Keepin' On

"I figure I can either quit, or keep on going. I choose Keepin' On."

and — 5, 6, 7, 8 …

I am not embarrassed to tell you that I own a pair of tap dancing shoes. Well, okay, I am a little embarrassed to tell you that. The shoes are stashed away in a box up on a top shelf. They are not leftovers from my childhood, traumatically forced on me by my mother. I bought them about eighteen years ago. I told myself it could be good exercise, and I hate to exercise so I thought I would try something fun. There is another reason, but I will get to that later.

I purchased the tap shoes at a dance supply store assisted by a young woman dressed in dancer-type clothing. Her outfit included the oddly-named but essential “leg warmers” which are worn bunched around the ankle and so would have nothing whatever to do with warming the leg unless they (the warmers, not the legs) were on fire. I am sure that she secretly wondered what the heck I was doing there; I know I did.

In response to, “Can I help you?” I answered that I was going to learn to tap and needed help picking out shoes. In the Little Universe Inside My Head, she beamed, gushed that it was wonderful that I was learning to tap, and took me in hand to usher in me into the magical world of dance. In the real universe, she just said, “What size?” “Size nine – extra loud!” I smiled. Nothing.

Undeterred, I left with my size nines in hand and headed out for my first lesson resolved to fulfill a childhood dream (this is the other reason). My father’s love of movies fell into two main categories: John Wayne and musicals. I loved my father and wanted to impress him. I knew I could never match up to the Duke (who could?), but tap dancing – how hard could it be? I once asked my parents to sign me up, but for some reason they refused. Maybe they realized that dance lessons would put me way over the line into nerdville, a line I teetered on most of the time anyway. There probably was some kind of weird reverse trauma in their refusal to let me take lessons, but I cannot figure it out for the life of me.

So there I was many years later lacing up my shoes and stepping out onto a dance floor. Do you remember elephant jokes? One was, “Why do elephants have flat feet?” Answer: “To stamp out flaming ducks.” That image should give you some idea of what I looked like. The young woman who patiently attempted to show the basics of tap to me was wonderful and demonstrated great restraint in not laughing her tutu off.   And, after six grueling lessons, I learned to flap, shuffle, ball-change and do a barely recognizable time step.

I like to think Dad would be proud. I know I am, even though I am a little embarrassed about the whole thing. But, I went for it. Those shoes might look strangely out of place up on that shelf, but they remind me of the time I took an old dream out into the sunlight and ran it around the block.

Your Keepin’ On Tip for the Day:

Make an old dream happen and feel young again

About Jim Thomson

Husband, father, grandfather, counselor, and writer.

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