Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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The Single Parent Blues And The Native American Rain Dancer

In a few days Serge is leaving for Spain for a two week tour with his band, Marah. This is all well and good and I hope he has a great time dancing on tables and in crowds - as he is wont to do during Dishwasher's Dream - but while he is serenading sexy Spanish seƱoritas I will be home singing the single parent blues.

I've parented alone before, of course, but it was just overnight while he had a couple one-off Marah gigs in D.C. or Pittsburgh. So this should be interesting. It's all what you get used to, you know? I'm sure by day 12 I'll have a routine down, but when you're used to tag-teaming, have grown accustomed to a man-to-man defense and then have to suddenly change it up into a zone defense... you are going down my friend. Going down like that little Bieber fella vs. the Steelers defense. I may sound like a big whiner because many women are single parents and to them I say my hat is off to you. I don't know how you do it. Copious amounts of alcohol in the wee hours? Scream-crying into a towel in the bathroom while the shower runs after all the kids are in bed? I'm sure I'll engage in both those activities in the next few weeks.

Speaking of activities, I spent last night dancing at a Marah gig in a nearby town and let me just tell you a thing or two about dancing and me. Well, wait. Let me first go back to a Marah show a couple months ago. Serge's step-brother's daughter was there, she's 13 or so and I wanted to encourage her to dance. I never danced to bands when I was younger. Hell, I never even went to see bands play. I wanted her to dance and not worry about what others thought. Because dancing is for you, not other people. If the other people don't like how you dance they can suck it long and hard. And let me tell you that it's a good thing this is my motto because I recently had the opportunity to view myself dancing.

Like I said, I went to the Marah gig a few months ago and dragged my little niece up near the band to encourage her to dance and have fun. I left my camera on the table and I think her dad or someone else in her family grabbed it to try to take a photo of us dancing. I had left it in video mode so they ended up taking a video instead. Or maybe they took the video on purpose as a sort of passive aggressive intervention to get me to stop dancing... Aw hell, I hadn't thought of that possibility until just now. Man. A dancing intervention? Just... daaaayumn.

The next day I was uploading my photos to the computer and lo and behold, there's a video I don't remember taking. I clicked play and was able to watch myself with the benefit (and brutality!) of sobriety.

Aw shit, y'all. The girl on the video? She didn't look slim and sexy, like I remembered feeling while dancing. She looked sweaty and awkward and bizarrely intense. Also? What is it with the Native American rain dance routine? Seriously. Am I trying to garner favor from the gods to get the crops watered? I would post the video but it's just - as Rachel Zoe would say - beYOND. And not in a good way. I do believe I'm more comfortable with you seeing a flash of my post childbirth vagina.

How do I describe this? Really. HOW DO I DESCRIBE THIS THING I DO? There is no fluidity. It looks more like part of an aerobics routine. It's this kind of exaggerated marching, knee-lifting thing and then I kind of fly my arms out and around. Uncomfortably similar to this. Which, yes, it may appear bad ass when you're banging a bitchen drum and dressed in feathers that would make a peacock jealous and are, you know, Native American, but not so cool on a dorky gal lumbering awkwardly around the floor.

So horrified was I over this revelation about my dancing skillz that I decided to bust a few moves at home in front of the mirror, something I've never done but probably should've before taking my moves public.

White girl can't dance, yo. White girl can summon rain like a motherfucker but white girl cannot dance. Which made last night's gig all the more uncomfortable. Because now, now I'm aware that I look a bit foolish, okay, A LOT foolish, when dancing. Here's the thing. You don't look even remotely how you feel while dancing. Especially when alcohol has been consumed. While I may feel like Britney Spears on her best day, I look like Kate Gosselin thundering around the hardwood on Dancing With The Stars.

But guess what? I still danced my mothertrucking ass off. Because I'll be damned if I'm not going to dance. Dancing is awesome. So I guess what I'm trying to tell you is stop making fun of people who can't dance you uppity So You Think You Can Dance watching, Dancing With The Stars loving jerks! There are a lot of us that are, um, how do I say rhythmically challenged? Man, I don't know if it's even a rhythm thing. It's just an awkward thing, really. Because I can keep a beat, I think. I just don't look so good while doing so.

Can you dance? Or do you think you can dance? The better question may be have you ever seen yourself dance? Perhaps you're better off not knowing what you look like, you know? I mean, I certainly would be in better shape never having seen the sweaty, drunk rain dancer. But fuck it. FUCK IT. What's that saying? Dance like no one's watching? That's my motto. Not because I dance like no one's watching, but because I'm certain they wish they weren't.

Reader Comments (18)

I used to be shy about dancing, but somewhere are 34 I decided Fuck It! I'm gonna do what I wanna do and that includes dancing. Am I any good? Doubt it. I'm a child of the 90's. I pogo and I dance like a raver. That's about it. But I enjoy myself immensely when I do it and I could give a flying fuck what others think.

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

Omg. I too love to dance my ass off when I'm totally feeling the music, and if alcohol has been consumed (which is pretty much required for me to dance in the first place), then I think I'm a fucken rock star. Before I had my baby I went dancing maybe once a year. A colleague/friend of mine recently had a big 30th birthday party on a boat tour around Manhattan, which included dinner, drinks, and a DJ. Hubs stayed home to babysit so I could have my fun night out. It was my first time dancing in almost 2 years, the DJ played tons of songs I really liked, I'd had 2 drinks, and I totally thought I was Rihanna out there. I danced my ass off for like TWO HOURS - sometimes alone - but man I was FEELING IT!!! Since this party, some of my colleague-friends haven't been as friendly with me as they used to be. I *know* it must be because I made the biggest ass of myself on the dance floor and they are probably embarrassed that they even know me. I've been trying to push the memory of this evening out of my mind and tell myself I'm just being paranoid, but Monica, your description of yourself dancing was both hilarious and yet painful to read because that was fucking ME. Shit. I am the office Elaine. I don't know how I will ever live that down. But I swear.... I really thought I was the hot-mom shit out there.

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous dancing fool

I am now a 24 year old mother of 2, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. When I was in highschool, my dream was to go to Julliard and be a choreographer. Like Janet Jackson's video to Rhythm Nation type dancing (and to this day, I can still do that whole dance). I have never watched my 200lb self dance, but yet people I have never met before, at friends houses or something will tell me how I am such a bomb ass dancer. And all I say is "I know!" Needless to say, my choreographer dreams are over and I am now a Pharmacy Technician, but I LOVE to dance...

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril

I am a single mom to three boys, three and under. Before I was a mama, I used to go to a lot of local shows around Philly and dance the night away. These days, I'm still dancing but it is to Imagination movers and the Wiggles. Which, I would never let any of those guys near my kids in real life. Creepy.

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCait

" Look, I'm dancin!" This strikes a bittersweet chord. Good to be able to laugh but gee, I am tired of being the butt of the ball. A dance hall goober. I wish you could show that video but completely understand and urge you to erase it if it's anything your kids will betray you with in the future. Not that you can't handle it. Okay, I thought I could dance too... and those closest to me felt it was best I was spared any further embarrassment. I was shocked to hear it but eventually caught a glimpse on tape. Something like the way you described only with a decidedly protruding rear. Disjointed and out of touch with my lower half. Out of self respect, I have quieted my dancing down a bit and am working on my actual cross to bear which has more to do with an odd posture. I am more concerned about being caught walking on tape. Keep dancing!

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

Oh you made me laugh so much when I clicked on the link to the feathers' man! :D
You're too funny, Monica! And I'm sure you see yourself much worst than you really are! You're a beautiful woman, and I'm sure you're beautiful while dancing too!
And for the 2 weeks without husband... I feel for you... I can't hardly stand a weekend alone with the kids... But, as you said, after a few days of discomfort, you all will find a routine and things will get better! Good luck!

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSerena from Italy

Went to a kids party yesterday and they had on Dance2 on Nintendo Wii. I thought I was awesome until the 4 year old dancing with me scored higher. Obviously something wrong with their wii ;) Apparently I was filmed, yeah..... cant be waiting for that one LOL.

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

my husband travels a lot and we have a 4yo and twin 2yo(s)!! he's very hand on when he's home. the first few days alone are always the hardest. some things just have to slide. i say by day 3 you'll be a pro! tired, but a pro (with lots of laundry to do. alone.)

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertracie d

I LOVE to dance!!!

I never sat down at my brother's reception - had a BLAST!!!

A few months later and everyone in my family was pestering me to watch their wedding video. My brother told me I was in it more than they were because I was always dancing, "it's hilarious!". My new SiL - "we'll made the video - it's hilarious!". My nephews, who I FORCED to dance - "it's so funny!". Everyone watched it, except for me.

I know I looked like a fool. I did not need the loop of me looking like an idiot running in my head. I keep dancing though because I do need the loop of feeling free and having fun running in my head!!

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreenInOC

Mon, I never watched myself dance (but I did see your lovely video of me playing the tambourine and it was downright scary!) I think I was trying to hone in on your inner rain dancer thing or perform some sort of exocism?

All, I have seen the girl dance - she sort has a jumping around thing going on - It's no as bad as you say Monica!

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMissy

There is a video of one of the recent shows in PA that is up on youtube, must have been a fan that uploaded it. But you are shown several times in the lower right of the screen dancing your a off. I remember being so excited that you danced just like spirit...feeling the music and not following the same routine as everyone else. Rain dance is what my brothers call it too. We may not dance like everyone else but we definitely can dance....dont get it twisted.

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramber

My husband was home for a grand total of 72 hours between his most recent business trips, (London and Hawaii, thank you very much) and sick for ALL of them. WHEEEEE!!!! He won't be home until next Friday! It sucks, but it's a new-ish job (8 months in) and a BIG promotion, so I can't complain (plus the fringe benefits are amaze balls) but it still kinda sucks. The first and last few days are always the hardest, but I have a fantastic sitter I can count on for a few hours a week for a sanity break or two..And grandma has promised that she'll come and hang out when he gets sent to Spain so I can go back!

And, I'm sorry, but I think we're gonna need to see this video so we can judge for ourselves! :)

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

I've never seen myself dance...thank goodness. I would imagine it would be similar to the rain dance but with less rhythm. Judging by the way my husband laughs when I dance i'm think i just border on comedic.

I still dance whenever, where ever i can. :)

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharity


September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Chorizo Man

I had a blast dancing with you at the show! I've been to many Marah shows and people never dance. I'm a little too shy to go at it alone. I've seen video of the show at the Elk Creek from July and I am there. Dancing like a loon. But it is so much fun. I was glad then and on Saturday to have a dancing partner.

And feel free to shoot me some pointers on surviving without the husband while they rock peoples faces off.

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCec

Your husband is a big walrus. Call me.

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterc. jones

Aw, whatev, dude, I'm sure you looked kickass doing it and you're just being hard on yourself! Or not, in which case, big whoop, who gives a toss! It's still awesome.

I loooove to dance (always have) and know how to...been doing it since I was a kid and can nail Britney's moves with the best of them (er...that'd be Old School Britney, heh). I was 14 when Brit burst onto the scene and I learned the choreography in her Baby One More Time video with glee. Good God, I STILL remember the choreography. The things our brains retain!

I get into this zone when I dance...I become hyper-limber and totally funk out, which is pretty cool. Awesome to do, awesome feeling. But I'd wager most people who love dancing, irrespective of their "skill level" or whatever the deuce, have that same feeling.

Daaaaaaaaaaancing, YEAH!

Okay, I'll go away...nnnnnnnnnow. Heh heh.

September 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPretzel Thief

Monica, I was dancing in my kitchen today as I was washing my dishes, and thought of you! The secret to good dancing is The Groove. Instead of bouncing or flailing, The Groove keeps it cool.

That is why the guys who are good dancers are also good in bed.... yup, bet you didn't know THAT is a fact.... hee. They know it's about the Grind (similar to The Groove) and not the Pound....

I've embarrassed myself enough here, my word is spread!

September 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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