Your Move, Stud: Let's Go Dancing

Baby, if I'd have known you would respond so well to the ultimatum I gave you at the beginning of the season, I would've given you one last year, too. True, your Funky Chicken left a lot to be desired, but you've out-danced the last ten couples we've faced this year. Your dance moves have not always been the smooth, suave steps I desired, but our relationship has always been that way, too, hasn't it, baby? We've always been more Fred Munzenmaier than Fred Astaire, more Monster Mash than Minuet, and more Junkyard Dawg than genteel snob. At the end of the day, all you have to do is to out-dance the other couples on the floor. Victory is all that matters.

Granddaddy understood that an ugly victory counted just as much as a pretty one. True, he was your granddaddy, but he treated me like family, too. He always told the truth about you, never glossing over your faults but never failing to praise your accomplishments. He never sugar-coated...Sugar. Granddaddy loved sugar. I could hear the tears of joy in his voice years ago when you danced so beautifully that sugar fell from the sky. The intensity of his gravelly voice when he told you to hunker down, to hold your place on the dance floor and to not let the other couple come back...I miss him, baby, and I know you do, too. I miss him so much I'm determined to do everything I can this weekend to make the sugar fall from the sky once again, just for Granddaddy.

After the way this year began, I can hardly believe that we're dancing this weekend. Usually, this is the time of year when we face the bitter truth: our time together this year is nearing its end, and all there is to do is to watch a few select couples dance this weekend while waiting for our last dance of the year. If you'd have told me after that first date that, at the end of this year, you'd be taking me back there, I probably would have knocked your garish hat off your head. Such a declaration would've sounded like yet another empty promise, yet another wheedling lie meant to soothe and placate. Yet here we are, at the beginning of our last full month together before life once again separates us, improbably going back to the scene of that first disastrous date. I would remind you of the way you trod on my foot, bumped into the couple dancing next to us, and landed on your butt, but I'm not that cruel. We are dance champions of our division with a chance to be crowned dance champions of the toughest region in the country, and if we dance well enough this weekend, we'll dance in a month on a stage equally big-if not bigger.

As sweet as that bigger dance sounds, I still don't think it's as important as the one you're taking me to this Saturday. We're going back there, back to the place where we were both humiliated by your dismal dancing at the beginning of the year. Now, you have the chance to prove your worth on an equally big stage against an even more talented dancing couple. Baby, this couple is unlike anyone we've faced this year. They are passionate, intense, talented, and, perhaps, slightly insane. In the subjective world that is dancing, this couple has a significant public perception edge over us. Dancing is as much a beauty contest as it is a sum of scores, and this other couple has most of the experts on its side. In fact, many people seem to believe that we don't even belong on the same dance floor as this couple. Of course, some of these people are less-talented dancers with slutty girlfriends who are jealous of the opportunity me and my man have.

And that, baby, is the crux of the matter, isn't it? As always happens this time of year, a handful of couples are making noise because they feel that they deserve a spot in the Big Dance, deserve a chance to dance against the undisputed best couple in the country. As Cee Lo would say, forget them. Forget their jealous insults and their hideous outfits and their uncouth manners. Ignore their petty arguments, tenuous rationalizations, and pitiful projections. All that matters is that we're getting the chance for which they're clamoring. Wherever our last dance of the season takes place, it surely will not happen against a higher caliber couple than we will face this week. Who cares what those others feel like they deserve? We're getting this chance not because of statistics or formulaic foibles or popular opinion; we're getting this chance because we won.

So forget them, baby. Forget about the Big Dance and those other pathetic popinjays with their hoochie girlfriends. Forget about stats or popularity or punditry or...well, don't forget about sugar entirely, but don't obsess over it, either. Granddaddy loved his sugar, but he loved even more when you would show up for a date completely focused on the dance at hand to the exclusion of all else-except me, of course. So let those other couples lobby the powers that be and talk, talk, talk. Let them tell everyone that we're nothing, that we don't stand a chance this Saturday, that they'd do better if given the chance. Because, baby, odds are good they've either already had the chance and blown it or will not get the chance at all. But we will.

We will show up properly attired in red, black, and silver with no garish outfits between us. Neither of us will overestimate our own abilities or underestimate those of the opposition; we've matured too much for that. Others will watch, either scoffing at us or pulling for chaos, but they don't matter, baby. All that matters is you, me, and the other couple. And your dad; he's pretty important, too. He'll know what to do this time, though; I trust your dad to do the right thing, although I can't say the same for all his assistants.

No matter what happens, though, know that I'm so proud of you, baby. I'm proud of your accomplishments, your attitude, and the fact that you've brought us here now. I'm proud of this chance that we have, the dreams within our grasp, and the opportunity we have to prove people wrong. I'm proud to be the woman in your arms, and I'm proud to stand up with you against the best in the land. Win or lose, baby, let's dance our hearts out and leave everything on the floor. You've earned this dance, and I've earned the right to stand with you.

Yet I'm not the leader on the dance floor. Your dad can instruct you on how to move, but only you can execute, only you can make those decisions out on the floor. I will try my hardest to follow your lead because I promised I would all those months ago. I promised that if you showed that you were willing to work hard to make this relationship work, that I would act accordingly. You did, so I will. But I can only do so much. Only you can coordinate our steps, can keep me dancing, can evoke that all-night passion we're going to need just to keep up with these guys. I will try to keep your spirits up, try to keep you from flagging, try to keep you on track. Ultimately, you're the dancer, you're the star, and I can only follow your lead. All I ask is that you dance your hardest, that you dance the night away with me like you could not and would not last time we were here. Just do your best, and I will do mine. I will stand with you, will dance with you in this biggest of dances, but where and how we go is ultimately your decision, your choice.

Your move, stud.

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