was bearing down on a cluster of cheerleaders! The same group of young women we all assumed would produce the next Miss America or Cindy Crawford-like supermodel was about to be accosted by lowly Hermie!
I watched with fascinated horror as Hermie closed on his target. I heard several boys moan sorrowfully for our hapless comrade. Hermie's best friend seemed to be crying.
Then, a miracle! Hermie didn't merely survive contact with the girls; he was dancing with one of them! Other boys were thus emboldened and soon the old gym was throbbing with dancers.
We later had to grudgingly admit that a good time was had by all. Yet a question nagged us. Until now, Hermie had only led our class in zit production. Was he a genius or a fool?
Or perhaps, as Hermie put it, "It's that certain air of savoir faire!"[[In-content Ad]]
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