I have a unique link with Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron. We both worked at the same radio station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We worked the 7-midnight shift. I preceeded his tenure at WHEB FM, a Knight Quality Station. WHEB was 24 hour station so it probably should have been a Day and Knight Quality Station. Perhaps if I had his voice and looks, I'd be on TV today, and he'd be writing this blog. But that's another story.
My wife and I have been together for six years, and married for almost four. We've talked about taking ballroom dance lessons since we first started dating. It sounded like fun. Sounded is a past tense usage of the word sound.
Well something, perhaps it was the unusually mild weather, or that fact that my wife needs to have microsurgery on her herniated disc, prompted her, meaning us, to sign up for eight weeks of classes.
I welcomed this, because I thought I could avoid watching DWTS if I could actually go out and learn how to dance. As they say, you can't teach an Old English Sheepdog new tricks, but I was up for the challenge.
Besides, it was a community continuing ed class. Who else would be there?
Twelve other couples. We are not the oldest ones there, and we could be among the youngest. I mean I think I look younger than the others there.
Our instructor, Irene, is an HR professional during the day, where she must inflict countless amounts of mayhem on unsuspecting employees.
Once a week, she gets to have 24 adults to abuse physically for two hours. After the first class last week, I found out I had muscle pain, where I didn't have muscles.
Not to mention my perceived humiliation of not being to accomplish the most simple dance steps for the foxtrot. My wife, who likes to lead, had difficulty following. She was concerned about her dyslexia. I was concerned about my two left feet and no sense of rhythm or timing.
We did have fun, and I got to make her laugh while she was trying to be serious. She said you should use different hand signals to indicate which step or direction we're supposed to take. When she failed to make the correct step and criticized me for my poor communication, I said, "Hey I just gave you the "finger." Didn't you just get the "finger"?
She burst into hysterical laughter and the instructor came over to help with her making the correct turn. After the coaching Irene said to me, "remember to at least meet her halfway."
I responded, " I'm married to her. I do that at least once a day. Those are instructions I can follow."
This week, Irene had us switch partners and the women would practice the same steps with a different man, until each woman was back with her original partner. When Ms. Sheepdog got back to me she said with a large amount of incredulity, "You are not the worst one here."
While I'm self concious about my lack of dancing prowess and shared this with her, we quickly reverse roles for a moment and she tries to offer helpful advice and suggestions.
"No dear, I don't need the problem solved for me," I said. "This is where you're supposed to use empathy and say, "I understand."
Next week we're on to week three of this eight week engagement. Not a network cancellation or snow day in sight.