We usually dance a metre or so apart, my father and I. He jigs and 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... rock..."

until a new song starts and he sits down, exhausted, or grabs at a stranger 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 to change my name and erase all my features which make me look like Dad.

"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 spins me around, and we do a crazy mish-mash of waltz, and disco, and every dance ever known to man. I've seen photos of these times, and I look happy. Sometimes even deliriously happy. 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.