We Must Be.
" Kathy shook her head. "Nope. This is an introductory level breakdancing class Chris" "My dance name is Ronald Raygun," I corrected her. Kathy bit her lip and squinted at me. I knew from long experience with women that she was deciding whether I was mentally retarded or not. "Of course. Look. I appreciate your energy and enthusiasm, and understand that you've done a lot of learning on your own time, but I'm actually going to have unteach you all that stuff before we can make any actual progress." "Yes," I nodded, knowing the drill. "Like a training montage." "Sure." Kathy shook her head. "Anyways. You're a long way yet from any dance battles, Mr. President." "No, it's not like the president," I said, flustered. "Like the Ray-Gun. Gun. You know,
" I said. "Do I have to spell it out for you?" I knew the answer to that as soon as I asked. Kathy stared at me blankly. "You might want to pick a different dance name." "I didn't pick it. It was given to me by some guys on the Internet," I said recalling my research foray into the breaking forum prior to hitting the streets. "Dammit. Dammit!
Do you think they were fucking with me?" I asked, again knowing the answer. "Oh no, my balls."
____ As is the nature with training montages, the next two 90-minute sessions passed quickly, a blur of sweat and laughter and temper tantrums set to upbeat music. By the end of it, not only had I become an introductory level breakdancer, I had earned the respect of the rest of my dance crew, and forged bonds that would last a lifetime. "Good luck with your eye surgery," I told Ellen, the 45-year-old mother of three who had become my closest friend. "I know everything will work out just fine," I said through a mask of tears. I moved to hug her, but she resisted, knowing that open displays of emotion were not "street." After Ellen beat a hasty retreat, I turned to see Kathy approaching me. "Hey Ronald" "It's Chris again. Chris Turbofunk Roosevelt." "I know you were interested in seeing a real dance competition. Myself and some of the students from the advanced class will be participating in a thing next week. You might be interested in seeing what you can do with a bit of practice." She gestured at a poster on the wall of the room.
"Holy shit!" I yelled, because I was excited. "We have to win this thing! For the reason. To beat the them. I won't let you down coach!" "You understand that you'll only be a spectator right?" Kathy said. I noticed she was jabbing her finger in my chest while she said it. "I understand," I said solemnly. "I promise I will only dance in self-defense." "That" She shook her head. "That won't be necessary. Just sit down and stay still and enjoy the show." ___ I'm not gonna lie: The Chips Ahoy! Ultimate Street Jam was distinctly less gritty and urban than I was expecting, and having moved up to the multipurpose room on the main floor of the Adult Learning Annex, was no longer even technically underground. Yet despite the venue and the fluorescent lighting and the PA system with the slight hissing sound, it still was a dance battle, and it Still Meant Everything. While I waited for Kathy's turn to take the floor, I sized up our enemies. They were mainly students from the advanced class, and actually all seemed like pretty nice guys. I even recognized one of them - he volunteered down at the soup kitchen where I sometimes got soup. He waved at me. I shook my head sadly. Once friends, now enemies. Dance-war is hell. Eventually Kathy's turn came around. But instead of striding confidently onto the floor, she waved over one of the... dance-arbiters I guess... and said something quietly to him. I stormed down to the warm-up area to confront her. "What happened?" She looked at me with that look people get when they see me.