He won't dance; don't ask him
I have never watched "Dancing With the Stars," television's most popular program. I've read newspaper reports about it, and notice that it redefines what a "star" is, but I just can't bring myself to tune in for several reasons including, but not...
I have never watched "Dancing With the Stars," television's most popular program. I've read newspaper reports about it, and notice that it redefines what a "star" is, but I just can't bring myself to tune in for several reasons including, but not limited to, Wayne Newton.
First, there's the "cheaps" factor. Only a few people know what the cheaps are, but everyone gets them or feels them. It's the feeling of frozen embarrassment you get when you see people making fools of themselves publicly. It could be a bad actor in a play or a singer who shouldn't sing or a political candidate who shouldn't run -- or me dancing. Dance is fraught with opportunities for the cheaps.
The word "cheaps" to describe feeling cheap for another appears to have had brief currency during my high school years in Duluth and then disappeared from general parlance. I passed the concept on to my own children, and I'm counting on them to pass it on to theirs. It covers a lot of ground, in and out of show business and politics.
But we were dancing with the stars. Not. Reason No. 2 that I don't watch it is that I'm a terrible dancer myself. I used to think I was a pretty good dancer, old ballroom style, but I can see now that I wasn't. I was faking it. I never mastered "twirls" at all, and my performance on the true waltz -- one-two-three, one-two-three -- and the polka -- oom-pa-pa, oom-pa-pa -- could only bring to an observer's mind various debilitating diseases of the nervous system, not to mention a case of the cheaps. I do know enough not to rock back and forth sideways during slow ballroom moves.
The twist, the frug and the watusi became popular during my late adolescence or young manhood (take your pick) but I never embraced them, probably because they didn't embrace me. This was the dawn of don't-touch-your-partner dancing.
Another reason I'm cool toward "Dancing with the Stars" is that the church of my upbringing was against dancing. It was implied, if not declared, a "sin." We were old-school Lutherans and I'm sure most of the old-school Lutherans handled the proscription the way they handled the strictures against any drinking, but there it was -- the message. So I have a built-in prejudice against dancing, on moral grounds.
The church, by the way, did not address the biblical dictum, "Praise Him with timbrel and dance," but most of them pick and choose anyway when deciding what's a sin and what isn't. And what about poor Saint Vitus?
After I grew up, I became acquainted with a few "rich kids" who had taken dancing lessons as children. My only childhood exposure to dance was dreaded square dancing in elementary school gym classes.
The square dancing bug seems to afflict some people into their adulthood and golden years. But it's not for everyone. I had a friend whose wife tried to sign them up as a couple until he threatened to jump into the Duluth ship canal if she went through with it.
I thought I liked watching Irish "Riverdance" style dancing until I sat through an entire week of it one night in Minneapolis.
So there it is: Your turn to curtsy, my turn to bow out.
E-mail Jim Heffernan at firstname.lastname@example.org . For previous columns go to duluthnewstribune.com.