Tap Dancing in the Driveway…

Radish Story #3

Signing up for a mother-daughter tap dancing class sounded like a perfectly normal thing to do all those years ago. What could go wrong?

My daughter Rachel was young enough to think this was a really cool idea. This was before she dropped out of Girl Scouts, even though I was the leader, and broke my heart. Damn, it’s still hard to let them find their own way but it was all part of the deal when I signed that contract with the universe to be a hot mama.

Hansing’s School of Dance in our little Wisconsin town was a big part of the community. It was almost as if everything that happened included someone dancing across the stage carrying a flag, or waving and wearing something sparkly, while smiling brightly as if they were having the time of their life. Who doesn’t want a piece of that?

So, we signed up and so did a mess of other terrified looking mothers and a mess of daughters in a variety of shapes, sizes, and ages.

Tap dancing, as I quickly learned, was not for the uncoordinated, someone who was born pre-Title 9, or was a writer who was easily distracted by watching people, things, and shiny objects. Trying to locate used tap-dancing shoes for large women’s feet is not easy either.

But there we were, Kris and Rachel, flinging themselves around the lovely dance studio, giggling, and thinking everything was just going to be fine and dandy and we were actually tap dancing…well, sort of.

I knew a lot of the other mothers and we would often glance at each other and mouth things like, “What in the hell are we doing?”, or “Do you think we are nuts?” or “This is really pretty damn hard.”

But on we went until that fateful day when lovely dance instructor Lisa announced that we were all going to be in the community dance studio recital and wasn’t that wonderful!

The shocked look on everyone’s face remains with me today, and of course, being Kris Radish, I started to laugh. “I’ve never been in a dance recital. This will be fun!” We were lucky to get a used bike growing up. The mere thought of dance lessons would never have crossed my mind. By the time I was a mother I had already reached the point in my life where I didn’t care much about how or why people judged me and maybe I was thinking that one day I’d get to tell this story.

Pretty soon lots of women and their toe tapping girls were dropping out of the class. The fear of public humiliation is a tough cross to bear but bring it on, I thought! Also, I didn’t want Rachel to get the idea that if something was hard, we just quit. It really was fun and Lisa was a sweetheart and even though tap dancing had never been on my dream list it was a chance to try something new.

Things started to heat up as we got closer to dance recital time and the few women left nervously tapping, myself included, started to panic, and we decided we needed more practice. So, I offered my blacktop driveway during the day when the daughters were at school. I even tested it out to see if the tapping worked and it did. Whohoooo!

The women came over, we put on our shoes on, plugged in the tape recorder and started dancing away. Tap, tap, tap….. Suddenly, several neighbors came running down the street yelling, “We hear gunshots! We hear gunshots!” and when they got to my house, they discovered a small group of grown women tap dancing in a driveway. It was hard to go on after this, what with all the laughing.

We were the talk of the town before the recital even started!

No one threw up or passed out on the stage during the recital, which was a good thing, because I think we were down to like four mothers by this time. Rachel glowed like a neon sign up there, I smiled through my terror, and we made a lot of people smile.

My son Andrew was also taking dance lessons, that didn’t last long, and he forgot to tie his shoe when he went up stage at the same recital. The shoe flew off and into the audience sailing past stunned grandparents, fathers, and bewildered looking brothers and sisters.

No one was hurt and if people were laughing at me, I never heard them and for one brief moment in time, I was a tap dancer!

And now you have a Radish story and a little piece of my life.