It is Dancing That I Fear

I was the best man at my cousin Louis’ wedding last summer.

Upon their arrival at the reception, the bride and groom began to spontaneously dance.  This was before the dinner.  This was tragic.

You see, I fear dancing like a normal person fears swimming with piranha.

I fear dancing because I am not good at dancing.  My dancing scares children.

So I had a plan.

When dancing began after dinner, I would disappear.  The reception was being held in the backyard of a large mansion and I was going to go inside and hide.  Like Richie Rich, I was going to get lost in rooms no one had known existed.

But this spontaneous dance, it ruined everything.

For one thing, all of us in the wedding party were surrounding the bride and groom on the dance floor.  Behind us were 400 guests all standing and clapping.  Had I known this was going to happen when we assembled on the dance floor for the introduction of the bride and groom, I would have dug a hole in the nearby lawn and crouched down in it.

Worse, the dance was some traditional Persian number.  Louis’ bride was Persian.  And the woman could dance.  Better than I had ever seen anyone dance in my life.

I had just one ace-in-the-hole.  His name was Louis.

Louis was lame.  Louis would suck.  Like me, he was Greek.  He didn’t know Persian dancing from Persian rugs.  So Louis would suck, and then I’d have to dance, and I’d suck, and everything would be fine.

But no.

Louis was phenomenal.  Louis was professional.

Louis had been tipped off.

You see, what looked like a spontaneous dance to everyone was nothing of the sort.  Everyone else knew it was coming.  Everyone else had received training.  This wasn’t a wedding.  It was “Dancing with the Stars.”

And that was just the beginning.  Done with their opening number, the bride and groom pulled the maid of honor onto the dance floor for the next Persian tune.  And she was better than both of them.  If Louis and his wife had been trained, this was their trainer.

And this was where the tragic turned cataclysmic.

Because this wasn’t just anyone dancing.

This was the woman with whom I had been paired throughout the wedding.


If she was dancing, you-know-who was next.

It was as though the tornado I had been watching destroy the next town just took out my neighbor’s front porch.  The natural disaster that is dancing was now at my doorstep and I was trembling in the fetal position at the bottom of my bathroom tub.

And the guests could not have been happier.  They were ecstatic.  It was as though they were being treated to a Vegas show.  And they were.   They were being entertained by professionals, and each act was better than the last.   Had someone just dangled from a rope above stage, this would have been Persian Cirque du Soleil.

And then there was me.  Clapping like an angry monkey with a nervous disorder at the edge of the stage.

And then the inevitable happened.

The maid of honor turned her head to look for me.  Her dancing partner.  Someone the crowd would surely expect to have been trained like the previous three entertainers. Only better.

And suddenly, it was 1986.

Church hall.  Height of the break-dancing craze.  Crowd of onlookers encircling two of my cousins doing the “worm” across the center of the dance floor.  For those unversed in the phenomena that was break-dancing, the “worm” was a popular break-dancing move where a person lies face down on the dance floor and rolls their  body from their toes to the tip of their head, like a smooth wave is passing through their body.

And here I admit something about Stephan circa-1986 that I have never admitted to anyone.

I had been practicing this move in my bedroom.  For weeks.

This was my move.  I could do the worm.

And so, without given it a further thought, I spontaneously got down onto my stomach from where I stood at the edge of the dance circle.  And began to do the worm across the dance floor.

In my memory of this moment, the music stopped.   All anyone could hear was the awkward slapping of my stomach against the cold, tile dance floor as I tried desperately to get to the other side.

I don’t know exactly what I looked like at that moment, but from the reaction of the audience, I’m guessing it was as if a trout had fallen from the rafters and was trying to make its way to the front door.

Making it worse, I ran headlong into someone who was doing the worm well.  Mortified, I kept worming, as though the collision hadn’t happened.  But I knew that it had, because my head started bleeding.

My spontaneous dance had shocked, mortified and drawn blood.  And it would be the last spontaneous dance of my life.

Because as the maid of honor reached out her hand, I was not there to grab it.

I was upstairs, locked in a bathroom, peeking my head between the lace curtains of the small bathroom window.

For the well-being of everyone.

46 thoughts on “It is Dancing That I Fear

  1. Clapping like an angry monkey with a nervous disorder at the edge of the stage – that is the best phrase I’ve heard in a long, long time.

  2. So what you’re saying is basically, you and Elaine Bennis (Seinfeld) should be the NEXT Dancing With the Stars contestants…?

  3. Oh. My. God. Too darn funny. You can really tell a story. You should consider writing a regular comedy novel in addition to the comic strip. Your blog posts absolutely crack me up.


  4. I should know better than you read your entries when I’m at work. My co-workers think something is really wrong with me, as I’m trying not to laugh out-loud…and failing miserably. I adore your blog Mr. Pasties 😉

  5. the same louis whose name you use to fill out sweepstakes forms? it’s like some kind of revenge.

  6. I have something similar, I am a HORRIBLE dancer… No rhythm whatsoever…….. I went to my cousin’s wedding 3 years ago, and the DJ was a friend of ours. So we were playing a “game” of like hot potato at the table, only we were using a rose. Well, he made sure to stop the music right at the moment I had gotten the rose. He gave me a little smirk, and I knew he did it on purpose. Much to my horror, the “prize” was to get up (each one of the tables had a “winner”)and dance to “Staying Alive”. We each had to do the dance alone, and they would judge us on who did it best…. Well, I was mortified… When my turn came, my cousin Jess pushed me out from behind her (She’s like 5’0, and I am 5’7″, in hindsight not such a good hiding spot), the music started playing, and I just snapped into action…. I don’t think I had ever moved like that before…Everyone was hysterical. It was very embarrassing. Even worse, someone got it on video.
    BTW, Stephan, we will do our best to get you into the Providence Journal!!

  7. Oh my god!! I think that’s the best story yet…I’m still giggling. Keep up the funny!!!

  8. Ah, reading this made me feel much better about that dance I was forced into at some anime convention a few weeks back.

    Undancers will rise up and rule the world!

  9. I’m so sorry… that must have been awful! I can’t dance for the life of me. 🙂 But you know, some people are just made for certain things… and you were made to draw comics. XD

  10. In my brother’s wedding on Sunday, he also did the worm with no prior knowledge of the move. I thought his attempt was sad….I thought

  11. You have my complete sympathy. I used to tell my ex (and I have three of them) that I did not dance before the fourth beer. Sounds like you did not get the chance to at least get liquored up before the dance.

  12. The worm is the only dance I can do. I feel your pain. I never dance. At those type of parties, I hang around by the food and drinks.

  13. LOL. You should have ran when you had the chance. Next time, pretend that you overdosed on Pepto-Bismo and RUN.

  14. As I’ve written earlier, INVITE to the weddings you go to! Trust me, you NEED a partner in crime . . .

  15. OMG! I feel your pain! Only there I was during the first dance and the jackass I was paired with walked off the floor and left me there….He later said that he “didn’t know what he was suppose to do” Thankfully he moved to Texas……enough said.

  16. I really hope you know your stories really brighten my day. It’s like someone created a funnier, yet more unfortunate person, similar to myself. I think the funny might come from the unforunate-ness of things, it would make sense.

  17. Try dancing in the dark first, when nobody’s around. Or take dance lessons- they’re refreshing! For someone to feel that they cannot dance, it would be sad because your self esteem might get affected. Give it another go!

  18. As a fellow person who can’t dance to save her life, I gotta say this was hilarious reading.

  19. Yeah, what’s with the dancing? It’s at weddings, Easter parties, restaurants, Greek festivals, EVERYWHERE! Why must there be dancing everywhere Greeks are? Hate it! You did the right thing.

  20. Why didn’t you just bust out into one of those arm-in-arm kicky-dancy-back-and-forth thingies you crazy Greeks do so much? That’s gotta be imbedded in your DNA for god’s sake.

    But the *worm*???? OMG… I’m actually mortified for you.

    (this post made me laugh so loudly, my coworker across the hall came in to see what the noise was about…)

  21. Of all the social/public things that a person could do, there is something about dancing that makes it the most potentially mortifyingly embarrasing thing ever if you think you’re doing it badly, or are actually doing it badly. Something that should be great fun and exhilirating is a source of real shame for many people (myself included).

    The problem usually is not doing the dance itself, but the open reactions of others which either stop you mid-dance or prevent you from ever dancing again because you remember how people reacted the last time. So many people can’t enjoy themselves at events because they’re mortified. That’s why they turn the lights down in clubs. And why everybody drinks.

  22. Your blogs just keep getting funnier and funnier… this one was so nicely told.. unlike how i explain things of course.

    I wonder how pathetic my life has become that i now sit and look for updates on this blog…

    Is it so bad to say these blogs are funny and interesting? after all.. it is created by a cartoonist…

    i think i should make commenting routine… see if anyone actually reads and responds to them…

  23. Seriously? SERIOUSLY??!? I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Get some help, Steph.

  24. So did people laugh or anything when they saw you on the floor and moving to the exit? And i found this post highly amusing.

  25. Great post – but, a year ago? Where’s the follow-up? Was it just that painful it could not be faced until time had passed? Had I been you, I would have beaten Louis with a stick for not warning me.

  26. Great story. I don’t dance either – so I became a DJ and no-one ever expects me to.

  27. you seriously did the worm? and you kept doing it till you were off the dance floor?

    you know how they say writers are obscure and out of touch with reality…?

  28. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard…kinda awkward, seeing as I’m at work. :*)

  29. Pingback: Being Facebook Friends with Stephan Pastis – Rats! « planetjan

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