Written by David Vogel Tuesday, 09 January 2007 18:00I don't know what you were doing the last Friday night of 2006, nor do I need to know, but I personally spent the evening making a fool out of myself.
Several weeks ago, I received an invitation on Facebook, inviting me to go salsa dancing in Wichita.
In case you haven't been following recent youth trends (and God bless you for that), Facebook is a Web site that is made up of networks for various organizations, such as high schools, colleges, businesses, geographical regions and convicted felons.
Of course, I'm kidding about that last one. The convicted felons just sneak into other networks so that they can have a Facebook account.
Once one owns a personal Facebook account, one can abandon all forms of correct grammar usage-such as saying "one" instead of "you," which, as far as I'm concerned, isn't nearly as complicated as "who" and "whom"-and post messages back and forth with one's Facebook Friends, which are people who (or quite possibly whom) have been confirmed as someone the account holder personally knows.
Of course, Facebook doesn't have a lie-detector test, so it is possible to confirm people as friends that you have never technically met, or heard of, for that matter. I know I have.
Another feature on Facebook is to invite people to various events. And as I was saying, several weeks ago I received such an invitation.
"More Dancing!!!!" the invitation stated. "This time we're gonna learn how to salsa!"
Facebook has no exclamation mark limits, either.
I accepted the invitation, without considering the fact that, technically speaking, I have the grace of an unusually heavyset elephant trying to balance atop the Empire State Building, with some moron shaking pepper down its trunk.
The closest exposure to dancing I ever got was watching the kids on "Barney" do poorly choreographed movements while they were singing. Being raised with a Mennonite background, the most physical activity ever required of me is walking through potluck lines.
This can get straining when having to decide between the cheesy potatoes with vegetables or just the plain cheesy potatoes. You get to the end of the line with the German chocolate cake with or without coconut in the frosting, and you may as well just go home.
Needless to say, as the date of the salsa dancing lessons approached, I began to get increasingly nervous.
In addition to the 16 students from Hillsboro High School who ended up going to salsa, there was also a middle-aged couple in attendance. As we entered into the dance studio that Friday night, the instructor Harry walked out from the back room.
A look of dread and horror flashed across his face as he observed the large quantity of teenagers that had just walked into his facility. I felt sort of bad for him.
"This is a surprise," Harry said, forcing a smile that looked incredibly painful.
I found Harry to be fairly ironic. First, despite his name, Harry was, for lack of a better phrase, bald as a Q-ball. Second, for a dance instructor, he looked to be better suited for an activity that required a lot more contact with a La-Z-Boy recliner.
Harry began the one-and-a-half hour course by telling us about salsa dancing and explaining that the guys would be leading. "There are two words you guys are going to have to learn to say," Harry warned. "My fault."
We started the lesson by learning three main salsa steps. These were peeling tomatoes, chopping tomatoes and dicing onions.
No, wait! That's the beginning to a salsa chip-dip recipe.
The three dance steps for salsa we learned were the Back Basic, the Side Step Side and the Mambo.
(Of course, it could be the Basic Back, the Step Side Step and the Mamba. I really can't remember anymore.)
These were fairly simple, as all they required were some simple foot movements, and since I am fairly accustomed to walking, I caught on quickly.
Unfortunately, then Harry decided it was time to put us with partners. After stumbling around with music and several different partners for a while, we then began to learn some more complicated movements, which involved a lot of spinning.
While we Hillsboro students were awkwardly tripping over each other's feet, the older couple appeared to be much more experienced in salsa dancing, as measured in hip-rotations-per-second.
There came a point when I was dancing with my girlfriend, Amanda, and I decided to try something creative. "Try" being the key word in that sentence.
As if on cue, Harry appeared, and began giving me a two-minute lecture. I'm not exactly sure what he actually said; maybe something about my job being to make the girl look good.
I did a lot of nodding.
Meanwhile, Amanda was about to pass out from trying not to laugh out loud. Amanda apparently finds me to be funny, as she also finds it largely amusing when my voice cracks.
Even though none of us ended up being pro salsa dancers, everyone appeared to have a good time. Amanda even commented that I wasn't that bad. Of course, this is coming from the girl who somehow ended up leading half the time.
So I'm not the greatest dancer. Whom cares?
* * *
UFO: Once you file something, there's a 98 percent chance you'll never look at it again.
Don't ask why.