It all started quite a few months ago now, when Laura and I were still getting to know one another. Somewhere in the breaks between bothering my neighbours one of us mentioned dancing.
"I've never done it," I said, "but I've always meant to take lessons. Ballroom dancing - you know, waltzes, polkas, that kind of thing." (When I said, "I've never done it," I meant, "since one or two hideous episodes in gym class in grade 8. Technically not true, but close enough for the Toronto Symphony.)
Laura snorted. "Ballroom?!? Swing is where it's at, baby!"
"Jesus! Isn't that really fast? Why don't I start with ballroom," I suggested, ever the evolutionist, "then move on to swing?"
"Swing," said Laura and I - dominant male that I am - agreed.
Months went by. Once in a while we'd bring it up, agree that we really should get cracking, then got busy bothering the neighbours and forgot about for the time being.
Until not long before Christmas, when we got serious.
On Friday, we found ourselves in the desolation that is Bloor and Dovercourt and made our way to a church where a "west-cost swing dance" (with lessons!) was to be held. The old phrase, two left feet, certainly seemed to apply to me. Step-step-step, step-step-step, really shouldn't be that hard.
But it was.
Ego-bruised, but otherwise well, I blamed the lack of actual teaching along with my extreme case of exhaustion for my poor showing.
And boldly signed us up for an actual 9-week class. This time, out at an old United Church on the Danforth.
At first, things seemed much better.
Where before there had been 50 people, this time there were probably no more than 12 or 13. One instructor, one assistant. This, I thought, should go well.
(You guys are all ahead of me, aren't you, Gentle Readers?)
The concept is easy. Left foot to the side, right foot follows, left foot moves again; reverse the process, then bring your left foot behind the right and lean forward on the right.
Simple, isn't it?
Not for me it isn't! Christ, by the end of the class I still hadn't mastered that basic step, and meanwhile was trying to keep up with turns, counter-turns and god damned spins.
Laura, of course, was angel throughout, and only made fun of me about 17,000 times.
Nevertheless she did predict it would take me three classes to get things down and I am only hoping she's right.