As I mentioned yesterday, I have a black duck, and it’s dancing.

I’ve always wanted to be one of “those guys” on the dance floor. You know, the guys whose bodies magically pop and glide to the music? The guys who are surrounded by lady-folk and men-folk alike because they’re so much fun to watch? The guys who, well, they just know how to dance?

I always felt too fat to dance in high school. In college, I dropped a lot of the weight, and along with it my hesitation to let loose on the dance floor. I didn’t just start dancing, I started dancing hard and often. I didn’t care what I looked like. I had fallen in love with the adrenaline rush that came with bouncing to the music. I found myself at dance clubs and dance-offs every weekend. I was addicted. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Then, just six words from someone I loved stopped me cold in my tracks.

We were at the university homecoming dance. I went nuts on the dance floor, like I always did. I pounded the night away and had the time of my life. I was soaked in sweat and loving every minute of it. On our way out to the parking lot, I guess I needed validation, so I asked her how I did. Her reply was short.

“You could use a little help”.

Damn, that hurt.

And after that, I stopped dancing.

In fact, I refused to dance at all for the next seven years. Every time the temptation hit me, I could only remember those six words. Dancing was my rubber duck. I wanted to dance. I longed to dance. But the fear of embarrassment overrode all desire to move with the beat. The fear of having to hear those six words again destroyed it for me.

Then, later on when I found myself back in the dating game, I also found myself being invited to dance clubs and parties again. I started to remember my love for dancing, so I purchased some dance instructional DVDs and tried to learn “proper” dance technique. I felt confident enough that I went to a club with my buddy Dave. A girl I had begun dating also showed up with her girlfriends (surprise!). I took a gulp and decided to let loose. It didn’t take long to feel good again. It didn’t take long to remember the euphoria I felt while dancing. Before I knew it, that thrill of sweat-soaked hair and sticky clothes came rushing back to me. I was dancing again. And it was awesome.

The next day I talked to this girl. Still feeling the sting of the comment from years previous, I asked her how I did. She said I did great. WOOOHOOO! And then, “really though, you shouldn’t put your hands above your waist. You shouldn’t snap while you dance. You shouldn’t [fill in your own blank]”. She gave me a long list of shouldn’ts, all things I had definitely done while dancing the night before.

Damn, that hurt.

And, I stopped dancing.

Again.

That was about two years ago. And I’ve never had the guts to dance again. I’ve avoided it like the plague. I truly lost the desire to ever do it again. My duck would never be black. It would be wrong for it to be black. I would be stuck with a yellow duck for the rest of eternity. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you read yesterday’s post).

Or so I thought. Two days ago… Yes, I said two days ago, I sat down to write a post that I had been planning for some time. The title was “Have better moments”. I never wrote that post (though it’ll be a good one when I do!) because I ended up writing Before the number changes instead.

It was one of those posts that was something I desperately needed to hear, and I had no idea if anybody would or could understand what I was trying to say. It was one of those posts that just flowed through my fingers, putting the things inside of me into words that I could understand. ThatI needed to read. That would change me. By the end, I realized what my biggest black duck was. It was dancing.