It was a cheesy fifth-grade dance, with balloons taped to the walls in a futile attempt to make the gym look less boring and music swimming through the air from a cheap boom-box a teacher had brought. The only good thing was the food.
There had been some line-dancing by a few brave souls and some out-of-style waist-wiggling by the teachers, but no couple dancing, at least not officially. There was, however, a rumor spread like a wildfire in a parched forest that Sarah and Luke had danced together.
A hoard of girls immediately clustered around Sarah, asking, “Did you do it? Did you dance with him?” Some boys sidled up to Luke and tried not to make their desire to know too obvious, but they were human and, hey, they wanted to know.
But why, I wondered, would anyone feel provoked to cross over the threshold of couplehood? Why would they so willingly submit themselves to the unknown consequences that came with attraction to a member of the opposite sex?
“They’re dancing!” a voice shrieked above the anxious chatter. “Look, Jackie and Jesse are dancing together!”
Immediately, students circled the pair, and indeed they were holding hands and awkwardly swaying to a song that was almost inaudible above the ooohs, aahs and eeews from the crowd.
When Jackie noticed, she threw down Jesse’s hands and shouted indignantly, “We can’t dance with you watching!” She stormed off, leaving Jesse standing alone, blushing and confused.
In a sudden spur of emotion, several students coupled up, clasping hands with forced smiles plastered over their faces, leaving the rest of us to watch in despair or confusion.
Life definitely got more interesting that day. That little dance proved to be the bridge to the rest of our lives.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.