Saturday, August 14, 2010

Writing Prompt: The Dance

This writing prompt from Lisa Romeo. I've been away from writing for several weeks while we traveled. I always think I'm going to do a lot of writing on the road, but it never works out that way. My writer friends tell me it's important to take a break and refill the well, so I'm going to pretend that I did that. But now that I'm home, seems a writing prompt is a good way to get back into the swing of things. 10 minutes.

Without question, the longest two hours of my life. Longer than the time I was stuck on the tarmac in Cleveland during a snow storm. Longer even than any two hours of labor. It was the time I chaperoned the middle school dance. 

Just to prove how bad this dance was, the principal decided to cancel all dances from that point forward, so it wasn't just me who that it was bad. It was bad.

I'm no prude and with four kids and two step kids, I've done more than my fair share of chaperoning. How bad could it be? thought I. Two hours in a middle school gym — a little sweaty, a little loud, a little boring, but I could take it. I was a veteran. 

My little sixth grade twins had no idea what the whole dance thing was about. Like all the other sixth graders, the formed a circle around the periphery of the gymnasium, mostly running around and playing tag. 

The seventh graders formed another ring, inside the circle of sixth graders, but not at the center. Here the girls primped, gossiped, giggled and pointed. Totally expected behavior. The boys stood in awkward clumps, hands shoved deep in their pockets, standing on tiptoe to see the real action that was going on in the very center of the room.

The eighth graders closed ranks in tight knots that formed the nucleus of the three-ringed cell. They were the only ones "dancing", if you could call it that. A single girl stood, bent over at the waist, buttocks high in the air. She was surrounded by a group of between six and 10 boys, who took turns bumping and grinding into her from behind, simulating (quite graphically) a variety of sex acts. 

Again, I'm not a prude, but I was seriously shocked. These were 12 and 13 year old kids. I know that jitter bug was considered obscene in its day; my mother wasn't allowed to even listen to Elvis the Pelvis because of his lewd hip movements; and belly dancing, often considered an art, clearly has sexual overtones. But this was overtones, undertones and overt, in-your-face sex. And it was gross. I could understand what the boys liked about it, but I kept wanting to ask the girls "What are you thinking?"

The principal instructed chaperones to physically walk through the circles to break it up. At one point, he turned the lights up to full power to discourage the behavior. I spent two hours as a vice cop before the whistle blew signaling that it was time to go home. I never knew the shrill sound of a whistle could bring such relief. I grabbed my twins and headed home for a much-needed long, hot shower. 

Time: Oy, that was such an awful night. Wonder how I could use this in fiction. That dance was six years ago. Have shows like Dancing with the Stars changed school dance behavior? Would I have been as bothered if it had been a high school dance?

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