Tapping My Way to Reality: Class No. 1

>> Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I was a much better dancer before I bought my first tap shoes. Now, with an expensive receipt from Capezio and an empty shoe box on my dresser, I know I have my work cut out for me.

Let’s see. How can I describe the sound I made as my feet took my tap shoes for a test drive across the tiles in our family room? How about: clack, clunk, scrape... thud, thump... thump... clack.

What rhythm.

Guys, you forgot to tell me this shit is hard! Seriously, I tapped better in my bare feet prior to strapping these things on. What happened?! How do you tap dancers do it? You’re geniuses. Truly. Which makes me wonder -- is this just a small glimpse of the apparently large gap that exists between my fantasy self and my real self? If so, what else do I suck at?

Could it be that I’m really not a Kung Fu master waiting to unleash my high-kicks on a world of parking space thieves and deceptive Gap clerks? Is it possible I don’t have a novel lurking in my gut or a sultry nightclub performance in my future? Where is the power, the fame, the ability to change the world? Did I dream all that potential?

Mitch Hedberg said, "I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask where they're going, and catch up with them later."

Maybe it’s time to face facts. Maybe I’m as good as I’m gonna get. Perhaps it’s time to hang up my tap shoes and whip out the last three seasons of Buffy so I can happily return to a fantasy life where I kick vampire ass and stay young forever. After all, my real self can’t kick my way out of a paper bag and my real feet sound like... well, you know.

It’s yesterday afternoon...

Samantha is finger painting and I sneak on my new tap shoes to surprise her. I clip, clap, thump my way into the dining room. I’m confused by the strange, uncontrollable sounds my feet are making, but Samantha’s eyes open wide. “Tapping shoes!” she squeals. “Can I wear them?”

“Sure, just wash your hands, first.”

Like a bolt she shoots from her chair and returns with the cleanest hands I’ve ever seen. She holds them up for me to examine. “See, all clean!” She can’t take her eyes from my shoes.

I take them off. She puts them on. “They fit!” she says. (And you thought my feet were the size of small boats. Instead they’re tiny and delicate like Tinker Bell’s.) Happily, Sammy shuffles, stomps and clacks her way through the house. She waves her arms and bends her knees. When she isn't loud enough, she jumps higher and stomps harder -- in love with the powerful noise of her feet.

Geez Louise. How can I turn off, tune out, and retreat into a world of misguided fantasy, when my own children constantly jolt me out of my internal nightmare of insecurity and into a world of face-painting, soap bubbles on the bathroom floor, and happy feet?

OK, tap shoes. I’ve had my reality-check. In a few days you and I will try again -- only this time, I’ll return humbled and open-minded. Thank you, Samantha, for reminding me why I wanted to take Beginner’s Tap in the first place -- for the fun of it.

Five days to go. I can’t wait.

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