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Saturday, 1 May 2010

A shining button on the waistcoat of the world.

Years ago I used to to be very fond of ballroom dancing and went regularly to dances. One of the men I sometimes danced with was Malcolm. Malcolm liked to go to dances for the friendly company and a relaxing evening, but no one could accuse him of being a good dancer...(o: Once when we were dancing, I pointed out that we were not doing the right steps. - It's a waltz, I told him, not a slow foxtrot, but he explained that he always did the same steps, whatever the dance rhythm: they were the steps he was used to and had served him well, over many years...(o:

It seemed such a waste to me, to spend years of your life doing the same steps - doing the same wrong steps most of the time - when you could get informed about the right steps and start doing them instead, and enjoy your life so much more. With Ibsen's Peer Gynt in mind I teased him and said, "Malcolm, you were meant to be a shining button on the waistcoat of the world, and you are failing in that." (I can be pretty insufferable sometimes!)

I told him about a dancing school where he could go to learn the basic steps of the usual ballroom dances and urged him to take some lessons. He said he would. When I next saw him I enquired if he had been to the dancing school yet and he told me that yes, he had, and so I asked him how he had got on with the dance lessons. He said he hadn't actually taken any lessons. "I parked the car in the car park," he said, "and walked down the steps to the dance school, heard the music, opened the door and had a look inside. And then I thought I wouldn't bother; I'd just go home and carry on as usual!"

Poor Malcolm. A nice, kind person but not brave enough to try doing something he hadn't done before, and missing out on new and better experiences. I wonder if the Button Maker has ladled him into his amorphous pot yet, to be melted and re-moulded?

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