I'm Shaking All Over

April 25, 2009
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My Mom and I went to the de Young Museum for an innocent, free night of a show by a group that featured African music. Everything seemed nice; the music was good, it wasn't too crowded, and even free water. Everyone stood around, all smiles, watching the band and listening to the music.

But then she started and caught my eye. It was a slightly overweight middle-aged woman, with fake blonde hair. She wore a dirty Disneyland shirt and hat emblazoned with the American flag on it. Her feet wore sandals, not shoes. Every once in a while she pulled out a digital camera and, in the most distracting way possible, took flash photos. You could see the performer's face visibly change every flash. She grabbed her husband's side and said, loudly, everyone around them was way too loud and distracting. Then she proceeded to whoop out Yeah! and take two pictures in a row with her Sony camera.

But there was something even more insidious about this creature. She shaked her butt with no sense of rhythm or decency the entire time. The beat went bam, bam, bam; she went la, la, la. She vigorously swung the thing around while a jacket tied around her waist flapped, distracting and mocking me. The woman thought she was Ginger Rogers; more like giving a random street thug a chance at ballet.

As my Mom and I realized how cruel this woman could be, we tried to avoid gazing and amble away. Anything to escape. But by now the crowd enclosed us in our space and we liked the music. Our only option was to stay or leave. No other option. We were trapped in a Shakespeare tragedy, and caught in a dilemma: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer...or to take arms against a sea of trouble.

I found myself frequenting the free water with my free arm to help stave off any sickness and averted my eyes as much as possible. And yet, there was an odd hypnotic pull about it, like a car accident. Despite being ugly and not worth seeing, you can't help but look: looking is only a bad thing, and later regretful, but you look anyways.

My Mom elbowed me and asked if I too noticed the horror. I did, I replied. There we were, the two of us stuck in a crowd in the middle of a free concert, the police unaware of the public torture going on. Shake, shake, shake: it continued on and on, and I found myself lightly punching myself to distract my mental pain with physical pain. I tried to tune into the music: but every chord started to sound like a shaking rear. The once comfortable weather was now hot. Everything suddenly seemed less pleasant: and all because of one woman who couldn't dance.

I ran through scenarios. Perhaps we'd escape, and I'd contact the police:

What happened? the police ask.

This woman, a white one, shook her butt in the most hideous way possible. Anything you'd like to do about that?

Why, young man, we've heard about this lady. She's a serial butt-shaker! At the de Young museum, you said. Alright, we'll finally nab this public menace.

Another scenario was pretty simple: tap her on the shoulder and whisper in her ear when she can't see me, You can't dance. Hopefully she'd stop. It'd be rather cruel, but not as cruel as having to watch her.

In the end I just stood there, waiting for her to stop until my Mom grabbed me by the side and we ran out, stepping on more than a few toes in our desperate attempt to escape the shake, shake, shaking of her rear. From a distance, we looked like a pair of idiots, but I'm glad we left: I love my life, and no butt or dance is taking it.

I think I heard the woman say, "I guess they didn't like the performance. Their loss."





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