A Lifetime of Unintended Rejection
A Writer’s Book of Days (09/02) – He asked you to dance
And I politely said no. I was 13 and suspected every boy had an ulterior motive. Mostly to tease me—I was overweight, shy, and somewhat awkward. On top of it, I had two left feet. Why would a boy ask me to dance?
I watched as my fellow junior high classmates slow danced to the beginning of Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” It was a predictable close to the evening—our school dances always ended after the two same songs. Around 8:45 or so, Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For,” would begin to play, and all of the girls would huddle into big circles and sway back and forth to the mawkish lyrics. Afterwards, the cool kids would break off into couples for “Last Dance,” while the rest of us stood on the sidelines until the disco tempo kicked in. At 9:00, sweaty from the crowded church hall, we’d pile into our parents’ cars and take over 90% of the tables at Friendly’s, the unofficial post-event gathering spot.
Over a Reese’s Pieces sundae, my friend asked me why I hadn’t accepted his invitation.
“Eh, he’s kind of weird,” I replied. (Never mind I was wearing a pair of my brother’s baggy jeans, a Pink Floyd The Division Bell t-shirt, peace sign earrings from Claire’s, and purple glitter eye shadow.)
She shrugged. “Maybe he likes you.”
“No way,” I said.
It was just the beginning of teenage years and a young adulthood oblivious to boys who liked me. Unless they came out straight and said so, it went right over my head. I couldn’t tell flirting from teasing and genuine interest from, “Oh, he’s just being friendly.”
Luckily, my now-husband was a bit more straightforward when we first met. (He even asked permission to flirt with me—ooh, a boy likes me!)
I do wonder, though, what life would have been like had I just accepted my classmate’s dance invitation, or in my later years, a post-dinner drink.
To all the men out there I may have inadvertently rejected or made feel awkward, my apologies.
But trust me, you still don’t want to dance with me. I’ll step on your toes all night.