The Professional Beginner – Let’s Roomba! I mean Rumba….

“Hey, Jamie. Have you seen my skinny jeans?” I said to Jamie from down the hallway.  I peeked around the corner to absorb her reaction. When our eyes met, there was no humor in Jamie’s expression. Tonight, we would both be taking a trip outside of her comfort zone. Trips like these, I find exciting. Jamie, on the other hand, does not.

I’ll pause right here and back up to the beginning of the story.

In a couple of weeks, Jamie and I will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, to witness the marriage of Chava and Samantha. Chava is my main adventure buddy. Together, we’ve stood on the roof of Africa, (Kilimanjaro), the roof of Europe, (Mt. Elbrus in Russia), and the roof of the Lower 48, (Mt. Whitney). When Chava told me he was getting married, he let me off the hook to attend saying the ceremony would take place in Mexico. To that, I told Chava, “Getting married is the biggest adventure of all! No way am I missing out on this one.”

My buddy Chava is the ultimate showman. For instance, when Chava proposed to Sam, he did so with a billboard on the side of an 18-wheeler. Chava is not a half-asser. He whole-asses everything he does. The wedding will take place at a beautiful resort. It’ll start with a costume party on Friday night and a “black and white” wedding on Saturday. I’m 100% sure that the wedding reception is going to be off the chain.

About a week and a half ago, I was doing some deep thinking as I was grinding it out on the Peloton. As I pedaled, I thought, “Hey, Me and Jamie should need to up our dancing skills for the wedding.” I grabbed my phone and a couple of clicks later I had a line on The Fred Astaire Dance School. Immediately, I shot a link to the school’s website to Jamie. No explanation. Just a link. When I finished my ride, I went upstairs to shower and gauge her reaction. The second I reached the top of the stairs; Jamie gave me the side-eye. “C’mon now. It’ll be fun.” She was less than enthusiastic. For about 10 minutes, I continued my quest to sell Jamie on the idea. When Jamie said, “If we do the lessons, will we have to go more than once?” I could have just said yes, and the deal would have been closed.  Instead, I came back with, “Well, I don’t think we’re going to become Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with just one lesson.” In an instant, my smart-ass repartee had landed me back at the beginning. Ding! Ding! Round 1 goes to Jamie.  At this point, I figured I would go get a shower and start the mental preparation for Round 2.

“So, you’re located in the Heights off Sheppard,” I heard Jamie say to someone on the phone as I came down the stairs from my shower. Curious, I sat down on the couch pretending to watch TV. “Right now, we’re just interested in the introductory dancing class.”  Yes! Dance lessons were again on the table!  “Okay, a week from Monday will be fine,” Jamie said to the person on the phone. When I heard that I thought, “A week from Monday?  Screw that! Let’s go now. Or tomorrow” I looked in Jamie’s direction and mouthed, ”No, let’s go tomorrow.” She waved me off, and this time I decided to shut my mouth.  This was a win. No need to push it.

We arrived at the dance studio right on time. The first order of business was completing the Take-In Sheet. Jamie didn’t have her reading glasses, so she delegated the task to me. The Take-In Sheet is the opportunity for the new dance student to disclose info about their previous dance experience as well as aspirations for the class. Below, is a picture of my responses to their questions.

After completing the form, the next order of business was meeting our instructor. “Hi, I’m Trinity! And you are?” Immediately, Jamie and I knew we had hit the jackpot with this one. Trinity was full of energy and a good conversationalist. Right off the bat, she knew Jamie was all about business and I was the joker. Not gonna lie, I came out of the gate pretty hard with the wit and snappy retorts.  As fast I could toss out my jokes and one-liners, Trinity would catch them and throw them right back at me. Yes, Jamie was probably embarrassed, but hey!  That’s what happens when I’m given a week to develop my material. “We’re going to Mexico for a wedding. We’d like to learn some Latin dance steps,” Jamie said to Trinity. Trinity replied, “Did you have anything in mind?” “Maybe some Salsa and Roomba,” Jamie said back. I tried to stay quiet, but I couldn’t resist hitting the slow pitch Jamie had just tossed out. “Yup, Roomba. We’re wanting to 10X our vacuuming game.” “Okay,” Trinity said.  “Salsa and Rumba it is.”

We started the lesson with salsa. “1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 3,” Trinity rhythmically chanted. At first, the steps were difficult, but then it got easier. After about 5 minutes, Trinity said, “Now, let’s add in some music.” Trying to do my newly learned dance steps with music was much more difficult. My brain was confused. Hearing that Latin music kicked my brain into cold beer and queso mode. For the next 30 or 40 minutes, Trinity taught, and Jamie and I did as instructed. At the end of our lesson, Trinity told us we were doing awesome. To that, I thought, “Looks like little Trinity is not too close to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because that’s an obvious lie!”  Of course, Jamie WAS awesome. Me, on the other hand, was the true definition of two left feet. As we wrapped up, I asked Trinity to pour Jamie and me some champagne which we had initially been offered upon arrival at the dance studio. For the next 15 minutes, Jamie and I sat on a couch, drank champagne, and watched the other students dance. As we left, we both agreed that we had a terrific time, and we were glad we stepped outside of our comfort zone for the fantastic growth experience.

In closing, I’m super proud of Jamie.  Initially, I’d say that she’s not someone who spends much time out of her comfort zone, but on second thought she does. I also should say that she’s getting better at being uncomfortable. The more time you spend being uncomfortable, the better you get at it. We all define comfort and discomfort differently. I lost my fear of trying new things years ago. At this point, I’d say that I’m a Professional Beginner. Whether it was painting lessons, baking classes, or going to a bull riding school, each took courage to attend. There’s always apprehension when you do things for the first time. In the beginning, the big fear I had was looking stupid. Heck, these days when I do something for the first time, I’m proud when I look stupid. Why try to hide it? Newbies are supposed to make mistakes and ask dumb questions. I was once in this French pastry baking class. I was making Eclairs. I was at a table with 3 other accomplished bakers. I asked the question, “Why can’t we just dump everything into the same bowl at the same time?” Two ladies rolled their eyes. The other explained in terms I could understand why that would ruin the dough. We should all aspire to be more like that lady. If I could emphasize anything from the story today, it would be this. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I once read a quote that asked the question, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Ask yourself that question. If it’s been more than a few weeks, you should probably remedy that. I promise your life with be richer if you do.

On The List, I have “Learn To Do The Napolean Dynamite Dance”. As soon as I am done with the Salsa and the Roomba, that’ll be next up. As always, I hope you Find Your Adventure and Live Your Life.

PS – I initially told Trinity I had no dance experience. I totally forgot about my 2014 appearance in The Nutcracker when I danced with the Sun Valley Ballet in Idaho.  We did three shows.  Here’s a couple of pictures. You can guess which one was photoshopped.

PPS – Now that Jamie and I are becoming professional dancers, we watched Dancing with The Stars the other night. As we watched I told Jamie, “Check out the Sansabelt slacks on that dude.” Jamie said, “Oh yeah, they don’t have a belt.”  It was at that exact moment that I realized why they named the company Sansabelt.  Their main product was slacks “sans” a belt.  Uh-huh, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. In this photo, I laughed at where they put the words “Action Zone”.