You know what’s wonderful? When you go to a Lindy Exchange (like, say, PittStop 7) where absolutely no one knows you from Eve. You see a guy dancing, and whatever he’s doing looks good enough that you decide to ask him to dance. So you do, and he says yes, cuz, you know, he’s a nice guy. Only he says it politely, not enthusiastically, and as he starts dancing you can tell he’s not expecting great things from this. But you know better. When the opportunity presents itself you do something unexpected and cool, or maybe he feels the connection and starts to suspect that you’re more of a dancer than he realized. His face sorta… wakes up. He leads something really neat, and you follow it perfectly. Then you throw a little something in or he leads something else, and it goes really well. And that’s how the dance goes. It’s a darn good dance, but the best part, the part that’s utterly wonderful is when the dance is done (ending with some kind of big finish or a dip that you didn’t know you could do), he sticks his hand out, looks eagerly into your face and says, “What was your name again? Where do you dance?”
I had so many dances like that this weekend. Sigh. It makes me all happy just thinking about it.
I had some rather lovely Bal dances too. One of my goals for this Exchange was to kindof see where I was with that. I’ve been working on Balboa more the last nine months or so, and while I know I’ve improved a lot, I didn’t really know what that meant in real terms. I wanted to see if I could hold my own with guys I don’t dance with every week. Friday night I got to talking with one of the event organizers, who pointed out who she thought was the best Bal lead in Pittsburgh, a transplant from Montreal (and you know those Canadian boys…). I watched my chance, and finally snagged him at the Saturday afternoon dance. And you know what? I’m not bad. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m really not bad at all. He, of course, was phenomenal. I’d go to PittStop next year just to dance with him again. Really.
The icing on the cake, however, was getting to see JohnJohn. He and I were on the same traveling youth ministry (NET) team some years back. We criss-crossed the country together in a thirteen passenger van along with nine other random Catholic young adults (and, yes, we were very random). In the process we saw each other at our absolute best and absolute worst – and became something like each other’s family. He’s getting his doctorate at Duquesne, and just got engaged to an absolutely wonderful girl. I was delighted when I heard about his engagement cuz, well, it’s JohnJohn, who deserves to be happy in every way, but I didn’t know anything about who he was engaged to. It turns out that she’s really great – smart and funny, the kind of girl who I could probably be good friends with if we were in the same city. It makes me hope that JohnJohn and I end up on the same university faculty one day, not just because it would be so wonderful to work with him, but because then I could really be friends with his wife-to-be.
And while I’m on the subject of NET, here’s something I think is very funny. While on NET, we had very strict guidelines for interactions with the young people we were ministering to, including precise direction on when or how it was ok to touch any young person (mostly either short hugs or a hand on their shoulder while you were praying for them). This weekend I was doing Balboa (a dance in which you feel the lead by pressing your chest against your partner’s) with a young man from, I think, Case Western. We were talking while we danced, and I asked him where he was from. He said he was originally from a very small town in southern Minnesota that I’d never heard of. One of the places my team had visited was the Diocese of Winona, which is a thick strip across the lower half of Minnesota, so I told him to try me. Turns out that this young man, against whose chest I was pressed, was from a town in which I had done a retreat, and he’d been on a NET retreat when he was in high school. I didn’t ask any more details to figure out whether my team had done his retreat. I didn’t want to know