We usually dance a metre or so apart, my father
and I. He jigs
jags to the strains of "Eagle Rock
", getting the words all wrong, as I try to inch away surreptitiously without anyone noticing that I'm dancing
with my dad
. He does his patented "jackhammer
" move, working his legs into an awkward wide 'V', then making small jumping
movements to get his legs
back together again, just as I'm shaking my head
and looking away. He then
doesn't notice that the song has finished and keeps wailing a mangled
version of the lyrics
"Doin' the eagle rock... rock, rock, rock... rock...
until a new song
starts and he sits down, exhausted
, or grabs at a
to start a quick foot-trampling waltz
His enthusiasm is always partly induced by a large intake of alcohol-
weddings, parties, gatherings, nights out at the pub; anything is a good
reason to get pissed and have a good time. His eyes get bloodshot and
unfocussed, and his words blur
"eaglerocroc... doiiiiiiiin' theagle rock...
as his legs get wider. There are flailing arms, a bopping head- it's a shamozzle
. An ugly shamozzle
that I want to be as far away from as possible. I want
my name and erase all my features
which make me look like
"Is that your Dad, out there on the dance floor? Is
that supposed to be break dancing?"
"Are you crazy? I have no idea who you're talking about! I don't look like that
guy! Let's go get a drink!"
There have been a handful of times when we get along, and that I have been
happy to dance
, arm in arm
, with my dad. He spin
s me around, and we do a
, and disco
, and every dance ever known to man.
I've seen photos
of these times, and I look happy
. Sometimes even
. Proud and smiling and kind of dizzy from all that spinning.
And Dad sometimes seems startled in those pictures, as if he didn't know he could dance like this; with me, of all people. We used to be mortal enemies, and sometimes it seemed we would fight to the death. His temper would go
wild, and I would hate him so much that if I could kill him right there at
that moment I would. Those dances were ugly, dangerous and mean. But we got through it, and we have the photos to prove it: two similar faces, smiling shyly, our eyes crinkling with laughter
as we spin awkwardly around the floor.
"Ahh, look at those two. How sweet... he's so proud of her..."
I thought I'd grow out of the embarrassment
, that I would eventually
just say "Oh, Dad
!" and dance with him at those weddings and parties. But
sometimes still I can't stand his drunken shuffling
, and escape
from the dance floor. And on those times, if anyone asks; no
, he's not my dad. I don't know who that old guy
is. I'm going to the bar.