50: Slow Dance of Love

50: Slow Dance of Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

Slow Dance of Love

I got started dancing because
I knew it was one way to meet girls.

~Gene Kelly

The first day of sixth grade was a real turning point for me—I fell in love. Who would have thought that a brown-haired, mushroom-cut boy with dark brown eyes would catch my attention? I leaned over to my friend Karen and asked her about him.

“Who is that boy, the one with the brown hair and green shirt?”

“Umm, that’s Jon Eanes.”

“Oh really?” I asked. “Jon. He’s so cute!”

“No, no!” She cried. “I saw him pick his nose and eat it a few times in fourth grade. We call him ‘Jon the nose-picker Eanes’ or just nose-picker for short.” I giggled a bit with Karen over his name, but his history didn’t faze me. I couldn’t stop looking at him. I remember saying to myself, “One day, Jon, you will be mine.”

From that day on, my crush sat with me for nearly every class. I flirted with him constantly and even passed notes. My teacher knew about my infatuation, and often joked about it in class. Jon didn’t notice these things. One day, Jon wrote on his binder and passed it to me. There, in light pencil, were the words, “I like you.” I jumped in my skin and smiled, not knowing what to say or do. I didn’t reply for a while; all I could do was smile. Then I somehow found the guts—not to pour my heart out—but to say “I know” in response.

The girls were so proud of me as soon as I told them. We were all giddy that day, and Karen introduced a new assignment for me.

“You should tell him to go to the dance.” She was talking about the YMCA Teen Center dance held every Friday night.

“I don’t think he goes to our dances.” I said.

“I know, but you should ask him to the dance.”

“But....” It was a losing battle.

“Jen, come on! If he goes to the dance, then he will have to hang out with you and maybe even dance with you.”

“No way!” This hadn’t occurred to me. “Really? You think I should?”

“Yea! If he likes you, he will go to the dance.”

These dances were a big deal. Every week I would dress in my cutest outfit, pile on make-up, and have my dad drive me to the Teen Center. I somehow gathered the guts to ask Jon to meet me there for the dance, but I was deflated when he resisted. “I don’t go to those things,” he said.

Karen had the brilliant idea to talk to one of Jon’s friends to get him to go, and it worked. The night of the dance, I was so nervous. What if he didn’t come? What if he said “forget it” when his father drove him up to the curb? I worried frantically, and when I saw him standing in line, I panicked. It was a good thing my friends were there to get me dancing and de-stressed.

Toward the end of the night, my friends repeatedly tried to get Jon and me to dance. They played many slow songs, but I would stand against the wall and talk to my friends during them. When the last song of the night was minutes from playing, I deflated again. “I guess he doesn’t want to dance with me,” I thought. My friends came running over to me and begged me to come with them. I shrugged and followed. Then, in the corner of the gym, Karen aggressively pushed Jon towards me. He was smiling and panicking, and I was so embarrassed. Karen urged, “Just dance with her! I know you want to!”

My friends backed away. I looked at him and shrugged. He nervously came up to me, and asked if I wanted to dance. The last song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” by Aerosmith played, and I sighed. Saying yes to his request, I got close to him and put my arms on his shoulders. He was so nervous, he put his hands up on my shoulders too! I was so surprised that he didn’t know what to do, and afraid my friends would make fun of him, I whispered, “Um, your hands go on my waist. Quick!” He recovered, and we both laughed when I said that this would be the talk of the school come Monday.

We danced slowly, our bodies stiff, and my world disappeared into a black mist. We were so awkward, just a couple of eleven-year-olds with a crush. When the song ended, I ignored my friends and said goodbye to him. He asked me to go bowling with him the following weekend. I couldn’t breathe, knowing that the boy I liked, liked me back, and had just asked me out on a date. If the world had blown up just then, I wouldn’t have minded, knowing that I had this moment to remember.

On Monday it was the talk of the whole sixth grade. Even my history teacher sighed with relief upon hearing the news. I think it was because he was sick of seeing us flirt in class.

This is a small adventure compared to the rest of my teen years, but that’s just it—a small, yet memorable event. Jon and I still laugh about the moment years later in high school, talking about the “old days.” Even though we’re older and wiser now, and we each tell our own version of our relationship, I like to remind him that after watching couples dance all night, he still managed to mess it up. Yes, Jon, although you deny it now, you still put your hands on my shoulders during our first dance in the sixth grade.

~Jennifer Chase

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