I don’t know if I am intelligent, or if I’ve just learned the right questions to ask. In any case, I’m a generalist; knowing a little about a lot: a miscellany with large chunks missing from many subjects. As a result I tend to be arrogant; or perhaps I’m naturally arrogant and I co-opt knowledge as the excuse.

But God has His own ways of bringing me down to earth. I can think of many nasty ones, so I’m thankful He has, so far, used mild means.

Part of the swing dance culture is that, whenever someone has a birthday, they get a birthday dance: everyone forms a circle around the birthday gumby, and people take turns to dance with them; so you may dance in turns with a dozen people for the length of a song.

I began swing dancing in 2001 but I’ve never had a birthday dance: again I hoped (hope takes a lot of killing) this year would be different, and it was. When Adam (Adam Hall, front man for the Velvet Playboys) did the birthday shout-out to announce the dance, he called my name. The third of four. Normally – almost invariably – there is one person who is the focus of attention. Here was my first-time birthday dance, and I was to share it with three others.

A lesser man would have sucked on the irony. I am such a lesser man; however, I was also aware of what I could (and was meant to?) learn – I’m not so important that I should allow such a tiny disappointment be anything other than a tiny disappointment. It should not dominate me.

To most people this glimpse into my emotional life probably makes me appear overly sensitive; that if this is the biggest issue I have to deal with, my life is close to idyllic. We all have our emotional baggage, despite some people claiming the contrary.

Emotional baggage is a bent trigger within us, a previous experience that affects how we react to any particular circumstance. Just as baggage comes in different sizes, so such minor issues live alongside smaller ones; and we feel the piquancy of each, while we still can admit the comparative difference in significance. Perhaps I am overly sensitive; however, what issues do you have that others might consider minor, pathetic or even contemptible?

Back to the dance. As I said, usually there is only one couple in the circle. This time, there were three. I didn’t get into the centre, as it was already too crowded. I was too precious, you think? Partly I was sulking, but there also were too many people within the circle to make a good birthday dance. The purpose of the jam session (which a birthday dance is) is to show off your moves and style, and you can’t do that properly if there are other people in the circle.

But through the evening I did have several good dances. And a couple of girls did dance with me in honour of the occasion – bouquets to K.M. and H.T – and a couple of the key swing bods acknowledged me in a friendly way, so altogether I’m inclined to rate the evening reasonably high. I think you could dance to it.

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