I'm on a earn-more-spend-less kick, so I have stopped going to swing-dancing. It's a pity, as that was my guaranteed weekly exercise, and there are two guys there who are afraid of most of the other women, so they always danced with me. I like them: they were refreshingly humble, modest and clumsy. They knew they were clumsy, and they knew I didn't care. To say with with no irony whatsoever, who am I to judge?
Yesterday, after sitting around all day writing my brains out and growing fat, I got a phone call--I think from a mobile, as the reception was so bad. I muted the TV, and the caller became audible. He had phoned about the weekend "Balboa" workshop I had signed up for, as I hadn't paid yet. I apologized for not having contacted the society earlier to ask them to take my name off the list, saying something like, "I'm sorry I should have mentioned this earlier." "Yes, you should have," snarled the stranger. "But I usually get an email," I stammered. "I sent you an email," he snapped. "What's your name again?" I asked, so ladies, Balboa-dancing M. is not the guy you want to take home to your mother.
M. had sent me the email the day before, and I had not seen it, as I had been busy writing, shopping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining, and then sitting in bed most of the next day writing some more. So I thought M. was right out of line snarling and snapping at me over the phone, and when I found the email from the "team" I told them a member of their "team" had made an angry phone call and please take me off their mailing list.
This is where I start judging, just so you know.
As I've mentioned (and as my mother will confirm), I know not how to suffer in silence, so I mentioned the event on Facebook and soon got a mention from a local swing-dancer--one of the best, perhaps the best, followers in the club. She is kind, beautiful, hip, graceful, talented and in her mid-twenties. I would introduce her to Polish Pretend Son if she were not also an atheist. She wanted to know what had happened, and I ranted about swing being a "young woman's game" and how to be asked to dance one has to be either an advanced dancer already, or young and attractive.
And this truly charming, objectively pretty, unusually graceful girl wrote that she isn't asked to dance all that often herself. She usually asks men to dance, and they often turn her down. Some always turn her down--she doesn't know why.
"What!?" I inwardly screeched. "What the h--- is wrong with those guys?!"
My hypotheses are two-fold:
1. Local men who swing-dance are spoiled rotten by the female attention.
2. Some men resent women asking them to dance and so won't dance with women who do, even if they are young and pretty and guaranteed not to miss a cue.
My kindly advanced-dancer Facebook friend is not from Edinburgh and noted that "girls-asking-guys" is the culture here. (Presumably this isn't the culture where she's from, and guess where that is? One guess.) And because she is so kind, I don't have the heart to tell her I think she is helping to perpetuate the problem.
M. might have just been having a bad day, but even then I am not sure why M. thought that a good reason enough to snap and snarl at a woman on the phone, one who could identify him over Facebook in two clicks. Martyn must have thought it didn't matter a damn, and in a way he's right. Women at swing-dance want to dance with men, and M. is a man, and women probably ask him to dance all the time. I could denounce M. from the housetops, and still the eager young ladies of the Edinburgh swing scene will want to dance the Balboa with him.
Back when convention dictated that women didn't ask men to dance, dance organizers made sure there were indeed men who would ask wallflowers to dance. Hotels hired male as well as female professional dancers to dance with guests. Mothers poked their sons (and sisters poked their brothers) and hissed, "Dance with Samantha. She's been sitting there for fifteen minutes." Men asked women for dances in advance and women wrote their names down in a charming little notebook. Everyone knew that women couldn't ask men, and so there was a lot of social pressure on men to ask women. Now "of course women can ask men" is treated like a massive advance, but in practice it turns men into Scarlett O'Hara.
I am always annoyed when I read men saying they started a rock band to meet girls or had fantasies of girls throwing themselves at them. That's nice, but why don't they just march up to girls at parties and say "Hi! I'm [the host]'s friend from school/work/club/church. How do you know him?" If they like the girl, they can bring her a drink or something afterwards and have another conversation. How hard is that?
Believe it or not, this is a serious question, for when I think of the attractive young Catholic twenty-something men that I know, not-spoiled, not-snarling, not-rude, I wonder why so many of them don't have girlfriends. As a twenty-something, I would have hit on any of them, and not because I was this incredibly deep twenty-something. I would have gone out with them for intensely shallow reasons, protected from my folly by their own sterling characters. (Rather like I was protected from any fallout from my infatuated marriage-in-haste by the fact that B.A. actually is the perfect man for me.) So why do they not have girlfriends? They're tall! They're smart! Two have proper jobs! One has a car! I don't understaaaaaaaaaand!
It's such a waste of twenty-something Catholic bachelor that it makes me cross. And meanwhile those spoiled wretches at swing-dancing have women chasing after them for dances. What a world. I cry.