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CATTLE TODAY

DANCING WITH THE SQUARES

by: Lee Pitts

Have you seen these dance shows proliferating on TV these days? They feature washed up celebrities behaving as if someone put chili powder in their girdles. There are two reasons you won't see me on any of these shows: my left and my right feet. I am living proof that white men can't dance. Although some people say I have mastered the Jerk, I never did learn the Frug, Tango, Mashed Potato, Watusi, Polka, Twist, Disco, or how to spin on top my head. And today's dances look too much like calisthenics to interest me. Besides, I usually exercise more discretion than to dance to today's beat.

As a result of my lack of dancing skills the “minuet” the music starts this dance-dunce tries to hide in the corner. Or, I try to cha cha cha out the door without being noticed. Most people who have seen me in action seem really grateful for my disappearing act. In the rare instances when I did get caught and had to dance I've had people tell me they actually got seasick watching me. One observer was so impressed he inquired as to what brand of wooden underwear I buy. But the reason I have all the dance moves of an arthritic turtle is that I've never had any lessons. The only instruction I've ever had in close-contact sports is wrestling and, consequently, one jealous husband wanted to punch my lights out for the holds I put on his wife.

The reason it looks like I'm wearing a shirt full of fleas and someone just hit me with a cattle prod when I dance is because I have no familiarity with the art form. I've never attended a prom, I've never seen a topless dancer in action and I have no idea what a lap dance is. Although I have seen a 450 pound belly dancer do her thing and I can't get that grotesque image out of my mind!

Having said all that, I must say that I really admire people who can dance and, amazingly, many of the best dancers I've ever seen are cowboys and ranchers. This seems like such a contradiction to me: big, rough and tough ranchers engaged in what some people perceive as a sissified pursuit. In truth, I think it takes a very macho man to be a good dancer and maybe that's my problem. Or perhaps it's genetic. Some people say that dancing is in their blood, but if that's the case I must have very poor circulation. It also doesn't help that I am as light on my feet as a draft horse.

There is a long tradition of cowboys being good dancers. In the old days cowboys would ride for two days just to go to a dance but because there was often a dearth of females at these dances, sometimes the cowboys had to dance with each other, with one man wearing a wild rag around his arm to indicate he was the girl. I'm told this still happens today in some places, although, I usually try to avoid such places.

I especially like to watch western swing dancers show off their intricate moves and by watching them I have developed a theory as to why many of the best dancers are cowboys. When you are wearing pointy-toed boots and spurs with long, sharp rowels your technique had better be precise or someone is going to get their ankles chewed up worse than if they were attacked by a flock of mad Dachshunds.

Like I say, I'm impressed by people who can dance and you never know who that will be. I'll never forget the time my wife and I were at a big cowboy wedding and when the music started my jaw dropped to the ground. My friend Bill and his wife, who I'd always assumed were just regular, hard working, quiet ranchers, were engaged in a fluid and graceful cowboy ballet the likes of which I'd never seen. I asked Bill how they got so good: Were they born dancers? Did they practice? My cowboy friend just tried to joke his fancy footwork away by saying they had nine kids with only one bathroom in the house. He also said there was nothing he enjoyed any more than dancing with his wife... because it's the last place on earth where the man is still in charge.

Who knows, maybe I could grow to like this dancing stuff after all.

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