Thursday, October 16, 2008

The country and not so western....

On one of the Sunday nights in the past eight weeks, I decided to join Ashley in Babboneau for what is called a “country and western dance”. Seeing as how where I had been staying with my host family is very close to the location of the dance, I gave in when Ashley asked if I wanted to go. Her host mom and three of her host mom’s friends came to pick me up on the corner by my house. We fit four people in the back seat with no hesitation, except for a little giggling. At one time I am quite sure that my elbow was in someone’s chest and her thigh had been digging into my rear. It was like the volkswagon commercials, where you see twenty people piling up out of this tiny little car.

Actually this reminded me of when cousin Megan was in town to visit and we had all gone to the Mariners game. We had a ride there with no problem. However, me and Megs wanted to go out on the town and thus, needed a ride to the bar. However, there were already six of the family members going home in this car and so, it was pretty packed. Talk about family bonding time. I think after this experience, we were all changed. Not only did we manage to fit 7 or 8 people in the tiny little car that my uncle was driving but we rolled down the windows to roll in style. One of the cousins decided to start singing “apple bottom jeans”, and next thing we know all of us are singing along to it. Including my uncle! So imagine a mixed car of old and young, of all different backgrounds singing as loudly as possible to this rap song. And on top of this, my uncle had admitted he had gas at the beginning of the car ride. You can imagine how that went. This is perhaps one of my favorite moments in Haley history, perhaps.
So not to get off topic, but I thought you should all know that story because it describes my family perfectly. I’ll risk the legality of the situation for the humor that life presents. Anyhow, that Sunday night Ashley and I made our way to the “country and western dance”. Immediately, I wanted to leave. I felt so awkward and uncomfortable! I didn’t know how to dance this way and I looked very much out of place. The one thing keeping me there, well, besides Ashley saying we can’t go yet, was the music. Yes, yes, I will admit, I love country music. There is no denying this. People thought because I could sing the song in full I was going to be a pro dancer. Nope, sorry old buddies, not the case.

Then, I thought to myself: When have I felt completely comfortable and not awkward this entire experience thus far? The answer: not once. So I made the most of it and grabbed a dance partner. It took many different partners and watching others for hours to actually learn this “two-step” (really a three-step). Between dancing with all guys above 60 years old and feeling incredibly awkward, Ashley and I stepped out to grab a Piton at one of the great “bars” in Babboneau. This one is actually a bar! Funny enough, however, is that the name of the bar is “Gordon’s”. Of course it is! (For those not sure why this name is significant it was the name of the place I bartended at for four years before committing myself to the greater good of the Peace Corps). Along the way to the bar, we met a man from England (originally from St. Lucia) and it turned out his family owned the bar. Life is so small in St. Lucia! Another one of the guys that I met that night was so anxious to keep in contact with me because he said he would probably never see me again and guess what? I have seen him four times since then…in the most random places too. This island is VERY small.

So the morale of the story is: despite feeling extremely awkward and uncomfortable for the first half of the night, the rest of the night proved to be very worthwhile! I had a ton of fun, sweated out the one beer I drank, and “just let go”. By the end of the night, I once again felt as if this was the right place for me to be, at the right time. I should be in St. Lucia!

I wish I could record what happens at one of these events just so all of you readers can experience the same thing I experienced. Words can sum it up, but words cannot fully immerse you in the experience. Imagine the scenery… The lights are off but there is a DJ on the stage in the front of the room with a few lights on him. About twenty people are on the dance floor pulling out their best “two-steps”, the men wearing jeans and a t-shirt with gold chains and the women wearing skirts or jeans; the kind of dress that you would find at a downtown late night club. It’s great stuff. There are people all around the outsides watching and talking. Yes, for a minute you feel as if you are warped back into an eighth grade dance; you are a wallflower and waiting for a dance partner. After turning down the first five because 1) he wasn’t attractive enough or 2) you don’t want to embarrass yourself with your horrible western dancing skills, you finally accept to the sixth, somewhat decent guy that is also bad at dancing. Soon after, you realize that picking a bad dancer as a partner was not the best way to go, as now everyone is staring at both of you and smirking. The next time around you dance with a better dancer, but of course the attraction is compromised. The more and more you dance the better the dancers get, and the less you care about who you are dancing with. Now, it’s just all about having fun and not caring one bit. This was the progression of my night; and it was a great experience for me. Wish you could have been there? Come to St. Lucia and I’ll take you to one or I’ll make Ashley take you to one instead.

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