“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” (Oscar Wilde)
I guess I’m becoming more modern; I’m learning to expect the unexpected. And certainly parts of IT, a single’s dance with a mom, were unexpected. After all, if you’d asked me even one year ago what the odds would be of me going to a singles dance, and with a MOTHER, I would have laughed in your face and guessed a billion to one! But then again, I would have laughed and denied that any part of my entire unexpected life would have been mine 20 months ago.
Imagine this (my) scenario: married 20 years, becoming unexpectedly single, moving to a new state to begin a new life, finding your biological mother via Facebook (THAT is a “friend” request you never forget!), discovering you live 20 minutes from each other, and that she is single, as well, after being married 35 years? And you both like to dance…
She is a beautiful, “game for anything” sort of gal with no shortage of men who want to spend time with her. In fact, handsome fifty-year-olds introduce themselves to her and ask her out in the grocery store. (We date men approximately the same age! How’s that for funny?) But as she lives alone in the mountains she needed a purely social experience, with no possibility of falling in love, an opportunity to simply dance, so the singles dance was a no brainer. After all, “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we should dance.”
So we did.
One part of the night was expected. We walked though the door to the dance and…she couldn’t breathe. She was shocked to be there; that a single’s dance was now her life. She said, “Andrea, what am I doing here? What was I thinking? I can’t believe this is me and my life.” (Where have we heard that before? She said almost the exact words I uttered when I went to my first singles dance a little over one year ago!) So I wasn’t surprised at her reaction. In fact, I expected it.
As she is a stunningly attractive and energetic woman who looks and acts much younger than her actual age, I expected the men at the dance to notice her, and they didn’t let me down! After the first one got his courage up to ask her to dance, it was a domino effect and actually quite comical to see three men, at the exact same time, make a beeline for her. It happened several times throughout the night.
Once they got her on the dance floor, they didn’t want to let her go. They’d dance with her for as long as they possibly could until someone cut in (I didn’t know men still did that these days!) or I got her away to meet someone new. To paraphrase an old song (that they probably played at the singles dance along with many other “oldies”), “Oh, what a night!”
But here is what I admired most about her and that night.
You meet a lot of interesting people at dances like that. As Bachelor #1 famously said, “There are a lot of broken hearts” at a singles dance. And sometimes, superficially, it’s evident why. Not every man that asks you to dance, and sometimes on some nights at some dances not ANY man who asks you to dance is your “dream man.” But you’d never have known it from watching her that night.
She was clearly the most beautiful woman at the dance, yet she was also the most gracious to every single man she met. Every single dance partner got the same big smile, friendly effort and fun dance partner, regardless of their age, race, attractiveness or dancing ability. No wonder the men loved her!
I couldn’t help but notice another attractive woman there that night as she danced. At one point, the woman was with a man that clearly didn’t appeal to her, she saw several others of a similar type heading her way as well, and she turned over her shoulder and called to her friends, “Does anyone want to take my place? I’m getting tired!” No one took her up on her offer. She didn’t appear to be interested in dancing or in her dance partners: she didn’t look at the men she danced with, she didn’t speak to them (didn’t even greet them) and it appeared she couldn’t wait to be free of them.
It was a great lesson for me. My parents taught me to never say no to a boy who asked me to dance, and to be kind to them while I danced with them. I hope I always lived up to their expectations (I know I did except for maybe one time, in the 80s, which I still feel a little bad about.) Watching my birth mom dance with anyone and everyone that night reminded me, again, of the importance of being gracious to everyone you meet.
It reminded me of a very important principle of life, even the unexpected one. My parents raised me to know that life isn’t all about me, it’s about other people, too. Having charity toward others, loving and serving others, and being a light in the world. And what a gift you give to others, to the world, if everyone you meet walks away from their experience with you better than they were before they met you–uplifted, inspired, happy, feeling better about themselves or their life for having rubbed shoulders, or danced, with you.
“Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them… he cried, ‘Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?’ God said, ‘I did do something. I made you.’” (Author Unknown)