Hells Bells

So, we’re in class. Loud blast of music from the zumba-or-whatever it is class next door,
Smirnoff sez, “Is that… Moby?”
We are like, “that’s Adele” (because duh, great album, but you can’t swing a frikin cat without hitting some Adele)
So we’re all like, “no, it’s Adele, and-hold the phone- how do you even know about Moby, Old Man???”

Reminded me of this one time when my brother was making a mix tape for some girl, and we were totally giggling because of the High-Speed Dubbing, which made every song high-pitched and fast and hilarious, and this particular one was some Guns&Roses song with lots of cussin’ so it was like The Chipmunks were just Going Off and we were cracking up until we both looked up and saw our Grandpa standing in the doorway, listening, with a funny look on his face.
We froze.
See, we weren’t even allowed to say the words ‘shut-up’ at home. This was not Grandpa’s rule, but still, how would he react? Were we in trouble? Or worse -would he be disappointed?
Grandpa sez, “Is that… Rap?”
My brother fumbling wildly for the Stop button while I sputter, “uh, no Grandpa, this is, uh, rock? I guess?” (while my mind is starting to thaw out and think, ‘How does he know about rap? He is too old to know about rap’
The stop button seems to be eluding my brother altogether, Chipmunk Axel Rose lets rip with a particularly blue streak, and Grandpa’s funny expression breaks into a full-on grin and then he adds my very favorite old-man-cuss of all time to Chipmunk Axel’s tirade:
“Well… Hells Bells!”

I was at work the day I got the phonecall that my Grandpa had died. Clearly remember my mind thinking, ‘ok, you’ve been sort of expecting this call ever since he fell last summer…he knew how much you love him…he was proud of you…it’s ok…’
Meanwhile my body, without instructions, hung up the phone, walked into the storage room and crumpled into a heap of abso-fucking-chest-wracking sobs beside the box of mint green petticoats.
And my mind kept kind of like raising it’s hand and trying to be all, ‘uh, no really, you are ok with this news’ and my body would be like, ‘Shut up Fool! Nobody asked you! I’m the boss of you right now! Suck it!’
Scraped myself together enough to get up and go back to my table, thinking, ‘ok, that was a good cry, now back to work…’ which was pointless because my work buddy took one look at me and came around my table and folded me up in a big hug.
Now, Gentle Reader, the Adult Beginner is not a great hugger. I tend toward the Military Strike school of hugging: get in, get the job done, get out. And that’s in the best of times. Combine hug-awkwardness with utter embarrassment at finding myself sobbing in public, and,well, it was a bad scene. I was struggling, trying to push my friend away, choking out half sentences like, “Gonna. Get. Tears. On. Your. Shir-ir-ir-ir-ir-irt!!!!!”
My friend ignored all that and just clamped down on me like he was a fucking Hug-Bot3000. (Now with 33% more huggin!) Got me calm enough to get my keys and go home.
Think it scared him a bit though.
Which I was later able to use to my amusement and advantage! As in:
Me: hey, gimme some of your straight-pins!
Him: no way, Lazy-butt, get your own!
Me: uh-oh, feeling very sad that you won’t give me some pins! Feeling a little misty-eyed…
Him: oh, crap, anything but that, here, take them! Take them all! You stay here I’m gonna go get you some more!

Funny how sometimes your body will just take over.
Sometimes in a good way, like you’re in ballet class and you’re struggling with a step and you can’t figure it out and your body is like,’step aside, Brain. I got this.’ and then a couple classes later you’ve got it, like magic.
But then sometimes in a bad way, like when you’re in ballet class and you’re thinking, ‘come on! It’s just a waltz step! Left two three right two three! You can do this, don’t embarrass me in front of my friends!’ and your body is like, ‘Srsly? You don’t feed me right, you stay up all night reading or whatever, you don’t remember to drink water and Now you need me?! Shuh. Waltz my ass. Forget chu!’

And there was this time when I was showing my Grandpa a sort of unofficial portfolio. Pictures of dresses I’d made, mostly for myself. And he said, “Now, Honey, I’m confused. Why do you say that you’re not a designer?”
I said, “well, I don’t make a living doing this stuff…” and he said, “Ha! That has nothing to do with it! Why, if that were the case- do you think I ever made a living from my paintings?” and I said, “Huh. But Grandpa, you are an artist.”
and he said, “yes exactly”
Sometimes I think about that.

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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26 Responses to Hells Bells

  1. Dorothy Darker says:

    all of this I love

  2. Sarah Dani says:

    I have had so many of these thoughts too. This article made me remember things.

  3. I loved your last paragraph. I was recently did a post about the thought of whether us adult beginners can really call ourselves dancers, even though it is just recreational. But we dance, several times a week, right? So we’re dancers!

  4. roriroars says:

    Fantabulous post. That is all.

  5. Katharine says:

    Hello. I love your blog. This is a great post. Made me think.

  6. Kim says:

    That last paragraph got me right in the heart. I was marvelling at how you managed to infuse this whole post with such wonderful humour and then the last paragraph forced the tears to my eyes. But such a lovely post, really.

    And I know what you mean about when your body is all, “Shut up brain, and let me do mah thang”. I was in class with 3 hours of sleep last night – it was the last class of the term and my last class with this instructor, so I booked it home from work, napped for 30 minutes, stuffed a sandwich down my fatigue-induced shakey self, and went to class. I expected the worst, but instead I think I was just too tired to overthink what I was doing, and my body just did it. T’was nice. I was planning to blog it today.

  7. 30somethingfauxballerina says:

    Ugh, I hate waltz steps! I think they might be the bane of all adult beginners. Except I get subjected to the turning one… I wish it was just left two three right two three. Can’t do it to save my life yet no one else seems to have a problem. Great post but misery loves company… just sayin ;)

    • We do the turning waltz too, so I guess it’s more accurate to say Front two three Back two three, although I have the worst problem with the left and the right and end up throwing in a fourth step half the time and forget about going from the left side of the room!

      • Sarah Dani says:

        I hated learning waltz steps! They are hard! Once you get them down, they are awesome. They’re so mold-able and totally beautiful arm worthy.

        • Kaija says:

          And then, when you think you *finally* have conquered the waltz turns, a teacher will have you do it with completely different arms, which will send you spiralling back into “WTF Am I Supposed To Be Doing and Why Am I All Thumbs And Two Left Feet” land….so insanely irritating yet strangely masochistically challenging, this.

  8. Jen says:

    1. I love your Grandpa.

    2. I totally agree on the “shut up, brain” part. Tooooootally.

  9. Acacia says:

    I remember my dad always surprised me with what he knew, but it was usually a result of his dissolute youth that my mom never let him talk about when I was a kid. I once mentioned something about the cost of marijuana in 1990 (about $10 an ounce) when my mom was in chemo and couldn’t eat. Daddy was stunned and told me that he used to get a Prince Albert tobacco tin full for a nickel back in the 1930s! He was probably the same age as your grandpa. I lost him in 2001 and miss him every day.

    I often have problems with combinations in class, for some reason I can’t always keep my head focused. I’m fine at the barre, but center work makes me feel like a little kid spinning around until she’s dizzy and falls down. Wheee! My coordination deserts me unless I drill and drill and drill, which we never have time to do in class.

    I’m not a dancer, I’m a student of dance who dances around her dining room. I expect I always will be.

  10. Jeff says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My grandpa was very artsy, and I wish he had lived well enough in his later years to see me dance. Now I have to sing from A Chorus Line: “God, I’m a dancer! / A dancer dances!” :)

  11. Got the lump in my throat today! Just lost my Grandpa in Feb (started ballet not long afterwards).

    Perfect post.

  12. Janet says:

    Tremendous post. My Grandpa died when I was six months out of college (31 yr ago). It is too bad that I never got to talk with him when I was a “grown up.”. But, he almost made it to 92, so maybe it was time. I still miss him.

  13. Every now and then I think, “oh, he never got to see this or that important thing in my life,” but then I figure grandparents get to see the potential for all those things even if they’re not around to see them actually happen.

  14. mladen says:

    dreading such phone calls for some time now.

    my gran’s been starting every conversation with “…hopefully i won’t be going on for long now…” and since she’s 83, instead of the usual light-humorous reply from me, her twisted sense of humour jabs my heart a bit deeper each time. she’s really old school, 2nd world war practical mentality, never finished elementary school because of the war. but surprisingly, she’s been incredibly open to me and ballet in the same sentence…

    brilliant post.

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