Happy people seem to dance quite often. Likewise, people who are dancing seem to always be happy.
Did you ever see anyone that looks sad while they are dancing? I mean, anyone except Morrissey and Robert Smith from The Cure.
I’m not a fan of dancing. Actually, I shouldn’t say that, as I do like to watch people who do it well. The cringing that I do at the mere mention of the word dancing lies in the fact that I’m downright dreadful at it. Perhaps as a direct result, most of my critics think that I’m a miserable bastard.
Again, it’s not that I dislike dancing, I just rarely find myself in a place where I can put on my best dance moves and feel uninhibited or at the very least, that my dancing is better than Elaine’s from that “Seinfeld” episode. I can ballroom dance, I can tango, and I can even polka pretty well thanks to my late great grandmother, but other than that, I’m pretty much a “head groover” that occasionally throws out the token white guy “box step.”
(Author’s note: The box step, for those that don’t know, is essentially standing idle and taking one step to the left, and back to the center. Then to the right, and back, then to the left, and then to change it up, you step forward and back. Throw the occasional shoulder dip and choose between a handclap or finger-snap on the downbeats and you’re boxstepping baby. There are obvious intermediate levels of boxstepping, but all come back to the basic footwork, as with any dance move.)
At any rate, dancing is one of those things that everyone does in all cultures. If you win the lottery, you dance, if a Prince song comes on at the bar, you are required to dance; If third-world villagers want it to rain badly enough, they dance, and if you catch a three-yard slant route to score a touchdown, you dance as well.
Dancing is not just one of those things that thespians like Fred Astaire do when they see some primo puddles to stomp in while they sing a catchy tune in the 2nd act, or what Patrick Swayze does when someone backs baby in a corner.
If you think about it, dancing is probably the most ridiculous looking thing that we humans do and we are totally okay with it because it makes us feel good.
For an example of this, turn the sound down and tune into the Resort Video Guide on Channel 10 on your Comcast dial, and watch any of the ancient commercials for any restaurant in town. If you are ever feeling down and you want to feel better about yourself, watch the end of the Steer Inn Tavern commercial and focus on the lady dancing in the front row by the band.
Just like you must dance when a Prince song comes on, you must laugh when you see this clip. It is a delight. As sadistic as I may be for making fun of it, the truth is that even on those commercials, she’s having fun and when it comes down to it, that’s all that really matters.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” — author unknown
This whole dancing theme has been a façade of sorts to lead you into the topic that is truly on my mind this week. At the news that a friend of the column had been found dead in his Ocean City home this week, I am left counting the increasing number of locals who are well known and beloved in this community that we bury every winter.
It seems like every winter, the small community of Ocean City heads to at least three funerals of seemingly happy-go-lucky locals that we all got to know over the years and remember to be driven, successful and rarely without a smile on their face. It’s never the people that are disgruntled all the time or the people that seem to have the toughest lives. It always seems like the people with the sincerest of hearts, the ones that are the most loyal to those closest to them, and unfortunately (only in hindsight), are the ones that never want you to know that they are feeling down.
This place is a service-oriented quagmire. Take care of the customer first. Make other people happy. Help others enjoy their vacation. Meet last year’s numbers. Have a drink and keep on going seems to be the motto that we live by around here, and when bad things happen, we rarely stop to truly talk about what’s going on or what has happened.
It’s hard and tragic, and one of the things that makes me the most upset about living here.
We never stop and think what this lifestyle in the bubble is doing to us mentally and physically.
We spend so much time thinking about what other people need or the jobs that we must do that we forget to spend a little time dealing with ourselves or to talk to someone about the things that are overwhelming us. There are enough bartenders in this town that listen to shifts’ worth of feeble complaining from the affluent, but when was the last time you truly asked a bartender how they were doing?
The answer is simple. You don’t want to know. Nobody wants a weepy bartender, just like nobody wants a happy go lucky sparkplug to get down on their luck, because we can’t handle or we are too selfish to try to comprehend what’s going on beneath the surface of someone’s inner being.
It’s tragic and sad and I’m heartbroken that a community as small and tight knit as this one claims to be, in a setting that looks like paradise, continues to bury its brethren who maybe just needed someone to talk to or someone to dance with.
In light of what happened this week, I don’t feel like dancing, even more so than usual.
Author’s note: This column is dedicated to Mike Baylis.
Though he and I agreed on few things wholeheartedly, the love of music and the love of family was one that was shared vehemently. I will always fondly recall conversations with Mike Baylis about music, and may never hear Ray Charles in the same light again. He was always incredibly kind to my wife and son and had one of the most boisterous laughs that I’ve ever heard. Ironically, while writing this column, I recalled a conversation where we argued for a good hour on what was more ridiculous: Mick Jagger’s flood pants or David Bowie’s overcoat in the “Dancing in the Street” video.
Hence, the dancing analogy.
R.I.P. Michael, you will be missed.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.