Personal, Story

Tricia Goes Two Stepping

I have two friends in Dallas who are too cool for me.  Stephanie and Candice actually go out on weekends, and I usually beg off because I’m working late, watching Netflix, or reading a new book.  But since my time in the great state of Texas is running out, I agreed to go two stepping with them.  This would allow me to do two things:  hang out with friends in their natural habitat and experience a distinctly Texan entertainment.

IMG_4318Stephanie loaned me her cowboy boots, since I never did buy a pair during my three years here.  The night of the two stepping, I stared at my feet, trying to imagine I felt normal in them.  Nope.  I felt like I was playing dress up.

Ten minutes after she was supposed to meet me, Lindsay texted and asked, “Can I bring Shipley??”  Shipley is her golden retriever, famous for calming anxious minds.  “Only if I can bring Rory,” I responded, since the idea of dancing with strangers was also making me crave some cuddle-time with my cat.

We arrived at the two stepping dance hall, and I froze.  “Are we…do we dance in that??” I asked.  There was an oval wooden track in the center of the massive room, with a bar and tables in a lowered middle section and counters and tables surrounding it on the outside.  Everyone was always looking at everyone on the dance floor. 

“Want to get a drink?” Lindsay asked.

Yes,”  I answered.

Candice and her friends had not shown up.  “Have you gone two stepping before?” I asked Lindsay.

“Yeah,” she admitted.  “It was awful.  I always try to lead.”

I burst out laughing.  “I never thought about trust issues playing out on the dance floor.”

IMG_4319“Oh yeah,” she said.  “You want me to hold on to you, a male stranger?  And walk backwards, trusting that you will keep me from hitting something or tripping or falling over?  No thank you.”

“This is a nightmare,” I groaned.

Candice arrived, hands in the air and excited to see us.  I plastered on a fake smile and ordered a second drink.  “I’ve never two stepped before,” I yelled at Candice over the music.  “Will you teach me?”

“Sure!” she said.  After a quick lesson from her fiancee on how to lead like a man, Candice pushed me across the floor, smiling assurances every time I stumbled and stepped off-beat.

“Your turn!” I said, shoving Lindsay at Candice.  She was just as awful, which was nice.

“I can’t stop leading,” Lindsay said.  I stepped into the female role and we two-stepped together.  I laughed.  “Now I’m leading!  Sorry!”

“Equality!” Lindsay shouted.  We collapsed over ourselves, laughing loudly at our feminist humor.

Someone tapped my shoulder.  “Would you like to dance?”  I turned to see a short middle-aged man in a tall cowboy hat.  Feeling good from laughter and drinks, I agreed.  We stepped onto the dreaded circular track.

“I’m really bad at this!” I forewarned him.  “This is my first time!”

“You are good,” he said, smiling constantly and guiding me expertly through the dancers as I stumbled around.  I did find a rhythm eventually, though I had to look over his shoulder and avoid eye contact to do it.  The song ended a couple minutes later, and he spun me into his arms.  I froze and stared at him wide-eyed, face inches from his.  I extricated an arm and patted him awkwardly on the shoulder.  “Um, thanks!” I screeched before fleeing the dance floor.

“He was going to kiss me!” I hissed at Lindsay when I collapsed into the seat beside her.

“He was going to dip you,” she said.

“….Oh.  OH.  That makes so much more sense.”  I laughed again, imagining his reaction to my pointless panic.

11209460_10153257682806240_2362399467613635558_nThe music changed, shifting from country to hip hop, and Candice grabbed our arms and pulled us onto the dance floor.  We hopped and shimmied and threw our arms around.  I looked like an idiot, but for several blissful minutes I didn’t care.  Then the dance break was over, and the two stepping began again.  We left the floor to find more of Candice’s friends had arrived.

I had reached my giddy stage of the night, so I forced a cute boy to take Lindsay out dancing despite her glares, and I asked one of the guys in the group to dance with me.  Once again, I prefaced the invitation with, “I’m really terrible at this.”

He took my hand and pulled me close.  “Stop hopping,” he said.  “Just glide your feet.”

I shuffled backward.

“Better, just…stop thinking about it.”

I stopped thinking, and subsequently lost the beat and started tripping over my own feet.  I grimaced.  “I’m sorry!  I really am awful.”

“No, no.  You’re doing great!”

I frowned at him and we laughed at his bald-faced lie.  “This will be easier,” he said, and pulled my body into his.  I was about to pull away in protest of this extreme closeness when I realized….it really did make dancing easier.  Okay, so.  This was a really effective move on his part.  I shifted my hand so that I was half-embracing him as he shouted, “Where are you from?” into my ear.

“Peoria, Illinois!” I answered.

“I have family in Champaign!  I go there every summer,” he said.  He spun me out, around, back into his arms.  I laughed giddily.

The music died and we walked back to our friends.  He stood next to me and continued to talk.  My heart sank, because I can only do intimacy with a male stranger for five minutes at a time.  Dancing closely with someone who had connections to my home state was not acceptable.

“So do you come out here a lot?” he asked.

“No,” I said.  “This is my first time.”

“What do you do on weekends?”

I stared at him, gauging my options.  I decided to shut this down before it began.  “I watch a lot of Netflix.  I’m not really a partier.”

His face lit up.  “Awesome!  What are you watching?”

I frowned.  This was not going well.  I glanced over to see Lindsay, Candice, and the newly arrived Stephanie looking at us.

A new song started, and the guy asked if I wanted to dance again.  “….Sure,” I agreed sullenly.

After the second dance, I beelined to Lindsay and threw my arms around her as though I had something important to say.  One of the other people in the group cooed, “He loooooves you!” at me.

“We need to leave!” I shout-whispered in Lindsay’s ear.

“Don’t you like him?” she asked.

“He’s very nice and cute, and I want to leave.”

The music shifted to hip hop again, and Candice once again dragged us on the floor.  All alcohol had left my body, and my dread over a pleasant interaction with a kind man made my limbs useless.  Someone pushed me into the center of a dance circle, and I let the momentum propel me to the other side, shaking my head vehemently when they insisted I show off my dance moves.  I accidentally made eye contact with the guy, who was dancing happily.

“I want to go home!” I shouted at Lindsay again.

“Don’t go home!” Candice and Stephanie screamed back.  “It’s barely midnight.”

I feigned a yawn.  “So late!”

Thankfully, the music went back to country, and our friends unhappily allowed us to leave.  I shouted, “It was nice to meet you,” at the guy, then pulled Lindsay out the door.  I had successfully escaped a potentially lovely and healthy male person.  When we got into my car, I started laughing.

“What?” Lindsay asked.

“It’s no wonder I’m still single,” I admitted.

Lindsay nodded, thinking about her own reluctance to dance with anyone, I assumed.  “Same.”

“At least we have each other!” I said.

We high-fived.

“You’re the Leslie Knope to my Ann Perkins,” she said.

“No, you’re the Leslie Knope to my Ann Perkins,” I insisted.

“Let’s go home.  I want to sleep.”

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