[Shakes] We are riding off into the sunset (minus the horses), and this time we really are going to find Tristan and rustle up some really great Cha Cha lessons or Tango lessons or whatever because we are bound and determined to wrangle some dance instruction with Tristan. I’m at the point where he can teach me the YMCA sort-of dance or the Dance Of How to Walk Across the Floor Without Falling. I’m no longer particular and prissy like SWAT who has her very specific dance requirements. Now really, does somebody who wears a blue and white gingham tutu and sports magenta pigtails have any room to be particular?
[SWAT] So we really aren't playin' around this time. Our once promising road trip has become a comedy of navigational errors and poor costume choices. Not mine of course...my tutus are still in the picture. Shakes has been trying to find ways to secretively dispose of them but little does she know, I've got them stashed all over the place. And although she assumes that I have very specific dance requirements, the only requirement that I have when it comes to dancing is that I have Tristan as my partner. That man has swivel hips of sin, and therefore as long as those swivel hips are teaching these....er....spastic hips of insanity how to dance, then I'm happy. I really don't want much do I?
[Shakes] There she goes again with the tutus. My car is only so big, and unless she has inflatable tutus (similar to the inflatable coconut bra, and we know how well that worked out), she’s going to be dancing in her Daisy Dukes and tube top, which practically screams trailer trash. Is that really how she wants to present herself to His Highness? I mean really. Couldn’t she have something understated and tasteful? Why must everything be adorned with bling, feathers, and inflatable parts? But back to my dancing lessons.
I, on the other hand, no longer have discerning taste in my dance preferences. I am desperate, and desperate women take desperate measures. I want to learn to dance, and I want Tristan to be my teacher. Nobody is more determined than I am, and you should know that I’m a woman on a mission. Since my epic fail at the Cha Cha (see Part 1 of Road Trip), I am willing to tackle anything, and I will move mountains, give up Arby’s, and stick a pin in SWAT’s inflatable costumes in order to get my way. I am determined. I am strong. I am invincible. I am Woman. (yeah, I took that right from Helen Reddy’s song).
[SWAT] Shakes needs to stop frontin'. We all know she's not going to come out of her Cha Cha lesson with Tristan singing I am Woman. The real scenario here is that Shakes stumbles out of her private Tristan lesson looking a little love wonky before sprawling herself across the hood of the Puddle Jumper and soul singing (well doing her best impression of a soul singer) at the top of her lungs. “Youuuuu make me feel....youuuuu make me feel....YOU-MAKE-ME-FEEL-LIKE-A-NATURAL WOMMMMANNNNNN.” I won't, however, ever hold against our Shakesypoo. In fact, I can't promise that I'd never do that exact thing myself after my dance lesson with Tristan, only it would be me rolling around in a meadow singing At Last. It's the Tristan Effect. He has that ability to make women want to spontaneously break out in song and proclaim to the world their inner Carole King or Etta James.
[Shakes] All good points, my dear SWAT, but really now. I don’t see myself channeling my inner Carole King, nor do I see At Last as the song of choice here, as beautiful as both songs are. It is more likely that I will be doing a little hip hop to MC Hammer and You Can’t Touch This. I’m not the slow soulful type, unless of course Tristan insists on dancing slowly and soulfully in which case I’d be more than happy to oblige. SWAT, on the other hand, is more likely to exit her dance lesson in the back of a police car.
[SWAT] Um....the police car situation would never happen Miss Shakes, and contrary to popular belief I think that I would actually conduct myself very appropriately for my sexy dance teacher. Who knows if I'd actually go through with the actual dance lesson if we ever freaking get to California in the first place? I just may have to stand there in the dance studio in front of Tristan, adorned in my tutu, and I'd probably be rendered mute. I know, a shocking thought, but also a complete possibility.
[Shakes] Back to our story. This road trip will end – thankfully – when we find Tristan and he teaches me to dance so well that I’ll probably be first in line to be his celebrity partner. We will Tango and Foxtrot, Salsa and Samba, Quickstep and Jive. And that’s just the beginning. I’m going to have my own entourage – just wait and see. Not that fame will go to my head or anything. I’m fairly sure that I’m mature and can handle fame much better than the young, impressionable, and vulnerable SWAT.
[SWAT] I can handle fame. It's not like I’m going to immediately spray tan myself, put my hair in a half beehive, and try to be Snooki. It's not like I'm going to change my name to JSWAT or try to be the next Kardashian sister . What I'll be famous for, if anything, will be for bringing the tutu back into the fashion fold - and for winning Season 15 of DWTS - with Tristan of course.
[Shakes] I think SWAT has memory issues. Ms. Zumba has already forgotten that unfortunate experience, and she has forgotten that for the duration of this road trip, her hair has been in a combination beehive/bouffant/bird’s nest of the devil ‘do’ secured by up to 54,000 gallons of the best hairspray you can pick up at the vegetable and fruit stand in whatever country we are in. And yes, perhaps she will bring the tutus back into style just as I will be bringing big old 80s hair back along with my huarache sandals. Which reminds of the song by the Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA. “You see them wearing their baggies, huarache sandals toooooo……a bushy bushy blonde hair do. Surfin USA………. And you can’t touch this. Once again, we somehow managed to get off topic.
[SWAT] We do tend to get off topic, don't we, Shakes? Let's all answer one question here. What do ya'll think the reason is why we've been driving around in circles all over continental North America (and now possibly Central America) for the past week and always getting lost? Was it because we were A) Distracted by Tristan Go-Go/Disco Daydreams B) Distracted by food signs C) Distracted by costume choices D) Distracted by epic Bickerson arguments E) All of the Above?
The sad answer is E) All of the Above. And the scarier reality here just happens to be this - how in the heck are Shakes and I going to make it through one dance lesson with Tristan if we are too distracted to actually drive in the right direction toward the actual lesson venue? Even more thought provoking is that Tristan is always our #1 distraction of choice. So, if that distraction is right in front of us, in the flesh so to speak, how are we going to be able to listen to his sexy Irish Brogue, get past the fact that he's holding us close, and breathing in our faces, and manage to remember the steps? I'm a multi-tasker my friends, but this is actually starting to weigh on my mind more and more as we get closer to California. Yikes!
[Shakes] We somehow get out of the maze that is Dublin, Ohio, and I still think we were somewhere close to Bray, Ireland. The Dublins are all the same right? Just like the Paris-es. There’s the one in France, but there’s also one in Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, and Maine. But that’s off topic. Let’s go back to Dublin. There must be another one close by - - maybe we should call Tingly Wink while we’re in Paris or Dublin and ask directions. She lives somewhere close by, I think. Or maybe that was the whole Europe thing. I can’t remember.
[SWAT] Sure thing, let's go driving around to find Tingly Wink and maybe we'll actually end up in the ocean trying to get the Puddle Jumper across the pond. I could actually blow up all of my inflatable tutus and duct tape them to the sides of the Puddle Jumper....yeah, now that would be impressive. Then we could bring Tingly back with us, and her Eurpoean-ness could deflect from our “Lost and Aloof American-ness” Yeah that's it!
[Shakes] I would like to point out that our loss of direction in and around Dublin (the one in Ohio) is because the sign says “Welcome to Dublin. Home of Wendy’s.” And it had shamrocks on the sign. Then the food thing was confusing. You can’t really blame us, can you? So we hang a left and head west. Yep, we’re going to go to California and find Tristan.
[SWAT] I actually think it was the shamrocks that really threw us off course here. It's like they had special powers and we just gravitated toward them. As far as I'm concerned, if there had been a giant sign that said “Dublin Land Fill” right in front of us and had there been shamrocks adorning it, then I do believe Shakes and SWAT would be accidentally flying the puddle jumper into a pit full of garbage - Thelma and Louise style. That's how powerful the mighty shamrock is for us.
[Shakes] I’m confused. There is a Dublin in California, but also in Georgia. Uh oh. Another one in Texas. So as we headed down (or up?) to Arizona to pick up Azline Dancer who has been hanging out on the curb surrounded by the cacti and in the company of a few rattlesnakes since we left on our little journey. I stopped and stared at SWAT. It dawned on me that this whole trip has been a setup. She can’t dance with Tristan. Why, you ask? Because she has tutus. Lots and lots of tutus. Gingham tutus, sexy tutus, even inflatable tutus. Anybody with tutus is a dancer, and anybody who is already a dancer is a RINGER! I’m tired of ringers, and it is my mission to keep all ringers out of DWTS, so clearly this has to stop.
[SWAT] Me...a RINGER?!?! ~snort~ ~hiccup~ ~snort~
[Shakes] But first, “Whoa,” I said to SWAT. “What’s that thing in the road?”
She leaned forward and muttered, “Jackass.”
“What did you call me,” I snapped.
She rolled her eyes. You know, I’m getting sick of her rolling her eyes every time I say something. I’m smart. I’m mature. I am woman. Okay, so I’m sick of hearing that crap too, so I’ll change the subject.
“It’s a jackass,” she repeated.
I nodded as the light bulb finally switched on in my head. “Ah, as in “un burro.”
Her head snapped to attention. “Why do you have to go and get all intercontinental all the time? You’re always spouting off crap in Spanish or Portuguese or Italian. You got a problem with English?”
Before I could respond appropriately, she said, “Uh oh.” Her eyes widened as she pointed to the sign. “Bienvenidos a México.”
I grimaced and scratched my head. “Tenemos un problema.”
[SWAT] I don’t speak Spanish (well), but I know we’re in deep you know what…..Ka-ka maybe?
[Shakes] I always wanted to hang out with a burro, but I wish SWAT could speak Spanish without pulling out the Spanglish, but whatever. As long as we’re in Mexico, we might as well sample some of the sights. I haven’t been to Mexico in years, and I wouldn’t mind a little beach time to work on my tan. Like Tristan, I’m not feeling the whole spray tan thing, and besides, I have pasty white skin too so a little natural bronzing would be fun.
The next thing I know SWAT is hanging out with some hot surfer type swearing she was going to become a beach babe. Picture the huge, hairspray infused hair on top of her head with her on top of a surfboard. That’s bad enough but then we had another problem. SWAT lost her top while surfing in 2 feet of water, and I was ordered off the beach as soon as I appeared in a bathing suit. Life just isn’t fair.
[SWAT] Yeah, this really did happen folks, and I'm sorry that Shakes had to give you this visual. The surfer dude seemed amused but didn't offer to go swim after my top floating out into the ocean. Shakes was nowhere to be seen because apparently wearing her Sports Illustrated Dental Floss and Fabric Triangles bathing suit isn't legal for a public beach, and therefore she was escorted by a couple of beach cops in really short shorts off of the beach. And she was worried about me having a run in with the law. Sheesh. Luckily, I had another trusty tutu handy. My next invention into the new tutu fashion foray...Tutu Tube Tops. Is it a Tutu....is it a Tube Top? Right now at this very moment, it's both because I need a shirt something fierce. So there you have it. My tutu saved the day....again!
So after all of this drama and I return to Shakes, who is pouting in the puddle jumper, we decided that we better burn some serious rubber because these little detours into different countries were now becoming ridiculous. Shakes insisted that even though we had to get the hell out of Mexico that it would be fitting to listen to some Marc Anthony while we took in the scenery on our way back to the border. Shakes is my girl, and did get dissed big time by the beach po-po so I decided to be nice and oblige her. I even let her sing at the top of her lungs, while I silently obsessed more about how I was going to be able to conduct myself like a SWAT Lady when having my dance lesson with Tristan. Dare I say this....I'm getting nervous and not about not making it on time. I'm getting nervous about when we actually get there. What if I trip on the way into my lesson and fall flat on my face right there at Tristan's glorious feet? What if Tristan dips me during our lesson and I jerk myself back up and accidentally head butt him? Crap...where's the sparkly green barf bucket when you need it?
[Shakes] We decided we had better hit the road but not without rolling the windows down and belting out a few classics in Spanish – my personal favorite, Dímelo by Marc Anthony. You haven’t heard anything until you hear me sing “I Need to Know” at the top of my lungs in Spanish. Better yet, we stop at a cantina, I slip into my green sparkly MC Hammer pants (combined with the appropriate top as well, of course), and bust a move to Dímelo. I even got SWAT into the act – hey, her Spanish wasn’t so hot but she could at least carry a tune and that alone kept us from being thrown into prison. She went bold on her Hammer pants though – while mine were green and sequin-saturated, hers were fire engine red and frighteningly frightening. I think she thought she was getting ready to fight a bull and tried to transform herself into the female version of Tristan’s matador. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Between the 2 of us we looked like a scary Christmas tree on steroids. Particularly scary was her tube top that had blinking multi-colored holiday lights. I’m not sure where she found it, but, whatever…..the battery pack that she had stuck down the pack of her fire engine red Hammer pants added a nice touch too.
Back on the road.
[SWAT] The things that I do for Shakesypoo! I'm not going to go into (much) snarky detail about the fact that she likes to hate on my tutus, my giant hair with tons of hairspray, or my leopard print pants that she so lovingly threw out of the Puddle Jumper window. But SWAT and Shakes sporting some crazy Hammer pants is apparently screaming class? Who knew? I go along for the ride on this one because I love Shakes and don't want her to feel ridiculous wearing these bad boys on her own. Funny thing is, she's got the sequins all over hers but now she's making fun of my Christmas lighted tube top, and the fact that the battery pack powering it is conveniently hidden in my Hammer pants. I'm not gonna lie, the Hammer pants are quite comfortable, and they hide everything. They aren't exactly flattering but they do make everyone who wears them look like they have arses the size of Dublin (the Ohio one, of course. I wouldn't think of disrespecting Tristan's Dublin with a Hammer Pants reference.). And it's always nice to have a social equalizer. Not only that, but I can hide my wallet, keys, hairbrush, can of hairspray, and my cell phone in my Hammer pants no problem. So they work for me in their functionality.
[Shakes} I’m rethinking my costume. Does anybody remember the ancient tv show Hullabaloo? On this show from the 60s, the dancers sometimes danced in cages and wore really short dresses and white vinyl boots that hit the kneecap. Then the boots downsized to these cute little white go-go boots that went to just above the ankle and zipped up the back. (I should know. I had a pair). But they were always white vinyl and they made you look like a used car salesman in a mini skirt. That is what I am pulling out of my hat as my costume. Tristan will never have seen anything like it. Ever. We’re going to pull off a freestyle like you’ve never before seen – forget all those Tango, Foxtrot, and Samba lessons. We’re going to bring the house down with our Dancing in a Cage Freestyle suspended off the floor (but not too high – nobody needs to peek up my short dress – that would be tacky). We’re dancing to a medley of these beauties: A little jive to Devil with the Blue Dress (not to be confused with the Devil Went Down to Georgia jive) by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, a little Paso/Tango combination to Honky Tonk Woman, a few bars of the Cha Cha to Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas, followed by Hanky Panky by Tommy James and the Shondells and finishing it off with a little freestyle acrobatics (yes, in my dress), to Born to be Wild Steppenwolf and break out the really good stuff with Wipe Out by the Surfaris. Hot. Tristan in his Nehru jacket and love beads – yes, we will be children of the 60s. Of course, it doesn’t matter that this was about a hundred years before Tristan was even born….we will ignore that.
[SWAT] I will admit this. The thought of Tristan dancing with Shakes in a cage would be kind of hot. I can imagine him doing some really sexy swivel hip moves. I think it'd be hard to perform the jive in there, especially if Shakes and Tristan were trapped in that cage together, but what do I know. Tristan could probably do the jive in a port-a-potty and make it look hot. He might need a shower after that one though....ooooooooo....okay WAY off topic there. Back to our adventures before I get sent to the dungeon.
[Shakes] I think we’ve got it! We’re heading left, I mean west, which means we are going to have a Tristan sighting soon, and I’m thinking my Tristan radar is working just fine. I can smell him (not that way, people), I can sense his presence, I can just tell. My palms are sweaty, my heart is racing, and my legs are trembling. Of course, it could be because of that third venti-nonfat-vanilla-latte with 2 extra shots of espresso that did the trick.
[SWAT] As we high five our way through Nevada and somehow manage to avoid stopping to play blackjack or try out our newly-acquired skills as showgirls, we are women on a mission. We put super shocks on the Puddle jumper (it was a sight to behold), and booked it SWAT and Shakes style as we reach our final destination and roll into the parking lot whooping it up to Stronger by Kanye. Now I’m no Kanye West fan, but I like this song because it reminds me of a movie montage song where the antagonist works out and gradually transforms himself/herself into a super assassin or something similar – Shakes and SWAT style. The songs make me feel all badass when it’s blaring and Shakes I are infused with a healthy dose of confidence as we prepare to announce our presence.
[Shakes] All is well in California. We look hot in our matching hot pants and boots. We are confident in our skin – even the way too much of it that is showing. At least we left the tutus and swimsuits in the Puddle Jumper. My eyes widen as the door of the studio opens and out saunters His Hotness. Then I frown. “Houston, we have a problem. I mean SWAT.”
She looks over at me and back at the studio door, astonishment etched on her face. The door of the studio opened and His Hotness saunters out, and we realize…..we’ve been replaced!!!! What is Gladys Knight doing here?
On the road again, I can’t wait to get back on the road again….
[Shakes] These prophetic words from Willie Nelson probably don’t apply in this case because SWAT and I seem to have navigational/directional/speed issues – or at least she thinks I have speed issues because I can put Helio and Danica to shame. The truth is, however, that the puddle jumper is a beast and can get us from point A to point B in the least amount of time – without a GPS.
[SWAT] Life is a highway, I wanna ride it....all night long!!! As that early 90's one hit wonder dude who sang this song croons, Shakes and I will really be on that highway all night long, and who knows how many more nights because between her driving and refusal to let me navigate, we could be at this for weeks. But dance lessons with Tristan would be worth putting up with her over-caffeinated self through fast food stops, bad costume decisions, and unfortunate transportation choices.
[Shakes] In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “I get no respect.” But whatever. We left Florida behind us because we made a wrong turn, remember? Blame it not on a Tristan distraction this time, but a food distraction which is a regular occurrence when it comes to the Swatster and me. Since there was no Tristan distraction (she insisted that I couldn’t watch the Burn the Floor dvd while driving) we had to find something else to distract us when the puddle jumper wasn’t moving forward at warp speed. A diverse selection of delicious options were scattered along the highway (well not ON the highway itself but in little buildings alone the road), tempting us with their delicious treats. We could expose our very discerning palates to tacos, fried chicken, or Arby’s. And shamrock shakes of course. Once again, however, I digress. Since we missed the Florida classes because of SWAT’s inability to accept that tutus and/or inflatable coconuts weren’t suitable attire for a Tango, we’re off to Minnesota which I am fairly sure is next to Maine and Missouri and Montana and Mississippi. After all, they all start with an M so logic has it that they are geographic neighbors. Don’t you love how our minds work? It’s pretty incredible actually.
Ultimately, we had to downsize a little because we stopped to stock up on snacks for the trip, and therefore, the puddle jumper was on the verge of a catastrophic explosion: it was either toss the tutus out the window or toss SWAT out the window. I’m thinking the latter might be preferable, but alas, she dug in her heels and refused to leave her comfortable spot in the passenger seat. Actually, that was probably her best option because she got to hear my new repertoire of music – my new musical choices starting with the 1970s Disco Fever cd which began with a rousing rendition of I Will Survive followed by every song every recorded by K. C. and the Sunshine Band. There’s nothing like rolling the windows down and impressing everybody traveling along the interstate with “That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it…..” followed by “Shake, shake, shake….shake, shake, shake….shake your booty.” I’m still not getting why she pulled a blanket over her head and refused to bellow along when it was a given that I was going to be asked to perform live on Season 14 of DWTS – with Tristan dancing in front of me, of course. By himself. I don't know which the audience would enjoy more - his dancing or my singing.
[SWAT] I had brought my 80's Dance Fever CD along for the ride and made Shakes put it on since I had to listen to her belt out her disco stuff for longer than anybody should ever have to tolerate in this lifetime There's nothing wrong with disco of course, but she can’t sing worth a darn. Besides, I really wanted to listen to some Girls Just Wanna Have Fun because let me tell you, this wasn’t exactly fun. At least not yet.
[Shakes] Anyway, SWAT went to sleep, or maybe she was ignoring me which, of course, was entirely possible, so I made an executive decision. I was driving, and I was the one in charge, and that’s how it should be, but it became time to lighten the jumper’s load. Somewhere in a cow pasture in southern Arkansas (which is somewhere close to Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona, we assume) are her skinny leather pants that didn’t zip anyway and haven’t for a while, a blinding purple sequined tube top that is illegal in at least 12 states, a pair of leopard print leggings that made my eyes bleed, and another tutu – this time in bright yellow because she got it into her head that she was going to be following the yellow brick road and dancing in The Wizard of Oz. Don’t ask. Her mind works in strange ways. I think it had something to do with a yellow PT Cruiser she dreamed about once. Dreams are her inspiration, but that’s another story for another time. Let me explain that I told her about a dream involving Tristan, a blue kimono, and backflips, and she actually tried to explain it to me. I will never understand how her mind works.
[SWAT] I wasn't ignoring Shakes at this point. I was completely passed out after I had put a little too much Bailey's into my Shamrock Shake. It sounds like an odd combination but really, there is nothing wrong with making things a bit more Irish. Besides, it might help dull the pain of traveling with Shakes. I knew I was in for it when after finishing off half of it, I started speaking more gibberish than usual and telling Shakes that I wanted to be one of the DWTS singers, and that my first song that I was going to sing was going to be to one of Tristan's dances and that it would be “If I can't have you, I don't want Nobody Babaaay”. It was all of that disco music from earlier that had sent some subliminal message to my brain and made me think I was Donna Summer or Yvonne Elliman or whoever. That stuff gets stuck in your head. Shakes tried to convince me that was a better plan for me, so that way I would be out of contention to be Tristan's partner and therefore, she would be his best bet. She knows I can sing, while she screeches, bellows, and howls. All that Bailey’s made me kind of agree with her. I babbled on and on about how I liked her “Strateedgery” (Drunk speak for “Strategy”) and that I can belt out love songs to Tristan and she could dance with him. All the while Shakes must have been driving at the speed of light because I vaguely remember purple sequins, leopard streaks, and fluffy yellow flashes of light flying past me and out the window. “Strateedgery” indeed my clever friend!
[Shakes] She woke up just as said yellow tutu took a flying leap out the window and landed in the cow pasture and then she insisted that I part with some of my clothing items. I am a team player, but it was heartbreaking to part with my vintage 1976 bellbottoms (we’re talking wiiiiide), my tie dyed t-shirt and my collection of head bands. She also refused to let me bring along my 933 scrunchies, my huarache sandals that I’ve had since 1982, and my well-worn Pointe shoes. Well, they are technically my daughter’s well-worn Pointe shoes, but I figured I could really impress Tristan if I did a little ballet en Pointe before we rumba or tango or jive or waltz. I also brought my dancer daughter’s hip hop sneakers just in case the Pointe thing doesn’t work out. Frankly I’ve never been in Pointe shoes in my life, so there might be a little problem with it. I’m fairly sure, however, that I could do justice to hip hop. Can’t y'all visualize me getting down and funky to Mama Said Knock You Out.? SWAT put a damper on things when she insisted that nobody has said “getting down and funky” during her lifetime. Bummer. I still say that pays to be prepared for any eventuality. I like to think I’m hip and cool. Like wow, man. I am so groovy.
SWAT then not so politely pointed out to me that neither ballet, Pointe, nor hip hop are considered to be Latin or ballroom styles and that I should quit thinking I’m the next Tristan MacManus or even Tristan MacManus’s partner. According to her, “He will laugh you right out of there.” Harumph. She is just getting too cocky. I thought I looked good and had so much potential.
[SWAT] Oh Gawd, I've just come to the realization that Shakes and I have officially become on this Road Trip....The Bickersons! We are like Kurt and Anna and Tristan and Nancy, but worse!
[Shakes] We are back on the road again, but we decided to do the nice thing and head over to Arizona to pick up our ace photographer and research assistant, Azline Dancer. Big mistake. Arizona is apparently near California – Who knew? – and if we wanted to get to Minnesota/Michigan/Maine, etc. we had to make tracks. Watch out for the cacti and rattlesnakes, AD. We'll get you on the way to LA. Our intrepid reporter, Scoop, somehow managed to track down SWAT – which is interesting because neither of us have SmartPhones. Both of us insist we don’t need internet on our phones and neither of us ever have our cell phones turned on anyway. Scoop probably has magical powers or something – just like Tristan’s magical suspenders. Then she not so politely informed us that Tristan wouldn’t be teaching in Minnesota, but he was just performing and that we were idiots, and that was what she was going to put on Daily News on MML. Scoop needs an attitude adjustment. Or maybe we do. Scoop said we both need brain transplants too. What’s up with all the insults?
We were not happy. I mean the performing thing is just fine, but our mission hasn’t changed; we want Tristan to be our dance teacher. Both of us obviously have plenty of natural ability; we just need things tweaked a little. Undaunted, we continued on. How would he be able to resist us? We already have our rehearsal/teaching/performing costumes picked out.
Surprisingly, I’ve decided to go for subtle with a hint of bold. I want to learn the jive. I’m fairly high energy. After all, Ripley is always telling me to take deep breaths, and, in the words of my favorite SNL skit, she insists that I “simma down now.” I think she means I’m hyperactive or something, and I’m not sure where she gets that idea. She also left us a text with these instructions: SWAT – Get the damn gallery finished. SHAKES – Shut up and drive! Too bad we didn’t see it for another 275 miles.
I’m a wee bit hyper, a whole lot over-caffeinated, and I’m pretty sure our resident geek, CP thinks I need somebody to make me sit in a corner for about 6 days. She also said if our next blog is as long as the last one, she would have to increase the bandwidth, and then she would kick our sorry backsides and take our favorite emoticons away. Man, life is tough on macmaniacs.org. We get no respect, which is surprising since SWAT and I could probably have appeared on Dance Fever in the 80s and won the darn thing. Oh wait, SWAT was a mere infant in the 80s. Come to think of it, so was Tristan. Forget that. I could have appeared on it and won it easily, but what’s the point without Tristan. Bummer again.
[SWAT] Okay now ya'll, let's get this straight. I was a mere infant in 1980, so I would have been around 8 years old or so when Shakes and I would've taken Dance Fever to the next level. Tristan would have been maybe 5, so he might have been able to shake his little Irish post-toddler tail feather along with us. We would have totally won that competition based on the cuteness factor alone. I'm sure that Tristan at age 5 probably could still kick our butts in dancing anyway, so I'll take him on our dance team at any age. He's still “the man!”
[Shakes] I think she left me out of this little scenario. I could be the experienced older woman who danced her way into the hearts of America – or someplace – but she just kicked me right out of this fantasy.
[SWAT] But talking about the 80's with Shakes and where I was fashion-wise when I was 8 years old totally made that little SWAT fashion light bulb go off in my head. Since I pretty much dressed like Punky Brewster in the 80's, I figure why not go in that direction when we show up to see Tristan in Minnesota? Only I will be a sexier, more colorful version of Punky Brewster - bascially how Punky would dress in her 20's, because fashion trends never change over the decades, now do they? I borrowed one of Shakes' scrunchies and put my magenta hair in a side pony tail. I also cut holes in the knees of my jeans and rolled one leg of my jeans higher up than the other. Iridescent high heels should go nicely with this ensemble, and now, where's my bright purple
sequined tube top? Damm! It disappeared along with my leopard print leggings. I guess I'll have to get creative, which I know Shakesy just loves. You should have seen the look on her face when I put on my Chiquita Banana costume when we were on our way to Florida. It was so rad that she was speechless! Ah, I found my yellow sequined tube top tucked deep down in my suitcase. (I've got costume stuff hidden everywhere). All I need to do now is add my blue gingham tutu that I was going to use for my Dorothy look, and suddenly I'm the perfect version of a Punky Brewster/Dorothy/Cyndi Lauper hybrid. Sexy! How will Tristan keep his hands off of me?
Darn it. We keep forgetting he isn’t teaching in Minnesota. Oh well, he will probably be so blinded by our striking attire that he will want to dance with us right up there on stage. Or show us to the exit. That’s currently up for debate.
[Shakes] Rad? Really? And she thought I was bad with the clichés and the colloquialisms and the trendy talk. Do you know anybody who says rad or ever did? Maybe Punky Brewster, but that’s it.
Anyway, back to my excessive energy. High energy is good for the jive! All those flicks and kicks and bricks and ticks (oh wait, those last two are things to build houses with and little bugs, never mind). So the jive it will be. Now for the perfect costume. I’ve decided the jive costume that is most me isn’t the Devil Went down to Georgia devil – although SWAT calls me a devil frequently (or a demon, I can’t remember), or the knock ‘em dead in the yellow jive costume that Nancy wore. No, what is more me is Carson’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go jive in which I can wear my very own personalized cheerleader outfit and pompoms. Now Carson carried off his look beautifully, but I want more razzle dazzle and more pop without me popping a kneecap or popping out of my top. This is where I’m going to open up a can of whoop ass and bury the competition! I’m going to mix it up a bit on the costume and go with something different: I’m going bold but tasteful with none of those wimpy pastels. I’m thinking a bit of bullfighting red, blinding puce, chartreuse, bubble gum pink, tan, khaki, and olive green with pompoms in atomic tangerine. I am going to rock their socks off. Have you had enough yet? Add a touch of banana mania yellow, boysenberry, burnt orange, camouflage green, electric lime, fashion fuchsia, metallic gold, guppie green, hot magenta, lust (yes, it’s a color, I checked), mango tango, mauve taupe, psychedelic purple, and raspberry glace, and vivid cerise. I AM HERE TO MAKE A STATEMENT!!!!
[SWAT] Oh boy. So I'm not sure that everyone knows the real reason of why I call Shakes.....Shakes. Most people assume that it's just a shorter version of her full moniker, which is Shakespeare. Good guess. It seems like a natural nickname for my dear partner in crime, or you might assume that it has something to do with how she likes to show off her “special” dance moves and likes to shake her booty to disco music. Good guess again, but wrong.. I call Shakespeare, Shakes because she downs copious amounts of caffeine and therefore one would think that she always has the shakes. An even more real possibility is that she's going to be overly caffeinated when she has her dance lesson with Tristan and therefore the shakin’ booty disco dancing will unfortunately collide head-on with her caffeine shakes, and then you will really have to marvel at our Shakes. I can only imagine the look on Tristan's face now. As I always try to give ya'll teasers for our blogs and make them a mixture of “intrigue and confusion”...that is the expression that Tristan will have on his face as he watches the Disco Caffeine Queen bust a move to his instruction. Good stuff, and oh yeah...I will have the entire thing on video!
And then there’s another text from Scoop/Phantom. “BREAKING NEWS, YOU BONEHEADS! CAN’T YOU READ A MAP! AND DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN?”
I think she was trying to tell us for the 432nd time that Tristan was performing in Minnesota and not teaching and that we missed it anyway because we were just too obsessed with tutus and scrunchies and huarache sandals, and that Ripley was starting to bring out her inner b**ch because we can’t seem to do anything right. Rip said that we had better be writing a killer blog about it if we wanted to keep our high-paying jobs with benefits.
[SWAT] My eyes were glazing over, I was about to faint dead away from hunger because Shakes refused to let me have another bean burrito, and my gingham tutu was starting to wilt. A bloodcurdling scream which hopefully also took out her tonsils and vocal chords thankfully interrupted her singing. I looked over and she’s jumping up and down in her seat, her venti nonfat caramel macchiato with extra foam and an extra shot (believe me, I know the drill by now) sloshing all over the gingham. My gingham.
“What!” I snapped.
“Look!” she squealed.
My eyes widened as I took in the green sign just past the overpass. Welcome to Dublin.
I looked at Shakes and she looked at me. I caught that gleam in her eyes and knew we were in trouble. We don’t remember driving across the pond or rowing or whatever, but it looks like fate to me. I grinned and grabbed for the handle so I could hold on for dear life. “YEEHAW!” she squealed. “We’re gonna find Tristan in Dublin!”
Too bad it was Dublin, Ohio. Well, crap.
[Shakes] By the time we realized the Dublin we were cruising wasn’t in Ireland, we had missed the whole thing in Minnesota. We gassed up the puddle jumper, SWAT started crying and carrying on like a 2 year old while I took the grown-up approach and wailed, “I WANT MY MOMMY!” Blame all of this on Tristan. There are too many distractions when you plan on dancing with the King of Dance. Or taking lessons from the King of Dance. Or even being within 3,000 miles of the King of Dance. Maybe we’ll have better luck in LA.
See y'all on the flip side.
As you know, most of our blogs have been serious, thought-provoking pieces. This time we decided to up the ante a little and give you our most serious blog yet. With a little bit of fiction added in to increase the drama, we give you Part 2 of our road trip.
[Shakes] If you recall, our last blog post detailed the strenuous training that we endured in order to prepare for our “Dancing With Tristan Tour - 2012” which is how we like to refer to our anticipated road trip to Florida, Minnesota, LA, and wherever we need to go. (Yes, we realize Florida and Minnesota are past events, but consider this the prequel). Of course, after the training came the packing, which as every woman knows, is crucial to the success of any mission, um, trip. What do we need to pack for our "Learn To Dance With Tristan" road trip? Different climates require different items in the luggage, and therein lies problem #1. My car is known as a “puddle jumper”; it’s cute, but it barely fits me, one other person, and 3 or 4 bags from Target. Once I passed the required minivan stage a few years ago, I swore I would go small in transportation. That might be a bit of a problem now since we don’t know exactly how long our journey will take, but SWAT is just going to have to deal with it; besides her car is smaller than mine so that’s not going to help.
[SWAT] Might I just say that Shakes was above taking my little two door Hyundai Accent, aka
The Upholstered Rollerskate, which by the way can somehow fit, two adults, two crazy kids, and about 10 pounds of car seat crumbs in it along with luggage in the hatchback. It's almost like one of those clown cars where you can just keep piling stuff in it and it never gets completely full. But nooooo, the "Control Commodore” had to take her car which is slightly bigger, yet has that “Upholstered Baby Bootie” thing going on, but whatever, I'm game for just about anything. I live for spontaneous road trips after all. Especially ones where the destination includes a sexy Irish ballroom dancer!
Disclaimer from Shakes: I had no clue why she called my car the Upholstered Baby Bootie so I asked for an explanation. Her car is the Upholstered Rollerskate and because mine is smaller it becomes the Upholstered Baby Bootie. There is some deep stuff going on in her head that I will never, ever begin to understand.
[Shakes] There’s no sunroof, moon roof, or Pluto roof on this baby, so SWAT can just lean out the passenger window if she wants to belt out a little Air Supply to any and all passers-by. There’s another teensy little problem, however. I’m old school and don’t think I need a GPS. Mapquest will do fine, and so will my excellent sense of navigation. I should have realized there might potentially be navigational issues when I suddenly recalled the time many years ago when I was driving around downtown Indianapolis in mindless pursuit of the interstate, got lost, and drove over a hundred miles trying to get there.
[SWAT] So you know how you drive past a car and there's a dog with its head sticking out of the window, and its tongue is hanging out of its mouth, and you can tell that the dog is in complete bliss at that moment? You even find yourself going “Awwwww” because there's nothing cuter than a goofy looking dog with googly eyes, and super flappy doggy tongue smile. If you can believe it, it's not quite as cute when you've got a middle-aged chick with tornado convertible hair hanging out of a car window and trying not to swallow a bug. It just doesn't give you those warm fuzzies that a dog does - even with me singing Air Supply, which isn't my first choice of music by the way, but hey, I'm a team player, and Shakes was pretty insistent that it had to be Air Supply. I also don't have a GPS and basically have made my way across this beautiful country various times with my trusty Mapquest printout in hand. I told Shakes that I would be her navigator, but it was kind of hard to communicate with her while I was hanging shamelessly out of the window. Somehow though, even after hearing Shake's Indianapolis “500 miles of lost” story, I had no reservations about us getting from point A to point B in a timely manner. And by “timely” I mean that Shakes also drives like she's a ringer for the Indianapolis 500 winner which makes me think that we will get to our destination that much faster - if we don't die first.
Disclaimer from Shakes: It wasn’t 500 miles of lost in Indy. It was 100 miles of lost. Big difference.
[Shakes] SWAT thinks I drive like I’m in the Indy 500, but let me tell you, I’ve been to the Indy 500 (once),and Helio and the boys (and Danica) drive like old ladies compared to me in my souped up puddle jumper. I’m older now, more confident in my abilities, and I am street savvy. I am no longer afraid of driving anywhere. The only thing that scares me is the idea of SWAT’s hair becoming a receptacle for the insects that smack into the windshield and end up tangled up in the over-sized bouffant that her hair has become. The 3 gallons of hairspray she used to “secure it” made the damn beehive/bouffant a haven for critters. It is actually terrifying. She sent me a picture of the preferred hairstyle for dancing with Tristan, and I think that if she accidentally slipped, leaned forward, or breathed, her hair might seriously hurt him. Then there’s another potential problem. She’s already something like 5'8" but her hair is so big and intimidating that she’s going to tower over Tristan. by at least a foot. (Think Marge Simpson hair but not in blue. Keep reading). She finally confessed that she was going to go for the Katy Perry Grammy Awards Show look - remember the blue beehive that matched her dress? Well SWAT wants to go fuchsia. Fashionable? More like scary. I guess I’ll see how bad it is when I pick her up. Let’s just hope we don’t get pulled over for carrying excessive amounts of hairspray in the form of aerosol cans. She probably already destroyed half of the ozone layer anyway.
Anyway, back to the packing. Like everything else in my life, I approached it logically and methodically. Ask anybody. I always have a plan, so plan I did. I went with clothes that flatter my figure, which meant tons of black. I threw in my Dr. Scholl’s sandals because they are, after all, a fashionable zebra print and with their wooden soles, Tristan and anybody else in the Northern Hemisphere could hear me coming from miles and miles away (just in case they might want to run and hide). Just imagine the stir I would create with my fashionable ensemble. Oh yeah. I also packed my new bathing suit – it’s just like the one worn on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. I will look awesome. Or I will scare everybody away. Probably the latter, but the good news is that can carry a good part of my wardrobe in my left pocket with plenty of room to spare and thus, there is more room for SWAT’s crap.
[SWAT] Shakes' Sports Illustrated swimsuit was a bold move. There's nothing like making a statement at the workshop, and if pulled off correctly, it could result in more one-on-one time with the Tristanator (or perhaps prison). I told Shakes to start speaking Portuguese (she can speak every other language known to man) and tell Tristan that she's originally from Brazil and this is how people dress when they attend Samba workshops. If only she would have agreed to pair her cover model Sports Illustrated bathing suit with my hot pink legwarmers - now THAT would have been both classy and sexy!
[Shakes] Back to SWAT’s big plans. She really thinks big hot pink hair is going to impress Tristan. But forget her hair, and let’s get back to my new bathing suit. I decided to go bold bold bold. For those of you who haven’t seen this particular swimwear, google it. The issue just came out a couple of days ago, and for some stupid reason, I am the sports junkie in my family – not my husband or my son – and I am the one who subscribes to SI. Now the swimsuit Issue usually goes right into the recycling, but this time I saw the swimsuit and decided I HAD to have it because it is definitely me. You have to see it to believe it.
So as I hit the road and headed south on I-95 while dreaming of the impression SWAT and I would make in this workshop, I realized that I should stop by and get Ripley because she has a sun roof and we can hang out of it while singing the Air Supply songs (instead of SWAT just hanging out the window of the puddle jumper.) Just imagine my gorgeous voice blending with SWAT’s for real gorgeous voice in a rousing rendition of “All Out of Love” and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned because I got lost. Why, you ask? It's simple. A road moved to where it wasn’t supposed to be. I don’t need a GPS because the road somehow managed to actually move from where Mapquest said it would be, and I ended up halfway to Minnesota before I realized I was supposed to be heading south to enjoy a dance lesson or 12 with Tristan. I was also supposed to detour to pick up our bail bondsman, Scoop, just in case of the unlikely event that we might get in trouble, but I got lost again. How, you ask? Sigh. It’s a long, complicated story. I heard some guy speaking in brogue on the radio and thought it was Tristan speaking to me which meant this whole trip was our destiny. Then I saw a big billboard advertising a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake which just sealed our fate. I had to stop. I sat down and enjoyed a burger and a Shamrock Shake at McDonalds - an inevitable combination. The shake called to me from the billboard, and just ask SWAT about me and burgers. When a burger calls my name, I answer immediately. Hamburgers are my favorite food. Forget caviar, champagne, and chateaubriand. I’ll take a burger any day. But I digress (I know you’re surprised). After the burger and Shamrock Shake, you can forget about the idea of any small percentage of me fitting into that bathing suit. Of course, I probably would have been arrested anyway if I’d put it on and have to call Scoop to bail me out of jail. Maybe I’ll use it as dental floss. It’s about that size. By the way, the Shamrock Shake became our downfall, as you will soon see.
Back in the puddle jumper, I continue south, determination etched on my face as I try to find wherever it is in North Carolina, Kentucky, or Southeast Louisiana that SWAT lives. But then I discover that those 3 places are nowhere near each other so I drove around in circles until I found SWAT standing on the curb wearing a hot pink tutu and her pink legwarmers with all that hair (sprayed with aerosol hairspray and eating up the ozone layer as we speak) and causing a ruckus because some birds thought it was their nesting place. There was a more immediate problem, however, than the birds. What’s up with the tutu? We’re not going to ballet class. We’re going to learn us some Tango or Rumba or Salsa or Samba. So she promised to ditch the tutu when we got to Florida if I didn't jump out of the car first. All that pink is turning my stomach. Or maybe it’s the hairspray. I’m not sure.
[SWAT] Might I say for the record, that if Shakes gets to wear her Heidi Klum/Kate Upton Whoever Supermodel Bathing Suit, then I get to wear my hot pink tutu. There is nothing sexier than a grown woman donning a giant piece of tulle that not only shows how serious she is about ballet, but also accentuates her already voluptuous rump ( Hey-it sounds nicer than saying “fat arse”) by adding more fluff to it. I may not be able to speak Portuguese and pretend like I'm from anywhere exotic but I'm hoping that by wearing the tutu, it might add that amount of childlike whimsy that only a mother of two in a tutu can convey. The pink legwarmers are there to act as super leg bling, that is unless I loan them to Shakes to go with her HK/KU swimsuit, because she'd look superfly in that ensemble.
[Shakes] I’m not sure what she means by superfly and I’m fairly sure I could never be any such thing, but I’ll let that go because I thought her voluptuous rump comment was pretty funny, and I give bonus points for comedy. Anyway, we continue on our merry way, GPS-less, because I don’t need one. It took forever because we had to stop so many times because the tulle of Swat’s tutu kept making her itch, and she was whining incessantly. Finally she crawled into the back seat to change (nearly taking out my right eyeball when her hair smacked me – I mean that combination of hair and gallons of aerosol-propelled hairspray is lethal). Maintaining dignity at all times, she squirmed out of the tutu and tossed it out the window where it settled in proudly on my car antenna like an oversized blob of cotton candy. Fortunately, she changed into more appropriate travel wear before she got back into front seat – a fuchsia leotard to match her hair (which clashes with her hot pink legwarmers). Sigh. She just doesn’t get it. This isn’t ballet class we’re going to. On top of all that, she refused to part with the leg warmers because she was positive that Tristan would think she was just like Edyta if she wore them. I tried to tell her that leg warmers won’t make an impression, but her hair might.
[SWAT] Y’all will figure out real quickly that distractions are a big problem with Shakes and me. After the Tristan distractions - our number one distraction of choice - our second biggest distractions always have something to do with food. Exhibit A: The hypnotic, and almighty “Shamrock Shake”. This minty green bad boy comes around just once a year around the time of St. Patrick’s Day. Shakes and I saw a giant billboard for one when we were about to make our turn off of I-40 and get back onto I-95 which would have taken us straight down to the Sunshine State. We didn't make it back onto I-95 though because not only were Shakes and I looking for an exit to stop and get a Shamrock Shake, but Shakes and I were also talking about some super important stuff, like how we bet Tristan's kisses taste like a Shamrock Shake (uh oh, she was supposed to delete that part). She went on and on about the shake she had indulged in the previous day, but she was also being a brat and not taking my advice to dress up as a giant shamrock on St. Patty's day so she could really be a “Shamrock SHAKE”. Get it? She is Shakes....She's dressed like a Shamrock....She's a Shamrock Shake! Okay, well it sounded like a brilliant idea at the time, and I thought she might want to show up for our lesson with Tristan dressed like that, but she insisted on the Samba supermodel suit which was no way going to cover anything if she didn’t stop inhaling those Shamrock Shakes. But the point now is that we are somewhere in Georgia now, and lost to boot.
SWAT's note to self: The supermodel-swimsuit-made-of-miniature-bandanda-triangles-and-dental-floss-will be next to dangle from the antenna.
[Shakes] Florida – Here we Come.
[SWAT] Still lost in Georgia, we still are!! I swear, y’all, I’m ready to jump out the window and take my chances as roadkill because Shakes won’t stop belting out Air Supply followed by every song every written and recorded by the BeeGees. Now, I love me some BeeGees but hearing Shakes screech, I mean sing, trying to do a Barry Gibb falsetto is the single most painful experience of my life. I’m sure she blew out my left eardrum when showcasing her talents. Finally, I stopped being tactful and threatened to duct tape her mouth shut if I heard one more Air Supply or Bee Gees song. So what does she do as we make yet another wrong turn? She pulls out a cd and starts trying to rap along with Vanilla Ice to that cult classic. Yep. You’ve got it. Ice Ice Baby. I thought I had heard everything until she busted into “Stop, collaborate and listen!....” Oh boy. This is going to be a long trip.
[Shakes] SWAT is just jealous because I have the better outfit and shoes for our lessons, my hair is a frizzy mess of curls but at least it's not a nesting place for critters. Anyway, there’s something about being on the road and driving in circles that makes me hungry. SWAT and I are always talking food (true story) and during the course of a yahoo conversation a few nights ago when we were plotting out the blog and talking about important world political and economic issues, we ended up talking about Twitter. As you have probably noticed by now, we tend to go off-topic a lot. Anyway, I mentioned how Arby’s was recommended for me to follow on Twitter, which I found kind of funny – all these dancers, sports figures, writers, and Arby’s. And then it dawned on me. Arby’s! As usual, we blurted out simultaneously (it’s kind of creepy how we think the same things at the same time), “I WANT A BEEF AND CHEDDAR WITH ONE ARBY’S SAUCE AND ONE HORSERADISH SAUCE.” Yep. That’s what happened. So do you see where this is going?
[SWAT] Here we go again with the food distractions, but this pit stop at Arby's was vital. It's true, Shakes and I share a common brain stem and therefore this anomaly of us liking our Beef and Cheddar sandwiches exactly that same way was the morale booster we needed to get back on track. So what if we had gone 300 miles in a complete circle, staying the entire time in Georgia? So what if we had a few mere hours to get to the dance workshop where I would undoubtedly meet my secret Irish boyfriend, at least we had a savory Beef & Cheddar Sandwich with 1 and 1. And that was what was going to fuel us to get back in the right direction. Well maybe....
[Shakes] Oh crap. After our delicious sandwich indulgence, I remembered we were supposed to swing over to Arizona to pick up our research assistant, Azline Dancer. That’s close, right? SWAT made a few calls, and we discovered Arizona is nowhere near Florida or Georgia. Uh oh. So we’ll swing by and get her on the next leg of our trip. What’s the big deal? At least we were in Florida, and how long could it take to get from where we were in Florida to where Tristan was teaching classes? Florida isn't that big, is it? Then things got interesting. Somewhere along the way, SWAT changed into something that made her look like Carmen Miranda. She insisted on showing me up in her custom-designed Samba gear, and when I asked where it came from, she said she knew it would never fit into my car because it was like 3 feet tall, so she got inflatable fruit and I had to sit and watch her blow the darn thing up. Now this fruit monstrosity on her head looked ridiculous, but this Samba dress (if you can call it that) she insisted on wearing was enough to blind anybody – lime green, neon orange, and the yellowist yellow you can ever imagine. And the feathers? I didn’t know how many living creatures gave their lives to make that outfit, but I was sure several species were endangered. I felt a little better after she said that she would never harm a living thing so she had bought the feathers at Wal-mart and then super-glued them to make her costume. It got worse when she inflated some coconuts to make her coconut bra. Good grief. When I asked why, she said she couldn’t help but remember the Foxtrot and the coconuts and Sir Spamalot. I decided to humor her because I knew I was going to steal the show and be the one getting all the attention because I wasn’t afraid to show a little skin while she was covering up everything. In theory, anyway. I don't think that head + Marge Simpson hair in fuchsia + inflatable fruit is even going to make it in the door.
I still had lots of problems with the coconuts, and I tried to be logical with SWAT. I stared at her in disbelief when I should have been driving. She glared at me and snapped, “WHAT? I just wanna be in character.”
“What character?” I asked. “What if you’re dressed up as an inflatable Carmen Miranda and you don’t dance the Samba? You can’t Tango in coconuts – you do and you’re gonna pop them and then where will you be? Jail. That’s where. And your bailbondsman, Scoop, isn’t here to save you, and I'm not bailing you out!"
She yelled, “Well, you threw out my tutu!! What else am I going to wear?” Patience. Give me patience.
But things got even more weird. When I took my eyes off the road to yell at her about inflatable coconuts, we missed an exit, and when we pulled up in front of the studio where Tristan was supposed to be teaching, it wasn't the studio where Tristan was supposed to be teaching, SWAT smacked me in the head, and started screeching at me. Again. We had turned left instead of right and were now back in Georgia. Uh oh. Well, that’s okay. There is still Minnesota. Isn’t that somewhere near Arizona or Michigan? I am not getting a GPS.
Stay tuned for our GPS-less Road Trip Part 3 coming soon to a blog near you.
Instead of listening to SWAT and I blither on, we have a special treat for this blog. Our new member, Elsa, took several classes with Tristan and Lacey when they were in Florida a couple of weeks ago. We are going to live vicariously through her as she tells us her story! (My apologies, Elsa, if I edited too much to fit the blog format. It was unintentional).
Private lesson. It was hard to think of which dance to ask to work on. I didn't want to be "exposed" like the time Nancy refused to do the steps so he could watch. I'm slow learning steps on a good day and figured I'd be nervous so I picked a slow one, in hold. I'd been in a Dancesport competition (very beginner!) in November and remembered that I liked Tango a lot, had the least training in it, and the hold was the most secure, meaning that I had the least trouble following. At least that's what I thought, lol. It turns out that the whole time we ended up working on getting me to follow without trying to lead or anticipate the next step! I told him I wanted to work on the posture and stylization, which we did at the start, but that was just a few minutes, but it was pretty wild!
He told me about the Argentine prostitutes and the smelly gauchos (cowboys) and that's why the woman's head is leaned away from the potential customer. He told me to imagine that the guy is trying to come in for a kiss (and he demonstrated!) and not wanting that, I'd lean my face away. When I'd forget during the dance, he'd move his face really close to mine and breathe on my face. He said another reason was she was always looking for another guy who might have more money and be a better prospect. He also told me about the connection in the lower half of the body. The woman isn't fond of the guy but wants the money, so the look isn't one of disgust - it's just serious or stern and not happy about the smell.
Now the hold: He told me to squeeze his left leg between my two legs and keep one foot between his feet - and that was more or less the way to do the entire dance. That was easy and why the hold is the easiest - how can you move when the side of your pelvis/belly is pressed up against somebody and your leg is between his? Then we started to do steps without music, and I had a devil of a time following! I didn't know I was so bad, sheesh. He would do weird stops when I didn't expect them and I'd almost always take another step with my foot instead of just stopping in place. I think I finally get it NOW but that doesn't do me any good, lol. Well, it does - it's still my favorite dance because the music is so dramatic and you can "act" a more interesting kind of role than the others, at least in my opinion. He asked me in the middle if I needed a drink of water, and I said, 'No, do you?" and he said no - but I wonder if he was tired. He'd been doing back to back private lessons since getting there the day before. Getting there early for fear of not finding the place, and staying because I had a group lesson with him coming up - I saw him coach several others: a couple who were in the DWTS-type show doing foxtrot or something and the man's posture was atrocious - a near-pro couple working on rapid spins and he was helping the guy hold her hand just right so she could twirl a lot of times - a couple who were already good at East Coast Swing but he showed them how to really get down with it with a whole lot of energy. When you see the photos, I'm the woman in her 50's wearing a long-sleeve black lace top and black trousers. The studio owner told me to dress up a lot which was not the extra pressure I needed lol - and most people were not dressy of course but that should be in the "after party" section.
Anyway, Tristan was extremely sweet and patient and very focused. At the beginning, I could tell he didn't waste much time talking - so I caught on to that pretty fast and didn't say a lot about me or what I wanted to do with dance, etc., but I did tell him I'd done lessons about 12 years ago and quit when we moved to Ireland and that my husband taught at DCU. He said, "I bet he knows a lot of my friends there." And that was really the extent of any "personal" chit chat. I didn't ask him any questions about DWTS or anything else, other than about the dance.
Oh yeah, one more thing: I had SO much trouble following and STOPPING when he did, he finally told me to close my eyes while we danced (or did steps.) He said dancing is only when you have MUSIC. Anyway, the owner/photographer later told me he had a lot of pictures of me but in many of them my eyes are closed - well that's why! And at the studio dance after the private/groups lessons in Panama City, I got to dance the tango with one of the pro's, and it DID feel better than it had before and the pro complimented me (well, duh, of course he would), and I told him I'd worked with Tristan on it, and he said, "I saw that!" I think the whole staff was watching, but I wasn't aware of it. And strangely, I don't even remember what Tristan said all that well, I was concentrating so hard on trying to do it right, and I
was pretty hopeless. Anyway, I wish I'd been outfitted with a hidden tape recorder!
Now I remember another detail - the man with the atrocious posture - Tristan was really cute when he demonstrated what the guy was doing wrong. I saw him do that with others too. He'd hunch over, lift his shoulders up way too high, move too fast and get off balance and almost fall forward onto the girl, etc., to show the guy what he was doing wrong - I only saw him do this with guys I think. Though once during his practice with me, he played the woman's part to show me how I was too stiff in leaning back and how hard that made it for me to move him around. So I think he demonstrates a lot by doing the wrong stuff himself - whether it's the guy's or girl's part. I told him I sometimes end up yanking the guy where I want to go - and I did it to him some - and he said everybody does that, even the pro women.
Tristan's Group Lesson in Ft. Walton Beach. This was the first time that I saw Tristan in person. His group class was before Lacey's, at 6:15pm. The weather was horrible for most of the day, tornado warnings and bad thunderstorms, but it cleared up before I had to go to the class. The airline had lost Tristan and Lacey's luggage (they were picked up at the airport in Ft. Walton around 10 or 11am, but he had it the next day.
He said he was going to work on Cha Cha. I met Shannon there so it felt good to have a friend along for this first foray into dealing with tv celebs! I didn't think I'd be nervous and I wasn't really but it was exciting. The nervous part was finding the studio and waiting for everything to finally commence. Anyway, I felt really happy he did Cha Cha because I've studied it the most and felt really comfortable and confident with it. He did the basic, New Yorker, spot turns, then faster and faster. There were a lot of people there, maybe 30. He said he was going to pair us up later but then he never did.
Instead at the end, he decided to teach both parts of a bit of choreography. The girl takes two steps away from the guy, does a pivot (complete turnaround), walks back towards him and does some stuff. Then he did the guy part which I don't remember as well but a bit simpler - the guy follows and pulls her back. He said what often happens is he has to sort of yank the woman who's just going to keep on walking away, too far. It was funny how he demonstrated that he has to grab her arm and yank her back. He explained that it was important, especially if you get deeper in dancing, to learn both parts, and that he himself had once said, "I'm not learning the girl's part. I'll never do that so why should I learn it?" But he said you can't be as good at dancing if you don't know ALL of it - so he had all of us do both parts.
The time was up really fast and he went to shower while Lacey's class took place, which I'll write up separately but it was West Coast Swing and really really HARD. She went fast, taught a LOT of steps and I never really nailed the FIRST one, a "Sugar" something. He came back out, all changed from his sweaty white low cut t-shirt to a long-sleeve striped one. Anyway, he stood around watching us finish up the WCS class - and he was close to me and I looked at him and said, "She's tougher than you are!" And he sort of emphatically said, "I knowww!"
He was incredibly sweet when Lacey's class ended while taking photos with people. I had a couple made but look horrible, sweaty and disheveled after two group dances, and I look pretty awful in photos made when I'm fresh. He spent time talking to a few people - I wish I could remember what I talked to him about, but anyway, I introduced myself and said a few little things, and I started to leave (as my friend and others stayed behind to talk some more) and he kissed me on the cheek! He's just so open and friendly to people - so unlike any celeb I know of. Lacey was friendly but you could tell she put more distance between herself and fans than he does. He responds to you like you're a regular person - but even nicer. Oh I don't know how to explain it but he's incredibly warm, generous and open. I worry that he's maybe too much that way - and gives too much of himself to people and it'll wear him out or hurt him in some way, but oh well, who am I to even have an opinion... He's just so incredibly sweet. I can easily see why Sasha Farber says "Everybody in the world loves Tristan." How can you not?
Anyway, after he kissed me, I said, "I'll see you tomorrow." And he looked surprised and taken aback, sort of said, "OK!" And smiled. I think I said I'd be in Panama City. I'm pretty sure I was the only one who went to both places for classes but his group class in PC was never even advertised online! No wonder he was surprised. Another embarrassing moment but heck, if you drive 4 hours and get a hotel, etc., and there are two days of classes and a big show (and I didn't know he was doing a class on the middle day till the last minute), well, it just seems silly to not do everything. And boy, I did!
Well, that was the first group class. He had done private lessons from the time he arrived - a lady who worked there said he had only one private lesson open and it was during Lacey's class which I'd already signed up for so I figured I just wouldn't get one. Little did I know that there would STILL be an opening the next day in Panama City for a private lesson - I didn't even call them to ask until nearly 1 pm and they had ONE opening, at 4:45. I truly expected all the classes to be taken so I was almost terrified/disappointed when they said come on down! But now I'm glad I did it. You only live once!
Tristan's class in Panama City. This was at 6:30 before Lacey's class. Tristan had told me after my private lesson he was thinking of doing Cha Cha again and I said that was fine with me because I had a Cha Cha competition in my hometown in Feb. He said he would add some Samba - and he did. So we did the same steps as in Ft. Walton but it seemed a good bit faster. It was a smaller class - maybe 12 or 15 - and the male pros from the studio were in the class so that was nice.
I really loved the Samba part because I've never had a single lesson in Samba and it's really fun - and easier than I expected, getting the bounce and the hips in a figure-8 sort of motion. It made me want to take Samba! Later, Lacey made fun of Tristan and said she was doing Samba but instead of just doing "school figures", she was going to make it fun. She looked over at him and said, "Sorry - you know I love you" or something like that. He was giving a private lesson behind our group class the whole time.
He got a bit more into style - and said women should do the steps differently than the guys. He lifted up his heel and said to step somewhat like that because it makes your leg look better - and that's why when women try on shoes and look at their lower leg in the mirror, they'll lift their heel up. Guys, he said, should do more of a stomp than a lift up of the heel, as they do the steps. He also said the girls can sort of play with their skirts or do some other flirty moves, to get into the playful sexy character of the Cha Cha. When he was talking about the Samba, he mentioned how you needed to think about Carnival in Brazil with lots of chest shimmying and rhythmical bouncing and sexy hip movements. I had another embarrassing moment during his class - I had my pantyhose pretty much attached at the top - (I had a knee length dancing asymmetrical skirt on) and everything stayed up and was fine during the private lesson, but somehow, during the group class, my pantyhose starting sliding down my hips. I was on the back row and sort of hoisted my skirt too much to pull them up, and Brian, the owner/ photographer guy said, "Hey - I'm filming!" So sheesh, I hope he edits that out!
Before the class, Tristan had been really really sweet to a young girl by signing the picture she brought, and at the end of her lesson, he picked her up and swung her around a couple times, after bending down and sort of playing with her by spinning her or something, like they do in Cha Cha. Then he stayed after, maybe 20 minutes, talking to her and her family. It was so sweet. Like I say, you just have to love the guy! I was impressed at how much he seemed to really care.
The "Show." There was a 3 hour show in the Martin Theatre in Panama City. The first dance was Tristan and Lacey doing a sexy rumba - and the last was them doing a really fast jive. I was fiddling with my camera, and I regret that because I don't remember the dances very well and wish I'd just watched instead of trying to take pictures.
Tristan and Lacey acted as judges for the 4-local-celeb competition and the MC asked which judge they were most like. Lacey spoke up first and said, "Len." Tristan sort of acted like he didn't want to say - and the MC said, "You must be like Bruno, then" to Tristan - who didn't seem too happy with that but hey, it was Bruno or Carrie Ann at that point.
Their comments were very kind - and they gave one woman a 7 because she didn't smile (and though it probably had nothing to do with her lowest score, she was wearing a thong with her entire behind showing so I don't think that helped her cause!) Another woman, mom of 2, did a Cha Cha and did really well and got a 9 - Lacey said, "You're one hot mamma." The 60 year old guy who went first did fine: it was a cute and simple rendition of the Pink Panther and he got an 8; and the last guy was a local favorite, an enormous fellow - maybe 6'6" and 300 pounds, and he did a dance full of lifts and got a 9. Tristan said, "You're a great big bloke...who knows how to work a room." And Lacey pointed out that he was light on his feet (uh, considering.) At the end, applause determined that the winner was the "hot mamma" who did the Cha Cha, but it was close between her and the huge guy. Tristan got up to sort of MC before the intermission and said he hoped there were no boyfriends or husbands who were going to smack him for criticizing the women (though I don't remember any criticism other than one not smiling enough. He'd even said he'd give her outfit a 10.)
There were quite a few children and Tristan was really supportive of them - for one girl doing a hip hop thing, he came out on stage and was applauding, smiling and laughing while she did her number. This thing was longgggggg - about 3 hours - but it was great. At the end, everybody came out for bows, but Tristan went behind everyone and Lacey followed him - so that was very sweet, since they were the star attractions.
The After Party. There was food but not a lot. Tristan and Lacey got theirs and went to a more private room than the big hall. The MC's parents were there from Dublin (looked to be in their 70s - there's a picture of Tristan hugging the mother on his FB fanpage.) My guess is he ate with them because he promised them at the show they'd talk later. At some point, we heard he and Lacey were doing pictures in an adjoining room and people lined up for that. Not long before they left, they came into the main hall, near the bar, and I think that's when the Motley Crue guy got his picture made with Tristan. Soon they were asking for their driver because they had to be at the airport the next morning at 6 am or so, and it was already about 11:30.
Lacey's Group Classes. The first was West Coast Swing and oh mercy, was that HARDDDDDDD! I had tried WCS in a class once before and it was the hardest thing I ever tried to learn! Anyhow, she would show a step, have us do it twice or so, then move to the next step - maybe 6 or 7 in all, and then she had us pair and change partners a lot, and that was fun, but I don't think I got much right. It didn't seem to matter, the people I danced with were all sweet and most of them didn't know how to do it right either.
Lacey explained that WCS was invented for sailors on ships because you stay in a straight line. She said her daddy actually sort of "ruined" the character of the dance by adding a lot of more fun things to the basic WCS. Lacey's an extremely energetic, alert, quick-to-react teacher. Amazing really. Her strength is her speed, quick reactions, sort of pushiness and willingness to be very playful, even teasing a bit, and ever anxious to keep things moving and different and exciting. I watched her teach a hip hop class to kids and she was really good in that. (Tristan's a fantastic teacher too - more patient and watchful - gentler - not as "wired" and serious and careful to make things clear and repeat enough that most people got it - he really knows this stuff in and out - and so does Lacey.)
Since we'd just done Samba with Tristan, Lacey spiced it up and had the women doing boob punches or whatever you call it where you jut your chest out quickly over and over - then whole body shimmies - and also she had us draw our hands up over the sides of our bodies as we moved our hips. Oh it's hard to explain but she tried to get us to make it more like a "show" number where you're acting as sexy as you can for the audience - and she picked on Tristan who was behind us, doing a private lesson, for making it boring by just teaching "step by numbers figures". But heck, how could you add the flourishes if you didn't know any of the basic steps that he'd just taught us?
I'm sure she was just teasing and having lived in Ireland and travelled to a dozen countries or so, I've never seen any people who tease each other more than the Irish, so I'm sure he wasn't bothered, but she did mention it more than once - that he'd done it the "boring" way but we were gonna have FUN!!!!!!! darnit. She ever gathered us around for a little lecture of sorts saying that you MUST MUST MUST let go and have fun dancing. A fair amount of psychology in that little talk about freeing your spirit and dancing for the LOVE of it and not just to be doing something "right". I really liked it - but it was quite different than the WCS. Maybe because Tristan had just taught the basic steps anyway so she was able to continue into stylizing and stuff - when with WCS she had to get us able to do ANYthing.
MISCELLANEOUS - During our private lesson, Tristan said the guy should adjust his hold DOWN to fit the lady - and lower his arms and I shouldn’t have to reach up (I'm 5'1" or so). I told him my left arm couldn't reach his back, in that weird flat-hand Tango way the woman holds her left hand, but he said just try - often your hand won't reach all the way to the guy's back.
Tristan is very serious and careful - I guess I'd call it, though I was serious and shy - I think he reacts to the person and gets on with things, not taking control to goof off or anything - just gentle, shy, not pushy or a domineering personality though he's got a quick wit and a very playful side. And he's the sweetest person I think I've ever met - even with perfect strangers/fans.
In the first place, Ft. Walton, during his Cha Cha class, someone asked about Lacey - he said, "Well, I guess she's gone home" and he laughed. In the second group class (Panama City) he emphasized the difference between the girls and guys' parts of Samba (so did Lacey.) Girls are frillier, more shimmying, less stompy. He said to keep my upper body like a mannequin and don't bend it, so that it's easier for the guy to lead. I kept trying to take extra steps and he said EVERY step I take should have a signal from the lead. I had trouble figuring out if I should take a side step or a back step - and he stepped on my foot several times but he's good at dancing and it didn't really hurt. I probably stepped on his but I don't remember that.
He said he always tries to tell a "story" with his choreography .
Thank you, Elsa, for sharing your story with us!!!! Most of our members know this, but if you haven’t seen the photos on the Fred Astaire Dance Studio Panama City facebook page, be sure and check them out. There are so many wonderful photos of the show and after party available. We will also be posting some of Elsa's personal photos in our gallery within the next few days. Enjoy!
After careful consideration, SWAT and I decided that we need to follow Tristan’s tour bus around the country and revert back to the years when we were young and carefree (that means no kids or husbands) and take classes wherever he teaches. That way we can get backstage passes (okay, so maybe there’s no such thing) but we could at least become experts at dance. We would then fight over which one of us might be more likely to become his celebrity partner on Season 334 of DWTS (that’s how long it would take us to become passable dancers). We haven’t figured out yet how to be celebrities, but we’re hoping that this blog will bring us fame, fortune, and the chance to duke it out over being Tristan’s partner on DWTS. I guess you could call it the SWAT and Shakes Smackdown.
Our original plan for the blog was to share our really bad poetry with you – all Tristan-related and composed recently. On a Friday night not too long ago we were absolutely clueless about the next blog (more so than usual), and in a burst of creativity, we wrote some poems that we intended to publish in blog format. Unfortunately, when we read them the next day, the poetry was so horrible that we shelved it temporarily and wrote the Dangerous blog instead. Then there was the suggestion that we write about our imaginary trip to Florida in pursuit of Tristan, followed by trips to Minnesota, LA, and wherever the urge (or Tristan) takes us. Since it’s all utter nonsense anyway, we decided to treat you to a series of our ‘on the road’ adventures, however, before we attempt to go on the imaginary road and learn to dance from Tristan, we realized that we had to go into training. After all, we’re not just following him just to follow; we’re following him to dance. This is where we made our first mistake.
The following paragraphs chronicle what happened when we went into training. I (Shakes) was presented with a gift of a Cha Cha class at a local dance studio where I was promised (by my friend, not the studio) that I could master the Cha Cha in something like 90 minutes; SWAT tried to show off her strength and stamina and took a Zumba class. Both of these endeavors showcased our extraordinary talents for dance and our unbelievable skill level. All of those rumored celebrities for DWTS had better watch out because we have this. Really we do. Just wait until you hear about it. Oh, by the way while the rest of the series is pure, unadulterated fiction, the part you are reading below is absolutely, mostly true so try not to be astonished by the visual. And we would appreciate it if you don’t laugh at us.
First of all, let me clarify that I will never be classified as a “ringer” when I make my first appearance on DWTS. There will be no outrage, no blogs blasting me for having “previous dance experience”, nor will anybody ever post on the ABC message board that I “clearly had years and years of ballet”. Nobody is going to compare my thighs or hips to Peta’s because let’s face it, nobody looks like that except Peta and no thighmaster is going to help make my anything look like that. I was considered a decent dancer in eighth grade when I could dance shrink-wrapped around my boyfriend while slow dancing in the school cafeteria among the crepe paper streamers. I even hit the discos and clubs in platform shoes, big hair, and mini-skirts. Yes, it was hot. You don’t need any more of the visual to get the general idea of my overall dance experience. I am also no athlete; suffice it to say that my one attempt at skiing ended up with me in a thigh to ankle cast because of a dislocated kneecap, and the one time I tried ice skating, I spent more time on my backside than on my skates. Dance was clearly my thing. I loved it (watching it mostly), and I was pretty decent at weddings and bar mitzvahs. I could feel the music. I understood the music. After all, I had rhythm; I assumed that 12 years of piano lessons took care of that. I did take a couple of group salsa classes a few years ago, and as long as I stood in the back and danced with the guy who also had two left feet, I was pretty good. I could shimmy with the best of them, and I wasn’t a complete klutz. Nobody’s toes were broken because of me, and I didn’t throw out my back, hip, or kneecap or anybody else’s, for that matter.
Knowing my thoughts about DWTS, a good friend decided to give me two special presents for my birthday (we’ll just say it was my 30th. That’s a lie). One gift was a hand massage, and that’s a story for another time. SWAT knows the story, but I’m not sharing it without drinking a lot of margaritas. The other was a Cha Cha lesson because after Week 1 of Season 13, I decided that the Cha Cha was the best dance ever created, and I had to learn it. I was a natural Latin dancer. It’s in my blood. I was born in a Spanish-speaking country, I speak Spanish, I watch Telemundo whenever possible, and I love, love, love Latin music. I can even sing the perfect Cha Cha song - Marc Anthony's I Need to Know in Spanish. (By the way, it's called Dímelo.)
All of this has to make me a natural. Obviously. I told my good friend that I wanted a teacher just like Tristan MacManus. It was for my birthday after all, and I had bought her some really nice perfume for her birthday which was a couple of weeks before mine. Therefore, I assumed she would find me a teacher just like Tristan MacManus.
How hard could the Cha Cha be? I’m reasonably fit - reasonably being the operative word. I walk every day; I ride the stationary bike almost every day. I take the steps always. I walk instead of driving. Now I’m not 30 but I’m not 93 either, and I’ve watched DWTS. The Cha Cha doesn’t seem that hard to me; it didn’t look that difficult on television. Nancy looked great doing it; so could I.
As soon as I stepped into the studio, I knew I was in trouble. First of all, I outweighed my instructor by a good 25 pounds. Maybe 35. He was also approximately 12, and he was no Tristan MacManus. No bedhead, no sexy clear blue eyes, no sexy stubble. This dude had slicked down hair parted on the side, beady little eyes that practically snarled at me, and I don’t think he had hit puberty yet, so shaving any stubble wasn’t an issue. Then I focused on his size again. All I could think of was that I had never seen any lifts in a Cha Cha and was praying he’d seen the same Cha Cha I had because if that little dude tried to lift me, we would be talking hernia. (Him, not me).
So here’s the thing. Mr. Nasty Cha Cha Teacher Who Still Hadn’t Gone Through Puberty immediately started frowning at me. “NONONONONO,” he insisted. “Your hips are all wrong.” Yeah, well, I kind of knew that. First of all, they’ve delivered a bunch of kids, they don’t fit into a size 4 anything, and they also don’t move the way they are supposed to in the Salsa Clubs of Havana or Buenos Aires or San Juan. They. Do. Not. Move. That. Way. When he stood in front of me and demonstrated and told me to keep my eyes on his hips, I almost puked. Reality sucked. Those hips didn’t even come close to doing what I saw Tristan do on Dancing With the Stars when the ‘should have won an Emmy for cinematography’ camera guy focused on Tristan. The reality was so much worse than the fantasy.
Then he stopped, turned around, started huffing and puffing and pointed at my feet. I stopped, glared, and looked down at my feet. “What?” I snapped. “Some Tristan MacManus,” I muttered under my breath. “Point your toes. You have to point your toes,” he practically screeched at me, almost sounding like SWAT when I tell her she can’t go “there” in the blog. Anyway, I guess I didn’t point them to his satisfaction because he knelt down at my feet (exactly where any man should be, I might add but then this was no man), grabbed my foot, twisted it and then forced my toes into a position that would have brought a weaker woman to tears. Instead, I just wanted to kick him. I might have. I don’t remember.
Then he pulled a Tristan MacManus. Yes, he did. Now I wouldn’t have minded it had it been Tristan MacManus putting his hands on me to push my shoulders back and my chin up. But this infant was no Tristan and a 12 year old dance instructor poking and prodding at me is not my idea of a good time. So I closed my eyes and tried to imagine that it was Tristan pushing my shoulders back and tilting my chin up, but then The Dance Instructor From Hell spoke in a whiny little high-pitched annoying voice that was nothing like an Irish brogue. He sounded just like everybody else in Jersey but worse. HE SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS 12.
The minutes seemed like days, and I knew I just wanted to go home and watch you tube videos of Tristan dancing, but no, I was stuck there to the amusement of my former best friend who caught the whole thing on video. Instead of step step cha cha cha , I was doing the one two trip trip NO. The next time it was step step ouch, stop, NO. Then step step, D**n, S**t, D**n. You get it. It was not going well (I assume it’s because he wasn’t Tristan because we know Tristan can teach anybody to dance). Then he said that I was supposed to flirt and do a slow, slow, quick, quick, slow – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow thing or some such nonsense, but I couldn’t get him to understand that I do everything at one speed. Aaaaargh. Hold your torso still, move those hips. Roll ‘em! I WAS ROLLING THEM! THEY DON’T ROLL ANY OTHER WAY!
Let’s just say that my Cha Cha to Cry Baby had everybody crying, including me. I suck. I’m going to have to work on the Cha Cha before taking it up with Tristan. I’m thinking the Tango might be more my speed – all that up close and personal stuff with a big strong Irish dancer sounds a whole lot more appealing.
It's a funny thing. Once you realize that there is a possibility that you will be attending a dance workshop instructed by the most gorgeous dude on the planet, Tristan MacManus, then the ideas start to flow. Some good, some not so good. One of our more brilliant ideas was for each of us to get ourselves into prime dancing condition. Shakes decided to take a Cha Cha class (no doubt she chose this style so she could relive the fantasy of dancing with Bentley Bumtapper in his dangerously delicious boyfriend suspenders), and I, in my most infinite wisdom thought it would be fantastic to start taking Zumba. For those who don't know what Zumba is, it's a combination of aerobics and Latin dance, all rolled into one giant burrito that gets your ass into shape really quickly. It seemed like a really good idea at the time.
Now I'm a tad on the stubborn side when it comes to admitting that I'm not a professional anything, let alone a professional athlete or dancer. I always assume that I'm going to be fantastic at whatever I'm about to try. Rock climbing? Too easy. Skiing? Child's play. Who cares if I am afraid of heights or if I once took out a line of innocent skiers as they waited for the chair lift? I was eager to meet the challenge, so why should Zumba be any different? After all, I was Drew Middle School's Electric Slide Champion, circa 1993. I was also the First Runner-Up in the Stafford High School's Macarena Challenge of 1995 so I was pretty confident to say that when it came to my chances with Zumba, I got this!
I sauntered into the Zumba Room at my local gym this past Friday like I owned it. All of the more in-shape ladies in their spandex and halter tops were standing in front, and all of the more **cough** normal looking people (like me) are cleverly situated in the back of the studio where they couldn't be seen. Of course I'm not going to conform. If these skinny chicks think they can dominate this Zumba class, then they have another thing coming. I, the Queen of the Electric Slide, am going to school them in the art of Zumba and do it during my first class. I made the wise decision to plant myself right next to a girl that likes Zumba. And when I say that she likes Zumba, I mean she REALLY likes Zumba. She's enthusiastically clad in a Zumba Brand workout shirt, a Zumba brand sweat band, and placed a few feet in front of her is her Zumba brand water bottle no doubt filled with a combination of water and electrolytes. She's the one who comes to every single class and inserts that rather loud and annoying, high pitched “Whoo!” in the middle of a routine just when everyone is about to keel over, foolishly thinking that it motivates people. Yeah...she's THAT chick, and I stood right next to her with a “Can-Do” attitude and hot pink leg warmers of death. (By the way, I was going for an Edyta Sliwinska look and ended up more with a Mike Catherwood look.) I also had in hand a bottle of blue sports drink that I remember seeing Tristan drink during Week 6 . Hey, if Tristan drinks it, then it must be some sort of magical, hydrating dance elixir.
The Zumba instructor finally enters the room and suddenly my inferiority complex begins to rear its ugly head as Karina Smirnoff Jr. struts in and gives a knowing wink to the overly tanned, blonde Zumba freak next to me. My small moment of inferiority then turns into smugness and I'm now bound and determined to beat this chick. Some perky Samba music starts blasting and away we go. The first few minutes were exactly what I expected with a bunch of repetitious side steps and a few easy hip rolls thrown in for good measure. Oh yeah, this was going to be a breeze, and I started fantasizing the very moment when Tristan would point his finger at me out of everyone in his upcoming dance workshop and say “ Her. She's the one that I want to dance with, that Zumba prodigy!”. Well, that's what he would have said if I wasn't such a poser in real life. Ah yes, the wonderful stench of my own conceited ignorance was about to get stinkier my friends. Suddenly the easy hip rolls, turned into supersonic jiggly bootie pops and 360 degree leaps accompanied by Jackie Chanesque dance kicks. These aerobic combinations not only became more intricate but they never stopped! So now, I'm starting to panic, and I suddenly transformed into a grossly out of shape version of the Energizer Bunny who was about to blow a fuse. It wasn't that my footwork was all that awful, I was grasping the movements and trying valiantly to do a higher Jackie Chan kick than Zumba Freak next to me, even if I was about to pull a hamstring. The problem here is that Zumba was beginning to kick my giant, overly confident arse. I kept up with the music trying not to think about how certain I was that this class was definitely going to end my life. I was gasping for air but didn't want to show it. Still the dances kept going, one after another with a measly 30 second break in between. I watched as Karina Jr. bounced around and barely broke a sweat, and the rest of the normal girls in the back were leaning on each other and guzzling their water as if they had just trekked through the Mohave desert. I lunged for my Magical Blue Tristan Sports Drink, and basically inhaled it. Drat...it was just regular sports drink. I was toast!
The next song began and the same ridiculously fast choreography became even more ridiculously challenging. As the possibility of me collapsing in front of everyone, and being too broken to make it to our first destination of the epic Shakes and SWAT Road Trip 2012, my thoughts turned to Tristan. There was no way around the truth of the fact that Tristan is a dance god. Like Apollo or Zeus or one of the big dudes on Mount Olympus. Here I was struggling not to have a stroke while doing one stupid aerobics class, and our mighty Tristan could make it through a showing of Burn the Floor where he dances endlessly for two hours straight. There is something amazing and unnatural in his stamina, and therefore I'm sure celestial powers are involved. Either that or Tristan's Blue Sports Drink, indeed does have magical powers. Tristan also looks fabulous covered in glistening sweat, where as I'm sure I looked more like a clunky bull in heat. Please Tristan, do your Paso magic and put me out of my misery.
So did I in fact make it through the entire Zumba class without passing out? Barely. As everyone was leaving the workout studio I stood there, doubled over as I rested my hands on my knees and felt my vision getting fuzzy. Karina Jr, skipped over and stops in front of me, saying in her overly perky Southern twang. “Oh my gawd, you did so good. You go girl!”. I couldn't tell if she was being sincere or condescending but I was too pooped to care. I looked up at her and she's got her hand up in the air, gesturing me to give her a high five. I take a half assed swing with my limp arm and miss the high five completely. I then just laugh it off and say sarcastically to Karina Jr. “Don't be jealous.”
And so my friends, am I going back to Zumba next week in order to prep more for the Tristan road trip? Yeah, and I’m making Shakes go with me. That should stir things up.