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philistine
January 19th, 2012, 01:11 AM
I was going to post this in the humour section, though figured it may get a better reception in the general forum. Apologies for any editing or formatting issues, as pasting from Word onto, well, any other editor is a nightmare (thanks Bill). :highly_amused:

Without further ado:



A Different Kind of Dance


Reader, the tale I am to tell is one of some crisis. It is the crisis of one man: that is, a Mr Jerry Cunningham. Jerry was married to a beautiful woman. If I remember correctly, I believe she was called Mary. Yes, the couple were very happy together indeed. For three years now they had occupied an apartment overlooking Stevenson Square in central Manchester. Situated near the glorious gardens of Piccadilly, Jerry and Mary both believed they had settled in a fantastically beautiful area, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

The problem which faced Jerry was one which he had concealed from everyone, especially his loving wife, for the entire duration they had known each other. Jerry Cunningham could not dance. The despairing owner of two left feet, he didn’t dare tell a soul, not least of which his wife, who was a great dancer, and loved it so very much.

A person may think, ‘Well, what if this chap can’t dance? It certainly isn’t the end of the world!’

Ah, but therein lies the puzzle! Jerry, somewhat foolishly, had told his wife early in their courtship that he was indeed a good dancer. ‘Of course I can dance!’ he would say, ‘pity a man who cannot dance with his wife!’

Mary was a keen dancer, you see. She enjoyed the salsa, the waltz, the slow dance, the fast and lively kind of dance, to which I am unfamiliar with, and various other kinds. Often as a teenager she would go dancing, dreaming of one day scuffling her shoes on a balcony in oh, say, France.

Jerry, much like the rest of the male race, had at one point put his foot in his mouth during their relationship. He had told his doting beau that he would love to take her dancing one day. A great affair indeed! A trip to an enormous ballroom with hundreds of people, rotating like spinning tops as they whispered sweet nothings in one another’s ear. Yes, he described the event as if it were a magical experience, not quite realising the effect it had on a young woman; a lady so young and in love with an artless fool!

How did the poor man get around this fact, you might ask? Well, he was quite clever in his concealing this very piece of information. In typical male fashion, he had formulated a series of ruses over the years, all more cunning than the last. Yes, under that hat of his, there mustn’t have been much space left. These ruses included, but most definitely were not limited to, working overtime at the office, incurring an injury somewhere on the evening commute home (always involving the lower half of the body, naturally), stubbing his toe on various kitchen and living room furniture, so much that not even the waste paper basket was blameless, amongst other assorted accidents, incidents, peculiarities and peccadillos. The ability to fool one’s loved one for so long is perhaps a work of genius, depending on who you are talking to, but to most, it was an act of indescribable dishonesty. Indeed, Jerry was a crafty man. Not so much in other areas of his life, but in terms of hiding his foot-loose ineptitude he was a grand master, as one could naturally imagine others in such a bizarre position to be. Inevitably, the day came when he decided enough was enough.

‘I must learn to dance’ he shouted in a dignified manner, right in the middle of his office room floor. He continued, ‘I shall learn even if it kills me! A man can’t continue such a lie forever!’

And so it was to be. Jerry Cunningham, resident of 47 Tourbillon House, Stevenson Square, was to set off on a journey that would change his life: he was going to learn to dance. And so, checking the newspaper whilst sitting back in his captain’s chair, he flicked to a portion of the paper that had previously been foreign territory: the advertisements. After a few seconds of keen surveying, he happened upon an advertisement ran by a certain Samantha Claire, of Claire’s Dancing School.

‘Just the ticket’ he whispered quietly to himself. Putting the paper down on the desk, he said enthusiastically, ‘this lady must see such folk all the time; middle-aged chaps such as I, who are afflicted so terribly’.

Jotting down the advertisement on a scrap of paper that lay handily by the desk, he filled himself with an odd confidence; the kind of confidence that a man gains when he has enough of his shortcomings. Let us not laugh at our man though, reader, for many of us have weaknesses: public speaking, starting work at a new office, or perhaps even meeting new people; all of these are common amongst everyday folk. But how many of us really change? The decision made by our man this evening was one which would change his life for the better.

Before retiring from the office, Jerry picked up the phone in the lobby, and called his dear wife.

‘I’m afraid I’m going to be late this evening dear. Yes, yes, I’m bogged down at the office again. They’re killing us here!’

Mary would often think, unbeknownst to her jigless husband, ‘we should be living in a mansion by now, what with all this extra work!’

With his alibi set, he withdrew the scrap of paper previously shoved into his breast pocket, and made great haste to the address.

Arriving at the door of the building, Jerry began to have second thoughts. An immense fear had jailed his figure. He realised he was like a lamb to the slaughter. His knees wobbled, his palms grew wet, and his mouth became as arid as an African desert. ‘I can’t do it’, he said frantically, panicking at the entrance. ‘What the heck was I thinking?!’ he went on, ripping the scrap of paper to pieces, before throwing it into a neighbouring trash can. Abandoning all hope, he made his way toward Stevenson Square, slightly dejected, but feeling calmer all the same. He hadn’t gone two minutes away from the dance school before realising his mistake.

‘It must be done!’ he said with considerable volume, so much that passing pedestrians looked up from their tiresome commute. ‘I need some help’ he whispered to himself, before making a sharp U-turn and heading back into town.

I must say reader, I feel it quite inappropriate to divulge the exact details of our man’s plan, though let it be known that the artificer of all confidence, readily available to any person of age, was indeed employed that evening. For a modest sum, one could buy all the confidence in the world, so long as it fit inside a bottle.

Appearing once again outside the dance school, our man leaned back, took in the view of the signage with open eyes, and scoffed at his previous anxiety. ‘Let’s do it!’ he said, thrusting a clenched fist into the air with the index finger pointing outwards. He jogged up the steps, and once the gusto of a man in quick stride consumed him, marched along the marble floor and opened the clear glass door.

The dance hall was quite a modest room, though large enough for the purpose of instructing would-be dancers. A fashionable waltz was playing in the background. The teacher, Samantha Claire, was stood at the front of the room, motioning to half a dozen or so couples in front of her. She was a petite lady; quite tall, though her figure not overbearing in any way. Jerry guessed her age to be roughly thirty, though her face was much like that of a younger woman. ‘The wonders of dancing!’ he said to himself, whilst standing under the entrance portico. Being a little late, he realised the class had already started. The men and woman were already paired, and the dancing seemed to have been going on for some time now. However, our man didn’t fret. He was as calm as a cucumber, and happy as a clam just to be there! At that moment, the instructor looked at him, and began to speak in a dainty voice:

‘Hello there. You are here for the lessons, yes?’

Jerry, not the least bit surprised, turned his attention to the slim lady and began to take off his coat. ‘Yes, I am here for the lessons!’ he said quite audibly; so much so, that the entire class had turned toward the jocose figure standing in the entranceway. Jerry took a deep breath, in the fashion of a man having just ventured outside, and began to walk forward at incredible speed. Barely three steps must have been made before his foot caught a nick in the parquet flooring. He tripped.

If you will forgive me reader, I am not in such a way as to describe the series of events which took place in the dance hall, though I will indeed not end the story here.

Mary, sitting at home, was beginning to wonder where her husband was. The cuckoo clock, mounted above the mantelpiece, had just struck nine o’clock, and there was no Jerry to be seen. No phone call. No message. There was absolutely nothing.

‘I hope everything is okay’ she said worryingly to herself, ‘that wretched boss of his, making him work all those extra hours… and without pay!’

She had a right mind to go down there one day and give him a piece of her mind, whoever he was. Of course, she never would have; it wasn’t in her character. But God knows these women, when acting through the pain of their husbands, facing their Goliaths, have the strength of fifty Davids!

At approximately ten minutes past nine, a knock at the door sounded. Mary ran from the kitchen window, which she had previously been staring out of, and opened the door. It was her husband.

‘Hello dear, I’m home’ he said in a bumbling fashion, like someone who had just experienced an ordeal. His clothes were mangled and dirty, and he was propped up by two crudely made crutches, evidently fashioned in some short period of time.

‘What happened to you?!’ his poor wife exclaimed. ‘Look at your clothes!’ she screamed, more and more surprised. Helping her battered and very much blue husband into the apartment, she sat him down, briefly smelling the stench of ‘confidence’ on his breath.

‘Oh, I just went for a dance after work. What a riot!’ he said with a bountiful sarcasm and comedy, to which his wife developed a dumbfounded expression.

If we are to draw a conclusion from this story, dear reader, let it not be that a man shouldn’t consume liquor to quell his nerves, but that he should always look for inconsistences in the ground, especially when that ground precedes a flight of stairs.


:ChainGunSmiley:

archeene
January 20th, 2012, 11:53 PM
I feel like i've just had pillow talk with an english gentleman. Cool story, like the converational tone of the narrator.

Olly Buckle
January 21st, 2012, 12:08 AM
the fast and lively kind of dance, to which I am unfamiliar with, and various other kinds. Surely to that which I am unfamiliar with :)


he was quite clever in his concealing this very piece of informationWhy 'very'?


right in the middle of his office room floor 'room' seems superfluous

Actually an awful lot of it seemed superfluous, I found myself skimming, knowing I did not need to read thoroughly to get the sense because there was so much padding.

philistine
January 21st, 2012, 01:08 AM
I feel like i've just had pillow talk with an english gentleman. Cool story, like the converational tone of the narrator.

Jolly good. Thanks for the response!


Surely to that which I am unfamiliar with :)
Why 'very'?

'room' seems superfluous

Actually an awful lot of it seemed superfluous, I found myself skimming, knowing I did not need to read thoroughly to get the sense because there was so much padding.

Thanks for the response Olly.

I'm unsure as to the first correction, as when faced with a choice, wouldn't 'which' be perfectly acceptable, in addition to 'that'? I don't know. I agree with the others though, absolutely. Reading sections in isolation really helps to, well... isolate the gaffes. [-o<

Superfluous in what way? In the sense that there is too much exposition on events?

Many thanks.

Olly Buckle
January 22nd, 2012, 03:50 AM
Superfluous in the sense of circumlocution, for example,

"Before retiring from the office, Jerry picked up the phone in the lobby, and called his dear wife."

has no advantage I can see over,

"Before leaving the office Jerry phoned his wife."

qwertyman
January 22nd, 2012, 10:44 AM
I think it's called 'voice', Olly.

By the same token you could replace:-


I must say reader, I feel it quite inappropriate to divulge the exact details of our man’s plan, though let it be known that the artificer of all confidence, readily available to any person of age, was indeed employed that evening. For a modest sum, one could buy all the confidence in the world, so long as it fit inside a bottle.


With, 'He went down the pub'.

I was fine with the 'voice' for a story of this length.

I felt cheated by the ending. The entire piece was devoted to how he was going to get round the dancing problem - and he didn't.

The moral at the end was a sort of wrap and nicely worded, but unsatisfying.

The Backward OX
February 1st, 2012, 11:57 AM
The gut feeling I obtained was of some words cobbled together and thrown at this site without much thought being given to the end result.



hundreds of people, rotating like spinning tops as they whispered sweet nothings in one another’s ear.



I’d like to see that. One ear shared amongst many.





stubbing his toe on various kitchen and living room furniture


various furniture??




a scrap of paper that lay handily by the desk,


on the desk, surely.




Jerry guessed her age to be roughly thirty, though her face was much like that of a younger woman.


How did he guess her age?

philistine
February 1st, 2012, 12:04 PM
I think it's called 'voice', Olly.

By the same token you could replace:-



With, 'He went down the pub'.

I was fine with the 'voice' for a story of this length.

I felt cheated by the ending. The entire piece was devoted to how he was going to get round the dancing problem - and he didn't.

The moral at the end was a sort of wrap and nicely worded, but unsatisfying.

Sorry it took me a while to respond. I'd forgotten all about this thread!

Many thanks for the comments. The idea for the story was an anecdote I once heard from an uncle of mine. He couldn't swim (and to my knowledge, still can't), and so at the age of forty something, starting taking classes. Long story short, he nearly ended up drowning, quite comically too might I add, which resulted in him nearly taking down another adult swimmer with him, ultimately not resolving the problem at all.


The gut feeling I obtained was of some words cobbled together and thrown at this site without much thought.




I’d like to see that. One ear shared amongst many.




various furniture??



on the desk, surely.



How did he guess her age?

Thanks for the response Ox. It appears I've dropped a fair few bollocks in the details, despite having gone over it numerous times. :shame:

Regarding the last comment, I don't think elaboration on how he deduced her age was necessary. He had, after all, just entered the room and spied all the occupants.

Thanks all.

Shorty Dawkins
February 25th, 2012, 02:29 AM
Jolly good story! I, for one, enjoyed the very British flavor of it. I've had friends who were English. Spot on, I say.

Shorty Dawkins