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Expensive Dancing Specks
by Charles W. Dowdy

We are not cutting it as parents. That was clear to me as I tried to distinguish which little dancing speck belonged to me.

The father across the aisle had his video camera on, despite all the signs that said, "No video cameras!" I'd told my wife I was bringing mine, but she said all the parents had been told that cameras of any kind were strictly forbidden. Strictly forbidden at a dance recital? Like some tu-tu wearing Dance Recital Police were going to descend on us. Now that cheater of a dad, which could have been me, could zoom in and see the stage just fine while I was about to blow out a cornea trying to see my little girl do her routine.

It was my wife's fault we were sitting so far away from the stage. She'd left the house two hours early to save us seats at the auditorium. Two hours early and the best she could come up with was row MM?

Oh, I knew what happened. Like my wife really went straight to the auditorium. She pulled the car through the drive, pushed our daughter out while the car was still rolling, then roared off to drive some lonely country road, listening to cheesy eighties music, and having some of her precious "alone" time. She probably showed up for the recital just a few minutes earlier than I did, relegating us to these cheap seats right by the camera felon.

Everybody around us was in a pretty foul mood, too. I think it might have had something to do with my grandmother, who was sitting with us. She's not the most discreet person when it comes to whispering. The noise from a 747 at takeoff doesn't carry as well as her whisper. And she can be pretty brutal with her observations. "That one on the left has no rhythm." "Those costumes look like they were bought at a garage sale." "Are they dancing or imitating the mating dance of the California Condor?" (She's downright dangerous at a little league baseball game.)

Since my grandmother was passing those judgments about every twenty seconds the odds were that somebody's parents were sitting near enough to hear her say something about their kid.

I tried my best to divert the conversation, an attempt my wife shot down. I thought the origin of the tu-tu was a perfectly reasonable conversation piece for those people sitting around us. Think about it, what is that thing really supposed to do?

And what was she giving me a hard time for? I was the one who should have been mad. Lousy seats meant that it was hard to see the fun stuff like the routine where the little girls were standing on boxes and were dressed like wind-up soldiers. All the other little girls did their mechanical looking dance but the one on the end just stared at her mother in the audience and shook her head. Then her mother would gesture and try to get the kid to participate. I thought it showed a nice streak of individuality each time the little girl yelled, "No, Mama!"

I should also have been mad about the money. Dancing is second only to college in expenses that must be shouldered by the parents of girls. The lessons are the least of your worries. There are outfits, and as your girl ages she needs more outfits. There are shoes. Actually, we lost our shoes right before the recital so we had to buy another pair. My wife justified it with some nonsense about how much our daughter's feet had grown, how since the beginning of the dance season she had gone from a size 9 to a 12. Like she couldn't have wedged her feet in those slippers one more time. Or we couldn't have cut out the toes and painted her hose the same color as the slippers. Both reasonable options in my mind, but since we could not locate the slippers we had to go buy new ones.

Still, my anger melted when my daughter danced onto the stage. She was far and away the most talented of her group. Anyone could see that but I pointed it out to those around us anyway. And my grandmother was wrong; that girl next to my daughter was two beats off.

I could not believe I did not sneak in my video camera.

Now we'll have to buy the official version of the dance recital, making one last offering at the Church of Dancing before we get the summer off.

Maybe the guy across the aisle would be interested in selling a bootleg copy.


Charles Dowdy is the father of four and the husband of one. Editors may contact him at cwdowdyjr@yahoo.com.

Charles Dowdy's web site is not to be missed! He has to be one of the funniest, most irreverent writers in the South . . . or anywhere. Go see!

For more stories by Charles Dowdy, visit these USADS pages:

The Family Opinion Statement
Hair plucking and Gandhi
Goodby, Debt; Hello, Ricecakes
The Waiting Room War Zone
Small Towns and The 3 Second Intersection Rule
President Bush, Sponge Bob, and a Banana
The Twins Journal
Teeball Dad
Whatcha Doin'?
Amending the Neighborhood Constitution
Pregnant Dad
Double Trouble: Cross-eyed Twins
An open letter to my wolf
The Chattanooga North Pole
This column really stinks
Cub Scouts and a bad Tenderfoot


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