'Follow, dear' is easier said than done

March 4, 2007 

Maybe it's because I got hooked on watching "Dancing With the Stars." Maybe it's because we've been married for nearly 20 years and the closest thing to a formal dance hubby and I can do is the hokey pokey. And even that's dicey because I often forget to put my whole self in.

Whatever the reason, here we were, one Sunday afternoon a week, taking Beginning Ballroom Dance in a mirror-lined room alongside a dozen other jittery couples wearing "Hello" nametags. In my mind, I would be Lisa Rinna to hubby's Harry Hamlin. We'd be good at this. After all, didn't we have several decades' experience standing around with our eyes closed, swinging our heads from side to side during "Free Bird"? We had rhythm. Sort of.

But now that we are in week four of six, I'm embarrassed that I ever poked fun at Jerry Springer's spazzy start on "Stars." He was a god of dancing, a regular Mario Baryshnikov compared to me.

The problem?

Our teacher, a wonderfully graceful woman who always appears to float a couple of inches over the dance floor, took me aside and explained it simply: "My dear, you have a wobbly box."

Hubby's jaw dropped.

"I beg your pardon?" I said.

"Your box step is out of line," she said. "It's a bit wobbly. You'll get it; it just takes time. You know it took me at least six months to learn the box step."

"Really?"

"Of course not."

She demonstrated with hubby who suddenly looked like John O'Hurley now that he had a proper partner.

Unfortunately, this empowered him to become the Family Dance Expert, and he took to orchestrating little impromptu practice sessions throughout the week.

"I'm honestly worried about your merengue," he said gravely one night.

"I'm honestly worried about your chances of living to see the next class," I said.

Hubby practically fainted with pleasure when the instructor reminded us the male is always in charge and we must follow their lead at all times.

"Excuse me," I said, raising my hand. "You do realize that you're asking me to follow a man who gets lost driving to the mailbox, right?"

I was having trouble making the transition from being our family's "decider" to following hubby's lead on the dance floor.

I tried to lead a few times but the instructor magically appeared at my elbow like Tinkerbell, floating above the floor and whispering in my ear. "Follow, dear. Let him lead."

"You heard her," hubby said, executing a perfect series of rock steps. Somewhere, in the distance, I could practically hear Emmitt Smith voicing soft approval: "You're the big easy now, dawg."

Contact CELIA RIVENBARK at celiariven@aol.com or visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

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