On Love and Embarrassment


There is something I have been waiting for for eleven years and I have finally received word that this event will take place in February of next year. The news arrived via text message:

“Are you up for the ****** School 4th & 5th Grade Valentine’s Day dance? I’m ready to do the stanky leg! I can’t wait!”

As I have mentioned in a previous post, my clubbin’ days are pretty much behind me so, an elementary school dance is just my cup of tea. The message went on to stress that it is a family dance and included this plea:

“Awww…yeah! Come on Aunt Lyd!”

How could I say no? As in many families, we show our love through hugs, airport pick-ups, harassment and embarrassment, the latter two often working in tandem. A grade school dance handily combines the last two and we (my siblings and I) have been waiting patiently for this time to come. We would never dream of going to one of our kids’ high school dances but grade school is perfect—the kids will kind of be embarrassed but also kind of feel warm and fuzzy about it. I’m pretty sure the school administrators didn’t have aunts, uncles and cousins in mind when they opened the dance to family members but guess what? Brooklyn will be rollin’ up into Central Jersey ready to tear it up. And when I say Brooklyn, I mean me and possibly the rest of my family if I can convince them to come. With the cold, short, dreary days of winter, I find comfort in my Earl Grey but all that caffeine turns me extra jittery but come Day of the Dance, I won’t hold back. I will need all the energy I can muster so I can break out the old school moves. I’m talking the whop (the original, not this nonsense I’ve seen on YouTube), the smurf, the prep, the running man and I might even pull the bump out my back pocket.

The embarrassing lingo I’ll whip out for the occasion:

“Y’all don’t know nothin’ about this here!”
“I’mma put my thang down, flip it and reverse it!”
“Don’t throw water on me, just let me burn!”

If we get the DJ (will there be a DJ or just somebody’s phone?) to play some early 90s house music we could even lead the kids in a double-clap before the beat drops.

It will be a day she will tell all of her therapists about, not because she was traumatized but because it will become a cherished memory of quality family time. It may even be so grand of a day that her friends will tell their therapists about it. Some of you may be wondering why I am so excited about embarrassing my niece? Shouldn’t I be doing the exact opposite? And my answers to those questions are because I love her and no. As much as I’m going on about it, we’re not going to take over a grade school dance but we will gleefully share in her first school dance experience. She may be embarrassed just a smidgen but she will be thrilled just a smidgen more that we (or just I) trooped all the way across the Hudson to be there. When she’s grown, she’ll not only vividly remember her very first school dance but the thought will also make her bust out laughing. That’s right, bust, not burst because I am talking about a next level eruption of laughter and joy and that, my friends, is priceless.

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