There are many different ways to do a “tap dance.”
There’s the tap dance that your fingers do on a table when you’re impatiently waiting for something or someone.
There’s the tap dance that you do when you have to pee and are not quite sure you’re going to make it in time.
And then there’s that tap dance. The one you do when nobody’s looking. The fanciful, freeing tap dance that’s just for fun. That tap dance is the one I was told about at an office Christmas party 30 years ago, I’ve never forgotten.
We were sitting around the table sharing life’s most embarrassing moments. It had become a competition of sorts and I was sure I had them all beat with The Week That Was…but, that week for me was nothing like that morning for her.
I don’t remember her name so I’ll call her ‘Lucy’. I knew she was funny as soon as we met. And so, her story begins…
She was in college at the time and living in the girl’s dorm with many girls sharing many stalls in a l-o-n-g tiled bathroom. There were also many sinks lined up across from the stalls with many individual mirrors above each sink. We’re talking 1970’s college bathrooms here, no nice vanity’s around the sinks, no long extended mirror the length of the vanity, just a sink and a mirror, a sink and a mirror, a sink and a mirror…you get the idea.
Now, ‘Lucy’ loved to tap dance! Not the finger tap dance or the ‘I’m-not-gonna-make-it’ tap dance, (though she may have done both) Lucy loved the real thing…fancy tap shoes and all. She soon realized that the acoustics in the girl’s l-o-n-g bathroom would make her tap shoes sound amazing and she could watch herself in the mirrors as she tapped her way from one end of the bathroom to the other! What fun! Lucy was an early riser and this soon became her morning routine. She loved it. She would practice all of her ‘steps’, shuffle and ball change, step-heel and heel-step. She would even single buffalo. It was perfect!
One morning she had an even better idea, why not practice her tap dance while brushing her teeth! Brilliant! She could start a new buzzword, she could multi-task! And so she did. Back and forth, forth and back, past the stalls and sinks, watching herself as she danced from one mirror to the next, scrubbing her pearly whites, and listening to her tap-clad feet. She did all of those things all at the same time. What she did not do was expect anyone else to come into the girl’s bathroom because, so far, no one had.
It happened in an instant. Lucy was tapping her way toward the door humming Reveille. Saluting with her left hand and brushing her teeth with her right, elbows lifted high as she made her way past the mirrors. Just as she got to the door it opened quite unexpectedly and very forcibly. Her right elbow with the toothbrush was hit…hard. Her toothbrush was jolted missing her mouth and was shoved up her left nostril…far up her nostril…so far up her left nostril that she couldn’t get it out. And so, with toothpaste burning the inside of her nose, and her toothbrush holding firm, she began her walk of shame. Her tap shoes no longer making their glorious echo on the bathroom tile, now they made a dull clinking sound on the cement of the sidewalk as she made her humiliating way to the infirmary which was, of course, on the other side of campus. It was a long walk, a sad walk, a walk she will never forget. And neither will we.
And so, I gladly lost that most embarrassing moment competition, but did so happily because it’s really not that big a deal!