On being ... a good dancer

By Ingrid Sapona

Gene Kelly was more my type than Fred Astaire, but I wouldn’t have turned down the chance to dance with either. Truthfully speaking, my all-time favourite dance scene is in White Christmas. It’s the one with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen dancing to “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”. Their syncopated tapping on the overturned boat and their graceful gliding down the pier is my idea of romantic.

Though Dancing with the Stars has brought ballroom dancing back into vogue, I’m pretty sure there aren’t too many guys out there sweeping women off their feet with their fancy footwork. It’s certainly never happened to me or my single girlfriends. But, a recent encounter I had with a guy at my sail club reminded me of how delightful it is to come across someone whose social graces are so refined you feel like you’re Ginger and you’d swear there’s an orchestra in the background.

I first met Alex (not his real name) last year. He had just joined the club and another member (I’ll call him Bill, but of course that’s not his real name either) roped him into being on a committee I’m on. From the start I had the feeling Bill, the big brother type, invited Alex on the committee to try to set us up.

Alex was cute, nice, and helpful. He didn’t talk much about his home life and I noticed he spent a fair bit of time on his boat. Whenever I saw him he was alone, but that’s not unusual at the club -- lots of wives and girlfriends don’t seem to enjoy sailing. We had fun on the committee but there really was no spark.

In fact, I had pretty much forgotten about him until I ran into him on a recent Friday afternoon at the club. We stopped to chat and he asked how my business is going. Work’s been weighing heavy on my mind lately and I ended up saying more than I usually do about my business frustrations. When I got into my car I was angry with myself for going on-and-on about my worries to a virtual stranger.

As I was driving out I passed him headed to his car and I rolled down the window to apologize because my response was probably way more information than was called for in answer to his innocent question. He laughed and reassured me that he truly was interested or he wouldn’t have asked and he told me not to worry about it.

As I drove home I was thinking about how sweet and genuine he seems, and how perfect he’d be for one of my single friends. I decided I really should try to introduce them. But first I had to figure out a way of finding out if he’s single.

By the time I got home I had an idea. I had been given two tickets to a talk featuring a well-known writer. Since I had an extra ticket and it was free, I decided to ask him to join me. I figured if we went to this event together I might have the opportunity to find out what his status is and if he’s interested in meeting my friend. I didn’t know exactly how I’d do that, but I figured during the course of the evening I’d think of some way – whether subtle or straightforward – of doing so.

As soon as I got home I sent him an e-mail. I intentionally kept it light and funny. I posed a series of questions I thought might be going through his mind as a result of receiving the e-mail and I included answers to each question. The first question was: “Does she have an ulterior motive?” Answer: “No.” Of course, I knew that wasn’t totally true. I did have an ulterior motive: trying to find out if he’d like to meet my friend. And of course, I realized he might think my motives were, shall we say, a bit more personal. But, figuring I had nothing to lose, I went ahead and sent it.

The following morning I got an e-mail in reply. His opening line was that he likes the way I write (he doesn’t know I make a living at it) and he likes my insight. Hmmm… What does that mean? I wondered. The next couple paragraphs he cleverly sashayed between saying yes and saying no. Reading it was like being spun about the dance floor.

Then, before I knew what was happening, he masterfully led me into the final, dramatic dip: a single, cleverly-phrased sentence in which he mentioned that, though he was free the evening of the event because his girlfriend had other plans, he really didn’t think he’d enjoy the lecture so he was declining the invitation.

Bravo! Gracefully done, I thought. The crucial information is revealed with no harm (though now I’m even more convinced he’d be perfect for my friend) and no hurt feelings. And, best of all, no need for awkwardness next time we run into each other.

Boy-oh-boy… sure makes me wish everyone was as good a dancer.

© 2010 Ingrid Sapona


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