I have just weeks to find my hips. I didn’t know they were missing until my first samba dance lesson, when the Brazilian instructor asked me to move them.
We were upstairs at the YMCA and I was standing in front of a full-length mirror, wondering what I was thinking when I raised my hand.
“Move your hips like this,” she (Valeria Ball) told me, rotating her body as you might expect a Brazilian dance instructor to do.
With both feet planted, I pushed my 60-plus-year-old butt back and rotated it to the front, trying my best to make a full circle.
“Did you do it?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I just did it. You didn’t notice?”
And so it goes as I prepare to learn how to samba, hopefully in time for the Feb. 15 performance at Seven Feathers Casino Resort.
The event is a fundraiser for the local Battered Persons’ Advocacy. I’d attended last year’s event and thought, “That looks like fun. Maybe I’ll do it next year.”
I’d consumed two gin and tonics by then and lots of things look like fun after a glass of gin.
The event is kind of like “Dancing With The Stars” and includes a dozen couples. I thought I’d have an advantage because my daughter, Lacey, is a dancer at University of Oregon and has been dancing most of her 22 years.
I hadn’t factored in my two left feet and memory lapses, the result of 62 years of punishment.
We started practicing almost two months ago, every Monday night and now on Saturdays as we get closer to the event.
I think we are more than halfway into learning the routine. If we aren’t, I’m in deep trouble.
Nobody really knows where the samba originated, but some folklore traces it to the belly button.
According to Wikipedia — the cyber-head source of all knowledge — samba comes from the word Semba, “translated as ‘umbigada’ in Portuguese, meaning ‘a blow struck with the belly button.’”
Unfortunately, striking someone with your belly button requires hips and … I don’t seem to have any.
That might also explain my golf game.
I’m pretty sure I used to have hips. I never really gave them much thought because they always seemed to be there when I needed them. In fact, they were really why I was always able to keep my pants up without a belt.
The samba is really a beautiful thing to watch. When done correctly, the couples flow through their routine as if they are one body. It’s graceful, with lots of turns and twists, which is where the hips really come in handy.
My daughter was made for samba. She would probably light up a ballroom if she had a partner with hips and a memory.
If there is hope, it’s in the notion that most of the attention will be on the women. All I really need to do is be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there. Men are mostly props, something most men don’t learn until late in life. We are simply window dressing in life’s Big Picture.
How I get from one spot to the next on the dance floor really isn’t that important, so long as I end up in the same place as my dance partner. In fact, during one part of the dance I pretty much run to catch up, with my arms outstretched and a smile on my face, designed to make it look like I know what I’m doing.
The pink shirt and suspenders ought to also serve as distractions, keeping the “That bald guy doesn’t have any hips” comments to a minimum.
And there is solace in knowing that whatever happens on Feb. 15 it will be for a good cause.
Unfortunately, we still have a need for a Battered Persons’ Advocacy, which tells you a little something about the society we’ve created. In fact, the demand is growing as more men feel the need to take their frustrations out on their wives, girlfriends and children.
Melanie Prummer, who heads BPA and is the one primarily responsible for my dancing dilemma, points to a continued tough economic climate for the increase in cases involving domestic violence.
Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it solves a lot of problems in a household trying to make ends meet.
That’s no excuse, mind you. There is no reason for a man to raise his hands to anyone, let alone a woman or a child. Unfortunately, some of that behavior is passed along from one generation to the next. We learn by example when we are children.
This Feb. 15 dance event is really an important fundraiser for BPA and it’s a fun night out right around Valentine’s Day. If you’d like tickets, just contact Melanie at the BPA at 541-957-0288.
It would be great to see you. Perhaps you might even help me locate my hips.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.