Monday, May 4, 2009

dance pretty.

There are mosquitoes lurking near my front door, all of which are approximately the size of Yorkiepoos. I have a theory that the blinding light that is my pale skin on a sunny day is a beacon to these creatures. As soon as I get out of the car, I start "judy chops" until I get inside. Mosquitoes suck (zing!).  And it isn't just mosquitoes taking over my neighborhood. En route to the grocery store yesterday, I saw my neighbor swatting bees (which are approximately the size of St. Bernards) with a tennis racket

The trip to the store was, obviously, fraught with peril, but once I got there, it was so worth it. I was walking down an aisle looking for gourmet delights I could spend hours making from scratch* when I first noticed The Couple. In particular, I noticed the way they moved. Which seems random, I know. Sometimes I notice a color someone is wearing, or a mannerism a person has, or an accent. Sometimes I don't notice anything. Sometimes I notice the way they move.

I read an article once about an actress from the 40's (maybe) who was iconic for her walk. When a journalist asked her about whether or not her walk was intentional, she said it most definitely was. She said she went to the zoo and studied the way the tigers walked. She wanted her movements on screen to be a feline mix of grace and confidence and danger. I thought that was interesting. I also thought it might be a fun way to learn more about characters I write. What does their posture say about them? Can something as simple as the way they walk, or hunch, or dance give some personality insight? Does a whimsical girl always walk with a little bit of a bouncy lilt? Does a jerk always strut? Or maybe physicality could be a cool device because it is so misinterpreted. (Elizabeth Bennett sort of did that right? Thought Darcy was a snob, in part, because of the way he carried himself?)

I don't mean to bore you. I'm just over explaining why I sometimes notice random things about people -- like the way they move. *cue James Taylor song*

So. I saw this couple in the store. He had on tight(ish) black jeans, a button up shirt, and swoopy black hair. He was handsome. Looked to be in his 30's. She had red hair that was twisted into a long braid down her back. She had on a plaid shirt, leggings and white Keds. Like I said though, what caught my eye is that they were eerily graceful. Something about the way they moved around each other, to grab a box of granola bars, or to reach for the box of Cheerios on the high shelf almost looked timed.  They moved like dancers. And they moved like a couple. It's like they could always gage exactly what the other one was about to do. Super cute. 

As I was standing in the check out lane, I saw them roll their buggy/cart** up to the lane beside me. I glanced over again, expecting her to do pirouettes off the scanner or something. What I saw was way better.  He said something to her and smiled. Then he held one arm up to the side, hand open. He extended the other arm toward her. My heart started to palpitate. They were seriously going to dance.

I'm so weirdly, hopelessly romantic. SSBSers aren't my fave, but I'm a-okay with dancing in the grocery store.  For the first time in recent memory, I was grateful for the person who always gets in front of me, and always tries to hustle 322 items through the 20 items or less lane.

The red-haired girl pushed the buggy/cart away, turned toward him, and rested one hand on his shoulder. She pressed her other hand against his and he held it tight. Then he circled his arm around her waist, and pulled her closer to his chest. I know, right? I know! I was about to have a nervous breakdown too. Then, I kid you not, they waltz/tangoed across the grocery store. I don't dance (nor do I watch Dancing with the Stars) so I don't know what the dance was, I only know it looked very pretty and professional. The way they danced, and they way they held each other, lead me to believe they had been dancing for awhile. And of course I assume they are completely crazy go nuts in love with each other. :) It was gorgeous, all set to some cheesy 80's muzak piping through the speakers and the beep-beep-beep of milk and eggs and boring going through the scanners. In the middle of all the boring, they danced. And that makes it even better, don't you think? 

The escapade made me think of Anneth in Silas House's book The Coal Tattoo. Anneth is a mess. She's needy and broken and wild and I knew, from the minute I started reading about her, I would kind of want to be her. Girls who are a little bit crazy always come off really cool in books. Anneth was headstrong and flighty but she loved to dance. It wasn't just a hobby either; it's like she had so much energy trapped inside her body she had to get it out somehow. She didn't care how many people were staring or what they were whispering. She let the music consume her and she danced. Let me find the book so I can tell you how he described it. He's an incredible writer. Hold on a sec. 


House writes, " was like seeing joy made into a human form that could travel across the dance floor-- it was like seeing the music itself." (from Chapter One of The Coal Tattoo)

When I think of Anneth dancing, I think of this song by the Avett Brothers:

So I've been singing "Swept Away" ever since I saw the grocery store couple waltz through the freezer section. The whole ordeal left me a little bit inspired. It's cool to think that maybe, when you're really caught up in doing something you love - when you're painting, or writing, or dancing, or falling in love :) or whatever - people see the music in you too.

I'm not going to lie - there is a distinct possibility that when I got home, and had grocery bags bulging in my arms, and rain dripping down my face, and mosquitoes swarming around the door waiting for me to try and get through, I still spun around in a few happy twirls in the driveway.

Here's hoping you find time to bust a move in the cereal aisle this week :) Seen any sweet public displays of affection lately? 

(pea ess, don't forget to leave a comment on the other post if you want to throw your name in the mug for a copy of Paperdoll. Jim Halpert picks the winner on Thursday :)

* I was looking for a box of Strawberry Poptarts.
** My Northern friends make fun of me when I call it a "buggy" :) 
*** Apparently, after the Avett Bros sang Swept Away at the venue in the video, a guy proposed to his girlfriend. Swoon.


  1. Two things...that "Darcy doesn't sparkle" graphic is freaking awesome, and your dancing in the grocery store story made my day. LOVED it!!

  2. Darcy doesn't sparke. True story. And also? Darcy doesn't have to fight the urge to drink Elizabeth's blood. I'm just sayin'. :)

  3. Awwwww! That story is SO CUTE! I wish I could have seen that!!!! I am hopelessly romantic, so it's ok. I read a book this weekend (yes, I read 280 pages in 2 days, but it was good!) that was predictably romantic. It's called The Princess by Lori Wick. It's set in the 1990s in a made-up but modern country and the recently widowed prince must get married again to be heir to the throne, so he gets an arranged marriage. The prince (named Nikolai - so cute) and princess (Shelby) fall in love (of course, eventually) and it was so cute! Haha - sorry for that book rant, but my friends don't really go for books like that, so I figure I'll tell you guys.
    Strangely enough, my grandma gave me this book. We both like historical fiction romance...I guess our 60-something year age gap isn't so far off. :)
    I'm sorry, but what does "Darcy doesn't sparkle" come from? I love Pride and Prejudice, but I haven't heard that one.

  4. That's sweet. And morecaffeine is hilarious... and was that your frozen chicken neighbor?

  5. I LOVE that story! Have you seen those videos (I think in like Sweden or erm...somewhere else in Europe) where a bunch of people just start dancing? There's one to Single Ladies by Beyonce and one to The Sound of Music at a train station. I love those videos.
    But just in general, I love the idea of people who randomly start dancing, unaware of the people that are watching them:)

  6. I've long held a theory that the whiter the person, the more attractive you are to mosquitos. I'm hopelessly pale. My mom is a beautiful olive tone. We can stand in the same yard, and I get EATEN up and start whining until I have to go in. She'll be perfectly fine. My nephew is a whitey white boy and suffers my same fate. There has to be something to it.

    And Rachael, I LOVE arranged marriage stories. I had a friend who was from India and had a real life arranged marriage story. With a happy ending. I don't want one...but I love to read them.

  7. Ruth, gracias!

    S, true that!

    Rachael, I love sweet romantic books with happy endings! I'm also a sucker for fairy tales and that sounds like a good one. I don't remember the title, but I read a really sweet Lori Wick book once about a girl who kind of nursed this blind guy back to health. She fell in love with him. He fell in love with her. She left before he could see her b/c she thought he would want her better looking sister instead (I won't spoil it but it has a good ending! Which I guess kinda spoils it ... :). I remember liking the book because the guy loved the girls freckles. Also, I'm the same way. When I find a book I love, I postpone life and finish it pronto. (Darcy doesn't sparkle is a reference to the book Twilight. The vampire sparkles in the sunlight. The author compared him to Mr. Darcy when she wrote him.)

    J - Not frozen chicken man. I should share that story on here sometime though ...

    Sarah - I think I know what you're talking about! Are they in a train station dancing? Those are great! I know Single Ladies is getting old but the song still makes me happy. I still crank it everytime it comes on the radio.

    Jenny - it's a pale thing, isn't it?! I've always had this theory. I'm glad you concur. :)

  8. I think Crazy Chicken Man should be a creepy recurring character in a sitcom.

    I know an Indian couple who were way against arranged marriages, but their moms were really persistent so finally they gave in, but with a time limit, and they ended up getting engaged within a couple days of meeting each other and getting married in two weeks. It was absolutely adorable to watch them interact, because even though they had been married for two years, it was like they were still dating. And they're perfect together.

    I had a few revelations of my own in the grocery store yesterday. I was standing in front of the brownie mixes, and first was frustrated by the fact that they cost 3 times as much at Bruno's than they do at WalMart. Then, even though there were over 16 different kinds of brownie mix, none of them were the kind I wanted. Then I started asking myself deep questions, like what do I really want? I mean really, really want? What does the fact that I can't settle for a lesser brownie mix say about me?

    Then I found that three of the packages said "family style." They seemed no different to me than the other 13 types, but for some reason, the manufacturer decided to slap the word "family" on it. Which led to more questions: What does "family style" mean? What kind of family are we talking about? Are we talking traditional family, or the "modern" definition of the term? The Cleavers, the Bradys, or the Gilmores? Because I have a feeling that even though Lorelai and Rory are only two people, they could consume more brownies than the Cleavers and the Bradys combined. Therefore there's no telling how many brownies these packages will produce.

    So what is the modern definition of family? And what does that say about the descent of modern society? And how will this affect the future of prepackaged, unbaked confectionary goods? Have they already been affected?

    I considered writing a blog about it, but I figured I'd just dump it all here instead. My apologies.

  9. Ashley, remind me to tell you a story about Crazy Chicken Man sometime, the story that took him from Crazy to all out Creeper. Also, no need for apologies. I'm so glad you dumped your thoughts on here! :) The fact that Lorelai and Rory could consume a whole pan of Brownies is another reason I heart, and MISS, Gilmore Girls so. I have random thoughts like that in stores sometimes. Like why is it, in the toys section, all the toy vacuum cleaners and dishes are in the girl aisle and never in the boy aisle too? It's just odd that consumerism sometimes takes a very traditional (dated?) concept of gender roles, family, etc. and pushes it so hardcore. When it affects my brownie mix ... that's a problem! :) Really though, this mental turmoil you encountered in the grocery store sounds like the beginning of a fun novel. The plot is about to twist and things will soon look up. Trust the Ichiban. (In an unrelated note, do you watch How I Met Your Mother? Chase and I are on season 3 now and it is hilarious and awesome. My favorite sitcom since Friends. It seems like a show you would enjoy too).

  10. Please share the story of Crazy Creeper Chicken Man here sometime. That is an all-time classic. :)

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  12. This is a pie chart of my favorite bars... and here is a bar chart of my favorite pies!

    I've seen every episode. My friend JD and I are constantly texting HIMYM and Gilmore Girls quotes to each other. It's kind of obnoxious.

  13. natalie, your mom gave me the first link to your blog and i've been following you on google reader ever since! i like your writing style... throw my name into that cup please. your story reminded me of some videos from this guy: he has good music taste and style, and he also likes dancing in the freezer section of grocery stores. i read somewhere that his goal was to dance in public places for 365 days straight! an admirable quest i suppose. here's the link:

  14. Laney! I'm so glad you're dropping in from time to time! :) I loved the dancing video. I'm really surprised I haven't seen that guy in a grocery store. I tend to run across the more eccentric types ;) He's a really good dancer! Ironically, I thought of you the other day. I was watching Bravo and got all excited because I thought I was watchng a Project Runway commercial. Not so much. It's some new show that's a total PRun rip with Issac Mizrahi and the girl who used to be in Destiny's Child. Know what I'm talking about? It makes me sad. I need Tim Gunn!

  15. i know, i'm crossing my fingers for a new one. come on tv execs... "make it work!" someway, somehow they must come up with a deal.