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Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire A Fool, No Doubt, But Not A Dancin' Fool
(Edited excerpt from an e-mail to a friend)

Hey, Denise:

In the Nation/World section of yesterday's Indianapolis Star there was a short article that I'm including below. It's a follow-up to a story I sent you around the end of May. As I read this new news story, and just as I had done when I read the original story, I thought of you in one of your former incarnations: Dance instructor for Arthur Mohammad... er, I mean... uh, Arthur Murray. Hotcha!

And so now, m'Dear, FYI:

*****

Dancer found guilty of corrupting youths

Tehran, Iran -- Ruling that teaching traditional Iranian dance corrupts the nation's youths, a court banned an Iranian-American dancer from leaving Iran for 10 years and from giving dance classes for life, his lawyer said Monday.

Mohammad Khordadian, Iran's best-known male dancer, also was given a 10-year suspended jail term for promoting moral corruption by holding dance classes in the United States, according to the ruling, handed down Sunday. It also barred him from attending public celebrations or weddings of people who are not his relatives for three years, lawyer Abdolrahman Rasouli said.

The dancer was jailed in May as he was making his first visit to Iran in 20 years.

*****

Well, Denise, I've told you before that I can't dance, not a lick, don't ask me. I was not blessed with any physical grace. So I've avoided all situations in which some attempt at dancing in public might be expected of me. And lacking physical grace, I've had to rely on my social grace and country-boy charm to get me through. But, of course, I'm also basically lacking in social grace and charm. And so here I am now: A hermit named Dave.

My utter lack of physical grace aside, however, I've seldom experienced an undeniable urge, a motivating desire to ever try to dance. (Well, okay, yeah, there have been a few times when I was all alone and had a head full of Demon Rum and the music was so compelling that I just had to get up and move around the room. But now that I no longer drink, not even some hidden surveillance camera is ever gonna catch me tryin' t' cha-cha. And, well, okay, it's true that I haven't kicked my heroin habit yet, but hey, I never get the inexplicable urge to cut-a-rug after mainlining some smack, fer chrissake.)

[Editor's Note: Denise and I have known each other for, I don't know, 16 or 17 years now. I expect her to know that I'm being honest about alcohol consumption but joking about heroin abuse here, without question. But I realize that you, Dear Internet-Surfin' Reader, may not know me at all, may not know that I usually pass out from getting needle-stuck for blood tests and so, for that reason alone (as if I should need any other), shooting smack has absolutely no appeal to me. So, I just want to make it clear that I'm joking here. I do not now use, nor have I ever used, heroin. Nor do I endorse or encourage its abuse by others. So there. óBD]

Still, after reading the article about the Iranian dance teacher and thinking about you, Dear, as both a dancer and former dance instructor, I paused to remember that there is a song that can make me misty (with or without the influence of Demon Rum) and, at least momentarily, cause me to think that it just might be absolutely wonderful to know how to dance.

The following is from John Prine's "German Afternoons" album:

*****

I Just Wanna Dance With You
by John Prine and Roger Cook

I don't want to be the kind to hesitate
Be too shy
Wait too late
I don't care what they say other lovers do
I just want to dance with you

I got a feeling that you have a heart like mine
So let it show
Let it shine
If we have a chance to make one heart of two
Then I just want to dance with you

(Chorus)
I want to dance with you
Twirl you all around the floor
That's what they invented dancing for
I just want to dance with you
I want to dance with you
Hold you in my arms once more
That's what they invented dancing for
I just want to dance with you

I caught you lookin' at me when I looked at you
Yes, I did
Ain't that true?
You won't get embarrassed by the things I do
I just want to dance with you

Oh, the boys are playing softly
And the girls are too
So am I and so are you
If this is a movie
Then we're right on cue
I just want to dance with you

(Chorus)
I want to dance with you
Twirl you all around the floor
That's what they invented dancing for
I just want to dance with you
I want to dance with you
Hold you in my arms once more
That's what they invented dancing for
I just want to dance with you

*****

And, okay, another song that makes me think that being able to dance would be cool is Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek." Well, maybe not the complete song so much, but hearing Fred Astaire singing the first verse in my head makes both the art and romance of dance seem compelling.

*****

Heaven, I'm in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek

*****

Reading those lyrics again causes me to recall some hopefully-entertaining lies from some footnotes that I included in an e-mail that I wrote 5 years ago. (Who else would write an e-mail with a complete set of footnotes appended thereto? Jeez.) Following are the first 3 items excerpted from those notes:

*****

Footnotes:

[1] Don't worry, I'm not a stalker. Well, not anymore, not since I've been forced to wear this court-ordered, police-monitored, electronic tracking device strapped to my left ankle. Hey, it was all just a simple misunderstanding. Really.

[2] Again, no need for alarm, I don't make obscene phone calls. Well, not since I began smoking again. It became an embarrassment when my heavy breathing too soon gave way to a hacking cough. Rather than be frightened or repulsed, my victims on the other end of the line would often express pity and suggest various remedies for my respiratory condition. Besides, to be really effective with such phone calls, one has to call every day and call often. I would never dream of harassing you, the long-distance charges would kill me. And then there's the other court-ordered, police-monitored, electronic tracking device that's strapped to my right ankle. Another honest misunderstanding. Believe me.

[3] There's an upside to wearing all this electronic hardware. I found out, quite by accident, that if I soak my pant legs from the knees on down with natural spring water from Arkansas, place a Mr. Microphone in front of the loudspeakers, and play 1930's pop tunes by George and Ira Gershwin or Irving Berlin on the stereo, I can ballroom dance just like Fred Astaire AND Ginger Rogers! Both parts at the same time! It's an incredible sight! And it's all the more amazing since, under any other circumstances, I can't dance a lick. If you watched TV more, you probably would have caught my performance at least once. 60 Minutes did a segment on me last April. CNN aired a video clip several times during the last weekend in February. The Discovery Channel featured me in a 2-hour special that has aired several times. And The Family Channel,... Well, their producer stopped tape and had me escorted out and forcefully ejected from the studio less than a minute into the session. All I had said was, "First, I'm going to wet myself." See, another misunderstanding.

[Excerpt from 1st e-mail to Buffy Anne, June 1997]

[Editor's Note: Okay, okay, I'll admit my inconsistencies here. I had only known Buff for a month when I wrote the preceding stuff, but still I expected her to know that I was joking. So again, just in case you didn't catch on, Dear Internet-Surfin' Reader, I want to assure you that I was only kidding. Really. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a stalker. I don't make, nor have I ever made, obscene phone calls. I have never been in trouble with the law. And I still can't dance, regardless of any alleged coincidental and miraculous convergence of natural elements, electronic technology, music, and me. Jeez.]

*****

After re-reading these footnotes, I'm reminded that I've since quit smoking too. Jeez. No drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no... (Well, that's none of your business.) But it's like I've at least partially reverted back to my puritanical Christian Fundamentalist programming by default. Jeez. But hey, at least I can still tell a big (hopefully-entertaining) lie from time to time. Jeez.

Since I have given up cigarettes, perhaps I'll once again be able to make effective obscene phone calls. But no, I should be mindful of the wages of sin. Following is an excerpt from still another e-mail from 5 years ago, a follow-up to the footnoted nonsense above:

*****

I don't wanna end up facing any new harassment or stalking charges, and still another restraining order, and maybe even another court-ordered, police-monitored, electronic tracking device affixed to my person. (Hey, I'm running out of appendages on which to clamp such things! [DON'T EVEN THINK IT!] Besides, both the media and I have grown tired of the ballroom dance thing. They've long since moved on to other stories. And the transmitters on my ankles are seriously chafing my skin. And I've discovered that I have some kinda slime mold growing inside the pantlegs of most of my slacks, from the knees on down, from the knees on down. Guess it's the natural spring water from Arkansas. [And, I guess, that might explain why Bill Clinton often has been caught with his pants down: Itchy legs due to slime mold infestation, no doubt.] [Jeez, I'm really sorry I made that connection! Now I'll probably end up as just another innocent and expendable pawn involved in some Senate subcommittee investigation, or Justice Department inquiry, or FBI sting, or Whatever!])

[Excerpt from an e-mail to Buffy Anne, September 1997]

*****

Jeez.

Be well, Denise m'Dear, be happy. Know peace, know love. Find joy wherever it awaits you. Live in light, live in bliss. Bless your heart.

Later, Brother "A fool, no doubt, but not a dancin' fool" Dave

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