May I Have This Dance

Every morning, for at least the past six weeks, a cheerful little robin perches on the high wire above our back alley and sings its little heart out.  This tiny harbinger of spring puts everyone in the mood for summer.  A friend who knows about birds told me why they sing so hard, and why you don’t hear them in the month of August.  The male robins go through puberty every spring of their four year life, and sing to attract females. 

I swear that its the same robin up there every single day.  He puffs out his fluffy red breast, tilts his little head and starts to whistle.  He’s been doing this for so long, I’m becoming a little anxious.  My husband, and at least one of my sisters,  would say (with a certain amount of eye rolling) that not everything is about me.  Somehow, this feels like it is.  Here’s why.  The plucky little robin who tugs on my heartstrings every morning is bringing back bad memories of my first junior high school dance. 

I know I’m not the only one who shudders a little when they recall this particular ordeal.  And it’s true that I had girl friends to dance with.  But every boy that did NOT cross the floor, tap me on the shoulder and invite me to dance? Well.  It felt like the whole gang of them was sending me a message.  In my crazed and pubescent brain, the lack of invites meant there must be something seriously wrong with me. 

Maybe it was my clothes, a real possibility when I remember the new striped tee shirt and matching green cotton pants from our local Robinsons store.  It might have been my hair style, which resembled that of a prison camp inmate, thanks to the local barber.  Perhaps it was my shy manner, my way of literally running from the room if a boy I didn’t know walked toward me.  Mostly, though, deep, deep down in the depths of my twelve year old heart, I knew that it was my complete and utter lack of coolness.  I was every awkward, clueless girl you’ve ever met  A Jethro Bodene in a vaguely female form, but with less self confidence and enthusiasm.  Even while married to the man who loves me, I still carry the sneaking suspicion that the first time he asked me out, it was motivated by a mixture of pity and arm twisting by my girlfriends.  He reassures me that its not so, but any man will say the right thing when its two in the morning and he wants to get some sleep. 

It’s my tender heart that takes me out to the deck each morning to holler at the female robins.   To ask them to give this guy a chance, for God’s sake  Because, underneath that tiny bird brain, cheerful song and fluffy breast lies a wonderful personality.  But its also that small, awkward, insecure girl hiding in the corner of my amygdala, who knows that puberty is hard enough the first time.  That first dance is agony for almost everybody.  Now imagine if you had to stand there and whistle. 

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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