Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fear and Loathing at Roosevelt Junior High School

It was a Friday night in April of 1979 and the gymnasium at Roosevelt Jr. High School was littered with a frenzy of excited, yet uneasy 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.

A hundred or more teenagers had decided that night to ignore the social clumsiness of their teenage awkwardity, put their dollar down, and subject themselves to the possibility of ultimate rejection and humiliation, by attending a junior high dance.

I was there that night in all of my 14 year old, what is this testosterone you speak of, greenhorn glory, and…I remember it like it was yesterday.


Beneath a ceiling full of blue and white streamers, and under the watchful and amused eyes of teachers who were conned in to being chaperones, the kids danced in seizure like form to the music of Wild Cherry, Foghat, and KISS.

The boys and girls in loose confederation within the center of the gym, shook and grooved with their inhibitions unencumbered and their smiles illuminating the dance floor. And then? It happened…

As the KISS track faded into an echo, the DJ segued into a series of songs that were made for slow dancing.

The boys immediately went to one side of the gym and the girls to the other, and…

All of the hot, happy sweat resulting from the upbeat moves of the crowd, upon hearing Three Times a Lady by The Commodores manifested itself into a cold, clammy, devil-like taunt that inquired…

“Are you going to ask that person to dance.”

With each side firmly rooted within their respective gender specific garden of wallflowers, I saw a guy and a girl hiding in plain sight of each other.

They were looking at each other, but at the same time, not looking at each other. Acting disinterested, yet, incredibly interested and more importantly…hopeful.

The nausea of teenage angst and the risk of humiliation made both parties sick. The feelings of anxiety were only slightly allayed by making stupid jokes with their friends that resulted in nervous laughter.

And then, I saw them move towards one another. Which one moved first I cannot remember, but there they were in the middle of the gym that had grown so empty.

She in blue-gray polyester pants and scuffed up black half boots, and he in jeans and a hand me down shirt that never quite fit.

He could smell the scent of strawberry lip gloss on her lips and unfortunately, she caught a whiff of the TJ Swan Midnight Express on his, but…

They dared to dance. And dance they did, and before they knew it…The song was over, and that was that some 32 years ago.

I had forgotten about that night until a day or two ago.

You see…I was the guy, and a chick named Jenni was the girl, and oddly enough we bumped into each other.

We didn’t bump into each other like we did all those 32 years ago, but on Facebook.

We chuckled together because although neither of us can remember what we did five minutes ago, we both remember that dance. And? I like that.

I often complain about how impersonal the internet can be, but in this instance, I dig the 'net, because…

While that dance with Jenni in April of ‘79 may have appeared to last only three minutes, it has actually lasted 32 years. And?

It enabled me to say “Hi” to an old friend.

Cheers!!

16 comments:

Jay said...

How can I leave smart-ass, yet hilarious comments if you're gonna keep being all heartwarming and sweet and shit?

Matt-Man said...

Jay: I can't help it. I don't know what has come over me. Please bear with me. Cheers Funny Man!!

Mike said...

I went to Roosevelt HIGH school a decade+ before that.

Beth said...

That is the freaking sweetest thing ever!!! Now, go back to being an ass, I can't take it;)

Matt-Man said...

Mike: well hell, that makes you and I practically related. Cheers Mike!!

Schmoop: Hey now...You know the real me, and know that my sweetness and ability to be an asshole are often seperated only by minutes. Cheers and Zooooooves!!

Beth said...

True dat!

Matt-Man said...

Schmoop: Word. Cheers!!

Dianne said...

I love this post
you described a teenage dance so perfectly
with heart and sweetness
just plain lovely

Matt-Man said...

Dianne: Why thank ya sexy, and thaks for calling in yesterday. have a lovely day hot stuff. Cheers!!

MysteryChick said...

Awww! Very sweet Matt-Man.

I went to my first Jr. High School dance in 1981. Nobody asked me to dance but that my have been because it was a Halloween dance and I wore my brothers hockey equipment.

The Mysterychick, cockblocking herself since 1981!

Matt-Man said...

Chick: Ha. I would have thought that that was clever and been all over you. You could have had your way with me during a power play. Cheers Sexy!!

Desert Rat said...

I'm reliving the pain... you described it perfectly, although we would actually line up and do "the hustle" and girls would do "the bump" with other girls. Guys never asked me to dance - I was too much of a dork.

That's totally cool that you got back in touch with your friend. FB can be really good for that.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Are you sure this was not just a memory from some John Hughes film you watched over the weekend?

Just askin.....

Matt-Man said...

Rat: The only reason I can think of as to why no one danced with you is because you went to the dance with all those pencils in your face. Cheers Lovely One!!

Vin: I'm positive. It was stored in my noggin. Cheers Vin!!

Raquel's World said...

Wine in middle school?? Why Matt- Man shame on you.

Matt-Man said...

Raquel: I know...I feel awful about it. Cheers Hot stuff!!