I’ve never been a dancer. The ballet performances I did at age six for my mother, wearing my homemade tutu, a slip that was silky at top and flared out in rough crinoline at the bottom, would never have drawn applause from anyone else. It takes a bit more than passion to please an audience.

I did the twist, the jerk and the pony when listening to music with my preteen friends in the confines of one of our homes. But do any of those dances in public? No. I survived school dances as a teen because by moving in rhythm with the music, I looked like I knew what I was doing. Of course, slow dancing with a boyfriend was a piece of cake since there wasn’t much movement involved beyond making sure you weren’t separated by even a fraction of an inch. Everyone’s eyes were closed anyway, so it didn’t really matter how you looked.

When I was in college, a date took me to Ye Olde Fireplace in Greenville, South Carolina, to listen to Charlie Spivak’s big band. Even better than the music was the beauty on the dance floor—couples dancing and twirling in moves I had never seen or hoped to duplicate. It seemed part of a ritzy, elegant lifestyle far beyond the simplicity with which I had been raised. My date was just a country boy himself; maybe he hoped to sophisticate both of us in that environment.

A lifetime passed and when the kids were nearly grown, George and I started to consider activities that might feather our empty nest. We spoke of ballroom dance lessons.

George bought a motorcycle instead. Vroom.

Within a few years, though, he surprised me for Christmas with a gift certificate to a dance studio. At long last I was going to really learn to dance.

Foxtrot. Waltz. Swing.

Look out “Dancing With the Stars.”

We did fine as long as our instructor was by our sides, counting the beats. But when we ventured forth on our own, we were a disaster. George couldn’t move in time to the music, the one thing I naturally do whether dancing or not. (There’s a reason friends refer to me as a human metronome.)

The problem arose because I was supposed to follow George’s lead—even if he was out of sync with the music. I couldn’t do it.

I either move in time or I don’t move at all.

We settled on not at all, so it looks like I won’t glide across the floor at Ye Olde Fireplace in the future.

Good thing I never bought dancin’ shoes.

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