So on Friday night, I went to a Slow Dance. It was organized by my new Facebook friend named Sherwin Sullivan Tjia, also known as Joe Catman. Sherwin slash Mr. Catman is a charming and exuberant fellow who devotes his life to organizing quirky events such as slow dances, cat video nights and strip spelling bees. He also writes books, including the interactive “You Are a Cat,” in which readers get to choose their own adventures from the point of view of a feline character. Sherwin’s versatile and fascinating endeavours offer many exciting options for everyone, including those who have recently taken a hiatus from time-consuming yoga cults and are looking to fill the void. As such, I had noble intentions to attend last Wednesday’s Strip Spelling Bee; however, I ended up opting out due to menstruation. Also, I felt as though my current underwear situation was rather unspectacular. Both mediocre and self-absorbed reasons. I will try and do better next time. I happen to be an excellent speller.
Despite being considerably less excellent at dancing, Friday night’s Slow Dance ended up being my very first Sherwin Event. I even volunteered to be a Designated Dancer. As a Designated Dancer, I wore a glowing item over my heart and committed myself to pulling wallflowers off the wall. Sherwin compares the glowing brooch of a designated dancer to a “warm taxi light in the middle of a blizzard.” I must say, Sherwin was an inspiring coach. He urged us to “dance with the ugly and the sad-looking. Dance with those who have a heavy, heart-worn energy, who look like the last place they want to be is there.” It is the “duty and peculiar joy of being a dd” to “dance the road less travelled.” I really liked my glowing brooch.
|Me and My Glowing Brooch|
One of the reasons I became a DD was so I wouldn’t become a wallflower myself. My high school dance memories that are not blurred by Mike’s Hard Lemonade are relatively traumatic. Actually, the Mike’s Hard Lemonade memories are also relatively traumatic:The song is "Kiss Me," by Six Pence None the Richer. I am thirteen, younger than you are supposed to be in grade nine, and drunker than you are supposed to be at thirteen. This is all Mrs. Vanden Bosch’s fault. She gave me Gifted Child Syndrome in grade one. It is also sort of my sister’s fault, because she smuggled the alcohol into the student’s council room. She was the president. Anyways, a few slow dances ago, some nice tall boy named Matthew from grade eleven asked me to slow dance. Probably the song was "Iris," by the GooGoo dolls. “I’d give up forever to touch you.” I must have really enjoyed myself because when the chorus to “Kiss me” comes on I stand in front of Matthew. As I sing along, I start kissing the air. I suppose this isn’t that embarrassing. Life would become much worse.
When I pictured an adult slow dance, I imagined that we would all stand around hugging each other the whole time. As it turned out, many of the people who were drawn to my glowing brooch had some rather complicated dance moves up their sleeves. Some people seemed deeply committed to these moves.“These are contemporary moves,” one gentleman informed me. Beads of sweat slid down his glasses. His fancy white shirt, now transparent, was peeled to his skin. You could tell he’d been enthusiastically practicing his contemporary dance moves all evening. He spun me around at a dizzying pace. I did my best to keep up; however, I’m afraid that I am much better versed in the less structured form of Ecstatic Dance and the low-skilled form of standing around and hugging. Oh well. I hope that no one felt as though my glowing brooch was false advertising.
At midnight, we were allowed to take our glowing brooches off our hearts and become undesignated dancers. Right away, the awkward high school moments increased. Without my glowing brooch, the dance floor was no longer a straightforward and mechanical task. While the glow had enabled me to pose as one of the cool people, now I was back to being thirteen, with no contemporary dance moves, or Mike’s Hard Lemonade.“The glow brooch gave me a structure,” I told him. “I love structure. That’s why I’m a good caregiver.”
“What does asking people to dance have to do with taking care of people with intellectual disabilities?” He didn’t get it and I couldn’t explain.Back on the dance floor, Sherwin was playing “Hero,” by Enrique Iglesias. I danced with some dude wearing a hat. He was pretty cute, if perhaps a bit drunk. As he buried his face in my neck, I couldn’t tell if he was kissing me or not. Around us lots of other people were making out. It looked like they were having a wonderful time. I hadn’t kissed anyone in a while.
“You. Can. Take. My Breath Away,” sang Enrique. “I. Can. Be. Your Hero.” And the song was over. The guy in the hat lifted his face out of my neck. I turned my face and we ended up kissing on the lips.“Honestly, I meant to kiss you on the cheek,” he said. Right. I wasn’t exactly feeling it, but I went along with a couple more kisses for the hell of it. The next song was “I’ll Be,” by Edwin McCain.
“Do you want to dance again?” asked the Man in the Hat. “I do.” Again, what the hell. Except that within about thirty seconds I felt the insatiable urge to go hide in the bathroom.“Need some air,” I said. “Thanks. Bye.” Smooth. I’ll be better when I’m older.
After hiding in the bathroom for a while, I went to visit Sherwin. Right beside him, there was a big black curtain I could hide behind. It was perfect. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed at a slow dance, I highly recommend going to visit Sherwin. His presence is nothing but soothing and consoling. By the way, he had great hair and was wearing a gorgeous black flouncy frilly dress. A total knockout. I asked Sherwin about how he came to organize mass slow dances and other quirky events. “Well,” he said. “I really love slow dancing, and when I love something, I want to do it a whole bunch.” Simple as that. And now there were masses of people dancing and/or clutching each other to the tune of “Wrecking Ball,” by Miley Cyrus.Sherwin and I had some lovely chats about drinking, kissing, dancing, and dating people from the Maritimes. The last official song of the evening was “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by B. Tyler. I wasn’t sure about how and when I should make my exit. Thankfully, Sherwin told me about this trendy and somewhat new thing called Ghosting. It means that you rapidly leave a party or an event without saying goodbye. I gave it a try and it was quite a success.
On my way home, I picked smarties out of a bag of trail mix. As I walked down St. Laurent Street at 2 a.m., I considered how my life has changed.
|You Are a Cat!|
A Pick-a-Plot series by Sherwin Tjia
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