You know what? It seems a bit unfair to write about all these embarrassing moments and not tell you the most embarrassing moment I’ve experienced. Well, one of the top two. This one took place years ago. We’re talking elementary school. Third grade. For some reason, someone had the great idea that young kids would like to square dance. With each other. That boys and girls would enjoy touching hands, picking partners, and dancing together. Maybe. Maybe this would work in junior high. High school, sure. But grade school? When everyone knows boys have cooties? Apparently, adults forget this. Thus, square dance came to our school for an entire week.
Now, for some reason two boys in my class began competing over who would ask me to be their partner. Days before the dancing started, they fussed over me. Sat next to me on the carpet. Stood next to me in line. They were sweet boys, but the attention mortified me. And looking back, I’m aware that this is what boys do. Compete. Less about who for. More about the satisfaction of winning.
The time was coming near. The day we picked our square dance partner. Each of these boys was persistent. She’s going to choose me. No. ME. Back and forth. And then, PE class started. The teacher announced it was time to pick our partners. And suddenly, there were boys. Surrounding me. The two in my class and more faces than I can remember. I stood, frozen. Not knowing what to do. What to say. Then, I heard my name over the speakers.
“Robin? Why don’t you come up here?” It was the PE teacher. Waving me up to her. My ears burned. My face, red. I made my way to her side, where she handed me the microphone. She then asked me the most horrible thing a nine-year-old introverted, shy girl could have been asked. “Why don’t you tell everyone who you’ve chosen as your partner?”
My heart flipped. I wanted to melt into the asphalt. Not only was I on display for having been rushed by a group of boys, but now I had to pick one? On my own? In front of everyone??? I could see the heads of the two guys in my class. All other faces were blurry. Flustered, I mumbled the name of another boy in my class. Someone unintimidating; someone quiet. “Philip.”
“Perfect!” the PE teacher said, taking the mic back. “Well, head on over to your partner, Robin, and we’ll start.”
After that, nothing mattered. Any chance of the experience being fun was ruined. Gone. Awkwardness reigned. At least I got a good story out of it.
If there was a moral to this story, it would be DO NOT MAKE GRADE SCHOOL KIDS SQUARE DANCE. JUST DON’T DO IT.
*Disclaimer: the dialogue might not be entirely accurate, as this was twenty-four years ago. I did my best.