Years ago before the woman that is the focus of our story became the surface of a newspaper headline she grew up in a town of central Ohio. One with hopes and dreams of being a professional ballerina. She wore pink when she went to bed and pink when she went to school. Oftentimes, the widget wouldn't allow the parents to supplement her clothing with the colors that she wished and she wore red and orange and yellow and imagined them to be those simple shades of red and white to create a hue of ballerinaism that she so desired. She danced in her bedroom and in her bathroom to sounds of excess and chainsaws and pop stars hoping for a better life. One of stages and bright lights but found none. She grew old and tired and aged and restless, wrinkled and rounded; her face and whiskers framed by her lips. She was ugly, no woman liked her, and no boy would talk to her. She was what they called an outcast, she was a Clyde when she only wanted to be a Bonnie. So she practiced her moves and pranced about her bedroom in the recesses of her night, Without phone, without journal and most definitely, without makeup. As those tiny little slippers that were given to her became to thin for her to wear outside of her room she started to feel the bristles of the carpet and as she did she started to feel the sound, no the feeling of dancing. She buried herself in all of the greats of the time, the Britney Spears, the Christina Aguilera, the simple Mexican pop stars that were relegated to oap operas that noone would ever see or hear from again and she never replaced the shoes.
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She cut holes in the toes to allow her feet to breathe, to sing the songs of of anathemic bliss that her heart felt every day but her motions were not able to express. And little by little her grace became something elegant. She walked different. She talked different. Well that was because she was wearing braces. But still, she talked different. Her grades began to slacken but her parents said nothing because she was a different person. Not locked in her room reading strange books about dinosaurs at the tender age of 13 but reading books about reptiles and studying them with a fervor that few could understand, including the author of this story. And her parents. And everyone else. But she danced and danced.
She joined the high school pep squad and soon became a phenomenon. She was known as far and as wide as all pep squad girls were. Her poster was plastered all the places that posters of the entire pep squad was plastered. The cafeteria, the theatre, the pep squad practice room! She was the third from the left on the second to the last row. And there was her name! She had finally achieved the recognition she deserved. She could be apart of the Ohio players had there not have already been an Ohio players! But she was a part of the Shanawsee Saints and she was proud. Football games and football games she danced in line with other women of her shape and stature and wore those holy slippers underneath her dancing shoes as socks and took the crowd by storm. She knew the saints were not a winning team, but only, only if she could only dance more than at half time she could inspire them, make them feel what she could feel…
The saints failed again that year, to go to the playoffs, or win a game for that matter. The district that they were in had a clause that only those teams that had playoff teams were allowed to compete in the Ohio Pep Wonder Playoffs. A competition of thousands, well, 20 or so that would compete for an award that was so large that only two or three could place their hands on before it was covered in palms and everyone else just touched the hands that touched it. But that year light shone on her. And gave her a chance to remove those holy shoes that made her the dancer she was and replace them with those of greatness.
The competition was one that was sponsored by the local radio station called, "This is What we Call hip-Hop" and she took that as a sign for her. One that gave her presence and opportunity to show that she not only stood for the saints or Shawnasee or dancing but herself.
The contest required a 20 second audition veto that needed a 5 second intro as to why you should be considered but also a 15 second dance routine as to why you should also be a qualified dancing contestant. She listened to the radio every night to hear those that called in and said they would be the next ABBA Dancing Queen.
There was a girl that she had known since childhood that was so pretty that when boys saw her in the passageways of the school they stopped and yelled things at her like she was a star, things she didn't understand, but knew they were important. She knew about lips and licking and icecream but she wished she was that to them on the dance floor. She would be one day.
She practiced her routine. Hard. As fast and as rigorous as she could. She sweated and slept in her workout clothes. She fell asleep to her music, her secret song that she told noone about, not even her most trusted companion, her mental journal! She knew how it worked, if you wrote it down, love would betray you and your secrets would be gone. Dance was this and nothing would betray her from him…or her. Or it. Nothing.
As the competition deadline got closer she had to find a video editrix. Someone that could embody her style of her work. Make it personal but also flamboyant at the same time. But she had no friends and no where to go so she started to think.
But then she realized she had no friends, so she was out of ideas again.
So she went to the only place she knew
She went to the drama department and asked the first person she saw. A boy Nam Nam McCready that was tall and dreamy like a luscious little rainbow popscicle that you bought with the last pennies you found in your parents couch and when you opened it you wanted to eat it but it was so luscious and dreamy that you just let it melt on your hands and told everyone that you did. Eat it I mean. He said yes, of course with conditions, those being that she eat him; like he was luscious and dreamy like a popsicle and not to let any of it spill on her hand like in her imagination but to make sure that all went into her mouth and she said yes and got that over with and Sean went about constructing a set out of the leftover material from a previous one act. But give me a fuckin' toss. I'm shooting for something here. Listen to me.
It was soft and frilly. It was big and fluffy. And the music, was well, less than expected. It came from a boom box in a corner and sounded like it. Sean suggested she act like she sing along with it against her own better judgments and she did a run through that she wasn't proud of but she soldiered on, after all, that's what dance was about, sacrifice. But then he wasn't happy and she wasn't happy and he started talking about the rainbow popsicle again and she remembered…that was how they met?
So she said, lets do it again this time without the nudity and the close-ups and "all that" and just the music and the dance, oohhh…the dance she loved so much. He acquiesced, she did it and they stopped. She looked at it and knew it was a keeper. She made him put it on a tape, did the popsicle thing a few more time than she wanted, and waited for the radio station to call.
The days creeped like extra pounds on a scale that she had tried so hard to get rid of before a contest. And as the sunshine came and fell at dawn so did her hope that they would ring her in the respect that her at her discarded dawn in her shoes deserved.
She fell that day. Down the stairs of her parents stairs marked with photos of her as a dancing queen at the age of five in front of so many at the Shawnasee music hall, when she did a rendition of 80's Tiffany that left people stunned and speechless hoping for more but got nothing else. The picture of her at the high school dance lesson where they took photos through a window that they told them was one way but wasn't and all the people including her parents saw her trip and fall into that pirouette of Billy Jean. She fell like bricks. Bricks dropped on a sack of potatoes. And crushed by a flaming bag of shit. That was set on fire and rubbed in her face to make her know that she wasn't worth it it.
The contest deadline came and the phone call came and she knew she was a lost cause and nursed her wounds and hoped that…they called.
They did, they said they liked her tape and wanted her to come in for the live radio audition. Her spirits filled. Her leg welled. As th blood rushed to her brain so did the passion for dancing to her heart.