Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Horace Mann Shuffle

My son says that I have no rhythm. If I try to follow the beat of a song while I am driving a car, my finger tapping more resembles Morse code than something with any connection to the music. But once I get on a dance floor,  a magical transition takes place. Or so I thought.

It is known as the Horace Mann shuffle in my family. It is my signature move, the one that separates me from the rest of the sixty plus crowd. It is kind of like the hokey-pokey, where I stick one foot out, really to the side, and then return it to home base with perfect timing.  I know the crowd is watching and quietly applauding. I get it. I am used to the silent accolades,  understanding the audience is too shy to come to me with their kudos.

Last night we were at the wedding of my niece. She married a young man who happened to go to the same high school as I, the same college, is also an attorney, wears his heart on his sleeve like his new uncle in law, and does a very good imitation of the Horace Mann shuffle. You can draw your own conclusion.

During the course of the evening, I showed off my powers whenever and wherever I could. My cousins, my wife, even a chair served as appropriate props, mere background for the wonder of me.

Towards the end of the night, I spotted my daughter and soon began yet another version of the shuffle. This time my son and his phone were within close range.  A minute of two later I was staring at a screen with what appeared to be some maniac in the midst of a seizure. I was moving around without any seeming purpose or precision. A jump here, a lunge there. Fingers, arms, legs, torso, all doing their own thing, none in any seeming relation to one another, and certainly not having even a remote attachment to the music playing in the background. While my daughter was dancing in this very cool, very controlled manner, I was performing  something that appeared to be a violation of almost every law of nature.

How could I have been so wrong all these years? Why had no one stopped me before? I now understood that I was that person at all those occasions who people talked about afterwards. The one who you and I referred to with snickers, "did you see what that guy was doing?" Why hadn't I taken the persistent comments of my family as gospel, rather than mere signs of envy?

Hey, I blog. I blog alot. About everything. I love to make fun of myself and my myriad shortcomings. But even I have to draw the line somewhere. This was beyond embarrassing. This approached the level of a word that has not yet been created.

This is not to say that you have seen the last of the shuffle. It is an almost involuntary movement on my part. Once the music begins, as surely as the out of time finger tapping will occur, so will the foot begin its mysterious journey out to the side and then back. The fingers will point, the shoulders will shake, just a little. My wife will smile in the manufactured way in which all of us are compelled to at one point or another in our lives. And I will once more look around the room, just briefly, to see who is watching me perform my signature move. Long live the Horace Mann shuffle.


Anonymous said...

Luckily I've never witnessed it. (Could it be worse than Elaine on Seinfeld?) But I have often heard you sing in the car ... and that's enough. I'm equally horrific though, so maybe it was something in the Teaneck water supply in the 1950s and 60s. At least I've known my limitations all these years, while you apparently have lived with your head (feet) in the clouds.

But you do know how to write! And we all thank you for that.


Michael said...

It's a wonderful thing that we can laugh at ourselves and still continue to do what we do.

Pam said...

Since I have been on both the Bar Mitzvah circuit with you and now the wedding circuit.. I have witnessed The Horace Mann Shuffle many times and always enjoy it! Rock On!