Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This Is Not A Post About Michael Jackson

As all three of my remaining readers are aware, Jeff and I attended Rift Valley Academy which is a Christian boarding school for the children of missionaries. Because their target audience hailed from a variety of denominations, RVA tended to err on the side of the conservative when it came to particular codes of conduct. Dancing, for example, was strictly prohibited.

Needless to say, it was quite a ground-breaking moment when it was announced in my 8th grade class that the girls would begin doing aerobics in PE. To say I was excited about this radical new addition to the usual mundane PE curriculum would be an understatement.

Not surprisingly, it was aerobics set to Christian music.

Exercise for Life by Stormie Omartian, if I remember correctly, and taught by a none other than a member of our own supporting church in CA. (Have you any idea how rare that is on the mission field? I mean sometimes in a blue moon you’ll find someone in the same country that went to your home church in the US, but never upon never do you find someone from your home church working right alongside you.)

But as conservative as RVA was, the BJU alumni* responsible for raising me were nothing short of rigid when it came to the perceived evils of dancing. Though my Dad had never actually witnessed aerobics in action, the mere concept of physical movement set to music seemed entirely too much like dancing to him. How could it be anything BUT sexually suggestive? To my horror, I was promptly banned from doing aerobics with my class. Instead, I retired to the library for 50 minutes alone while the rest of my girl friends jogged to an early 80’s techno mix of “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, and did risqué donkey kicks to “This is the Day That the Lord Had Made”.

My exclusion from this exercise only served to cause me to seek out the opportunity to do it. I desperately wanted to be a cheerleader, not for the cheering so much, but for the awesome routine they got to choreograph and perform at homecoming. Alas, I was never cute enough, or thin enough, or talented enough, or coordinated enough…or perhaps the coach didn’t want to tangle with my Notorious D.A.D.

After graduating from RVA, I attended Taylor University, yet another environment that was wholeheartedly anti-dance, and that pretty much sealed my fate. While dancing often called my name, it was never going to be something I did regularly…or when I did do it, felt confident about my ability to do it. (Insert some violins playing some awfully sorrowful music here. This is a sad story, isn’t it?)

Jumping ahead 20 years. This summer our church is running a sports-themed VBS, which involves bringing in professional athletes like Rodney Monroe to run sports clinics interspersed with large group and small group sessions. We’re expecting 600 kids and oh, hey, I’m on the committee, can you tell?

I knew that we were having a bit of trouble confirming someone to lead the dance sessions, but because our church has an entire praise-dance division, I was kind of tuning those conversations out. Also, I was a little concerned with how I was going to manage my own area of responsibility, that being overseeing the multitude of small group coaches/assistants we need, and was busy mentally trying to figure out if I could sell the idea well enough to entice the Sr. Saints to come get run over for a week! So you can imagine my surprise, and ensuing delirium, when the children’s pastor I teach under emailed me last week to ask if I would teach the dance sessions at VBS this year – and not just any old dance…but hip hop.

It’s a genre I am well-versed in, not because I have ever done it per se, but because I watch a lot of So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Best Dance Crew. In my mind, I consider myself an expert…if expert is defined as 9 times out of 10 you can guess who is going to win the competition.

As you can imagine, my impressive street cred, coupled with years of repression in both high school and college, prompted me to jump at the chance to trade responsibilities, and thus FINALLY be able to live out my dream of being a fabulous hip-hop artist. Except that I am seriously way past my prime so there is really no way this is going to be anything but a HUGE PUBLIC SPECTACLE culminating in a nightmare. But one I’ll be awake for and after which we’ll probably have to move out of the state because I’ll never be able to live down the humiliation. My dear husband actually took a look at me trying to decipher some moves last night and said, “I can see a lot of humor coming out of this.” And then he cringed and left the room. It bodes well, doesn’t it?

I would like to end this post by listing for you here a few observations related to my most recent practice session in hopes that this experience will benefit someone else on the downhill slide to 40 that may be tempted to allow their fantasy life to guide them a step too far:

1. The trendy shag carpet that works so well in the play room has not proven to be the optimal dance surface. Also, I have never been so tempted to rip out a ceiling fan with my bare hands. Apparently, when I jump, I am 7 feet tall.

2. Speaking of jumping, while this is both inexpensive and readily accessible, I can say with great authority that it is not intended for high impact “sports”.

3. I have asthma. How this debilitating medical condition has gone undiagnosed for 38 years, I’ll never know, but unless our insurance company approves my request for an oxygen tank immediately, I do not expect to live through our first clinic on July 13th.

4. It is my opinion that the hip hop genre is best suited for waifs rocking a size 2 wardrobe, which means I have approximately 12 more days to lose 45 pounds. Make that 46 pounds since I just ate a huge brownie. I’m carbo-loading in hopes that it will help me to build up some stamina…or at least some energy reserves.

5. Like kegels, core muscles are something I’ve never really given much thought to. Until I needed them in order to teach something that looks like this….and subsequently discovered they weren’t there.

And now if you'll excuse me, I really must go get a massage.

* I would be remiss if I did not add somewhere here that my parents have loosened up ever so slightly over the years. My youngest brother tore up the dance floor at his wedding, and my sister served adult beverages at hers. At neither event was anyone struck by lighting. Both were nights to remember in the history of Bustrumdom if for that reason alone.


  1. I Often look at your blog, just find it difficult to post comments!!! We shall see if this works. You are TOO FUNNY and ENTERTAINING BTW!!!

  2. Oh Mel, please please please post a video of your dance moves!!
    You made me laugh out loud, again! Wish you would write more often :-)

  3. a couple of thoughts leaped (he,he) to mind...


    Don't forget the most beneficial "grapevine" from that aerobics workout...we had a long hallway in our house and all three of us would be grapevining up and down. And, dude, you got to sit out PE?! In the library? And you complained?

    Just teach the wee ones to "stomp" and all will be well!

    And, yes, there had better be a video!

  4. I am and will always be a devoted follower of FF&F (thank you Google reader). Melanie, you made me laugh so hard that tears, real tears came out. I'm still smiling. Can't... stop... smiling. You need to make a video. I would pay money. For reals

  5. Melanie, so glad to see you are back in the blogsphere! I love you stories and check in frequently. Cant wait to see the results of VBS and hear more stories. By the way, your husband is no stranger to dance... get him to help you out!! Two words... "Sailing Club".

  6. You CRACK ME UP. I can hear your voice, your innate ability to make a story come alive, in my head as I read this. I am cracking up. Hilarious.

  7. Melanie, I was excited when you told me that you were going to be teaching a hip-hop routine and as you can see the girls loved it and many times when the song was playing after the morning was over they all would get up and dance to it. You are a blessing and will you teach it to me please. You survived it and I know that the girls loved it.

  8. michelle warner taylorOctober 13, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    I laughed a bunch at this post. man, can I relate! Was only discussing it this week with a friend! I would never have guessed you had a D.A.D. :) you were so COOL!

  9. Excellent I remember when I watched her programs because she did perfect exercises it was the way I lost weight, even now that woman looks so thin and beautiful.m10m