Ace

I think I mentioned once last year sometime that I used to be on the dance team one year in high school. For any who may have had the misfortune of ever seeing me dance, this may come as a surprise, but it’s quite true. I believe that when I mentioned having been on the dance team, I made a vague promise to recount the tale; so here I am, getting around to it, about a year later. Mormon standard time.

So, during my junior year of high school this cute girl came up to me and asked if me and Thomas wanted to be on the dance team. Now, we weren’t the smartest kids around, but we knew that the dance team was for girls. Slender girls in spandex. And that's exactly why we said yes. Absolutely, freaking yes with a towering exclamation point and underlined eleven hundred million times.

Here’s where I get around to explaining that we didn’t actually dance on the dance team, as this spectacle would’ve compromised any chance the team may have had to place at state. But the coaches were rolling with an “Ace Ventura Meets James Bond” theme (hey, I’m just saying that was the theme -- I’m not trying to endorse it as decent or even passably rational) and they needed a few human props. We were good with that. We were ready to befriend 50 cute little dancing queens. Well, maybe 44 cute little dancing queens and few more who were still, you know, working things out.

I was selected to play the part of Ace Ventura in the dance because I was kind of funny looking and I had long hair that could be flipped and swooped like Jim Carrey's. I don't really remember what Thomas was supposed to be, but he wore this sparkly gold shirt that looked a little campy. I think maybe he was a disco ball or something.

The dance teamers’ moms put together a pretty sweet outfit for me. One of them sewed a pair of bright yellow pants with stripes like Ace wears in the movie, and another one made a loud blue Hawaiian shirt. Then they bought me one of those white wife-beater tank tops from Fred Meyer’s, but I didn’t really fill it out very well. I think I was 5 foot 10 and something like 130 pounds. In a stiff headwind, it took me forever to walk anywhere. Anyhow, the outfit kicked some tush.

For the actual routine, the coaches taught me a few little moves here and there. At one point I was supposed to come out with a Super Soaker and do one of those running knee slides in front of the kick line. The first time I did it in practice no one really thought about padding, so my slide along the gym floor burned through the fabric of my pants and several layers of skin on my knobby knees. If I hadn't been in a gym with 44 cute chicks and 6 sweet spirits I would've pulled my bleeding knees up to my chin, grabbed my ankles, and sobbed like a Miss America loser. Instead I just sort of grimaced and hobbled away with a reassuring wave while the dance team members retreated to the far end of the gym, wrinkled their noses, and waited for the smell of smoldering flesh to dissipate.

The state competition was the World Cup of the Oregon dance team world. It was held in the Coliseum, where the Portland Trailblazers used to play back in the glory days when they could dribble effectively and when they led the league in statistics like "winning percentage" rather than "felonies committed." Actually, I probably shouldn’t talk smack about the Blazers because I think I read somewhere that they’re in the playoffs this year, which warms a cockle or two within my bosom. But I’m too lazy to retract my Blazer-trashing joke, so deal with it.

My favorite memory of the state competition was the massive room where all the dance teams waited until it was their turn to perform. Remember, only one team at a time could perform, and there were like 30 teams, and each team boasted between one and four dozen sprightly young ladies, so we're looking at about 750 chicks milling about in tight clothing in this huge room. Factor in that there were only about 20 guys spread across all the teams, and probably roughly a fourth of them were, you know, playing for the other team, and you can see that our odds were about as good as they were ever going to get. I mean, if you couldn't get a girl's -- any girl's -- phone number in that setting, it was really time for you to just find an empty casket somewhere, lay in it, and wait for someone to pall bear you to the next life. I mean, that’s like striking out in T-ball. Why go on?

So, you’re probably wondering if I got a phone number -- any phone number -- in that huge room. Hey – mind your own business and shut my casket. The light is hurting my eyes.