It’s not an exaggeration when I tell you that I’m the least coordinated mammal ever to roam the grassy plains of the Midwest.
I’m not even ashamed of it. Sure, getting picked dead last for every team in every sporting discipline was not one of my fondest childhood memories, but I’ve learned to own my physical awkwardness.
That doesn’t mean that participating in an adult tap class didn’t have me recently hyperventilating. Usually, as an act of kindness, I would have spared the general public from seeing me partake in any endeavor that would require foot coordination beyond putting one hoof in front of the other, but the tap class was a fundraiser for charity, and I would be among friends, so I gave myself a pep talk and signed up.
The evening of the tap class I was nervous. The fact that I was wearing a giant tap shoe didn’t help. Well, that’s a lie: The “clown shoe” did provide some comic relief for my fellow tappers. What these women didn’t know was that sadly my foot was snug in a dude’s size 11 shoe. (Hey, I’m tall. I need big feet to be in proportion.)
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Lucky for me the tap class was being taught by my daughter’s teachers at Priscilla and Dana’s School of Dance. This meant they had seen me in action — and by that I mean attempting to walk upright — so I felt certain they wouldn’t expect much from me. I also hid myself in the back row so I could sort of disappear.
And really I thought, “How hard could this tap class be?” Everyone there was a mother with probably limited skills, and I was in the beginner class. I couldn’t imagine we would do anything beyond stomping our feet, marching around the room and making some boisterous clickety-clack sounds.
Yeah, I was wrong about that. Say hello to tap teacher extraordinaire Teri Day. To her, we weren’t a bunch of moms escaping our families on a Friday evening. We were women she was going turn into tappers. There was no messing around. Thirty seconds into the class and she had us step-ball-chaining, and then she took us right on over to something called a paradiddle.
Sure paradiddle is fun to say. I could say it all day long: paradiddle, paradiddle, paradiddle. But my men’s size 11s were not having it. It was hard.
You had to dig your right heel and whack the floor and then do what’s called a spank where you brush your foot back and finish off with stepping down on the ball of your foot. Were we dancing or doing algebraic equations with our feet?
Add in that this woman would not let up. Next thing I know she had us attempting to do toe stands, and that’s scary — the whole tippy-toes in tap shoes thing. And before I could even have a solid freak out about that, we were doing a whole routine.
Jesus take the wheel because I was tapping, as in paradiddling the heck out of it. Me, the girl who can’t walk and chew gum.
No doubt, I was the worst tapper in the history of dance, but in my mind I was killing it. I left the tap class like I walking, no tapping, on sunshine.
When I told my daughter about my tapping triumph she was not impressed.
“Mom,” she said, “It’s less about you tapping and more about Teri Day being a tap God. There’s no one she can’t turn into a tapper.”
I replied, “So, I guess you’re saying she’s got the mad skills, not me?”
“Exactly,” was my daughter’s succinct reply.
Whatever, in my mind I’m still a tapper. So paradiddle on that
Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.