The Dancing Queen at Frankenstein’s Lab

31 May

Looking around the room, I felt like I was in the midst of some bizarre  nightmare.   At 45 years of age it had been many years since I’ve gotten jiggy on the dance floor, but from the looks of things, not much has changed. The music, the pulsations, they were exactly the way I remembered them.  I had a flashback to my clubbing days in NYC, where every Friday my girlfriends and I would hop a bridge or tunnel to go party in one of Manhattan’s notorious night spots.  Not much has changed – the club was hot, and the energy was palpable.  It was exactly as I remembered a dance club would be, except  instead of stepping over beer bottles and observing the tell-tale signs of cocaine, juice boxes littered the floor, while cookie crumbs dusted the lips of the pint-sized clientele.  About 100 kids, with just as many parents  were along side of me, crammed up, panting and sweaty packed into  the cruise ship’s Frankenstein’s Lab discotheque.  Disco balls hung, lights pulsed to the beat of the music, and the floor lit up intermittently in sync with the song’s bass line. The centerpiece of the dance floor was a larger than life replica of the disco’s namesake strapped to a video screen, overlooking the dance floor. The kids were burning off their pre-party snack and going nuts. 100 kids jacked up on a sugar high, coupled with the macabre decor and the place was a madhouse.

The MC running the ‘Bon Voyage Dance Party’ for the cruise’s ‘Kid’s Camp’ had just announced it was time for the big family dance off.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Big One hopping up and down with excitement.  The Big One, aka  Darla, is my energetic four-year old princess, who, like me, never backs down from a challenge.  The previous hour was spent with the Kids Camp participants shaking their little booties to the likes of Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry. Prizes, ‘gold medals’ with the cruise ships logo, were given out to individual dancers based on “Best Boy Dancer’, ‘Best Girl Dancer’ ,’Best Teen Dancer’ , and the big one was incensed  that she was overlooked for “Best Preschool Dancer’. “How dare they pick someone else…….that girl isn’t a better dancer than me….” she cried.  To make matters worse, her idol ‘Funship Freddy’, the ship’s costumed mascot gave out the awards.  She worshipped Freddy.  How dare he diss her! I had to hear about it for all of 10 minutes.  She threw a major shite fit like that  only an over-confident, entitled, 4-year-old diva could do.  When the MC announced it was time for the family dance off, she promptly ran to me, announcing “Come ON Mommy!!!” and dragged my fat aging ass on to the scene, where Frankenstein so aptly awaited me.  I thought my dancing days were over twenty-five years ago. Welcome to my nightmare, Dr. Frankenstein.

I look over at Hubs, and he gives me a wave and sneer. He knows he dodged a bullet on this one. The Little One, our 2-year-old, Lilah is fast asleep in his arms.  I’m on my own here, and I know it. He salutes me and mouths ‘Good luck’ as the Big One leads me by the hand to her spot on the reverberating dance floor.  As Funship Freddy takes the mic and counts down to start the dance off, The Big One shoots me a look as if to say,  “Don’t screw this  up”.  I’m scared. And not just of Dr. Frankenstein who is looming down on me.

I look around to access my competition and work out a strategy.  Crap. The mom next to me is Latin American. I’m a Euro-mutt which make her naturally score 10 points higher than me in the rhythm department. I look to the left and see The Bride of Frankenstein is on the other side of me. A Goth mom.  She is young (thus has more stamina) but she looks less than thrilled to be on the floor.  I know I can take her. Scanning the crowd I notice Fat Sweaty Dad is behind us. He is pure white bread, wearing black socks with shorts and track shoes, and he has got DORK written all over him.  He wont stand a chance. The music starts. It’s that ‘Kick Him to the Curb Unless He Looks Like Mick Jagger‘ song.  I start rocking my hips. Things have changed in 25 years.  My hips arent swinging like they used to. As a matter of fact, I am hoping I don’t dislocate a hip. I feel my bones sway one way, and I think my fat is moving in the polar opposite way. It can’t be pretty and I am not unaware that misdirected fat is no way to win a dance contest.  I look behind me and see Sweaty Fat Guy is having the same problem.  I am hoping it looks worse on him.   Goth mom is bored and barely moving.  I notice Mrs. Latin America has on 5 inch spiked heels, and she does NOT look like she is having fun. Ha! Sucka! I am thanking God, Frankenstein and every Donna Summer impersonator that I have ever seen for the sensible shoes I wore.  I start shaking my money-maker a little harder, and it all comes back.  It’s 1983, and I am back in time at The Hunka Bunka Ballroom’s grand opening.  There was a dance contest that night, and I was working it like Tony Minero in Saturday Night Fever. Shaking that ass, moving that junk, until Victory was mine.   I was chosen as the dancing queen that night, and have the t-shirt to prove it. I did it before I and know I can do it again.  Shake, sway, arms moving.  Think like a black girl, damn it.  I look around and the Brazilian Beauty looks defeated.  Her feet hurt, I can tell.  She is slowing down! HA! I shake it some more. Fat daddy is red-faced and you can tell the words “coronary malfunction” are on his mind. The poor bastard is jerking  about in uncoordinated spasms, similar to thank of an epileptic seizure and I am hoping the ship’s doctor is on call, just in case. He looks distressed.  He suddenly stops dancing, and bends at the waist, huffing and puffing,  gasping for air.  His son tugs on his shirt and he resumes kicking up his heels to  a very non-rhythmic version of the robot.  NERD! Is that all you got? Boo! Go back to programming fiber optic infrastructure! You’re a disgrace to fatties !!! (and I should know).  I look at Goth Mom.  She is barely moving….her eyes are closed…. is she sleeping? Might as well be.  I’m psyched, I’m pumped. I look up at Frankenstein and even he appears to be grinning. Or maybe its just the lack of blood flow to my brain – it’s all in my ass – which hasn’t stopped jiggling.  Work it, move it. get jiggy. The Big one is putting on her A game too. She wants this and is giving it her all.  I know we are looking “fly. ”

The tempo changes and “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles comes on. The Big One is enthusiastically bopping, giving it her all.  She is a HUGE Beatles fan, and I can’t let her down. I look out on the floor and notice the crowd is thinning. Several moms and dads have given up, panting and lining the outskirts of the dance floor watching us work it. The Big One is giving her all, moving, shaking, and my girl’s got rhythm. She won’t be outdone, not my girl. Seriously, for a couple of white chicks, we are on fire. Just when I think we got this, I notice another mom and her son moving to the grooving like its nobody’s business. Competition! She is also an older mom, I am guessing in her 40’s. Mom-jean capris (like me) she looks like she too has suffer the effects of PTMS.  She is old,  tired, and uncool,  and has the same pair of sensible shoes I have on, but only in a different color!  She is a funky old chunkster and could be my brotha from anotha motha!!  She is the Jekyll to my Hyde here at Frankenstein’s disco!! Her dance partner is a cute little dark-haired boy who has tricky feet, and is working the beat. Darla and I have met our match. The horror show dance off at Frankensteins lab has just heated up.

As Oprah says, there  is always one thing you know for sure about yourself , and one thing I know for sure is this: I am not the smartest girl in the world, in fact, often times, I am a !@#ing idiot. There is always someone smarter.  I am not the prettiest girl, my eyes are too close-set and my skin is always milky, even in summer.  I am no longer the skinniest (obviously) and relying on my looks will get me nowhere.  But one damned thing I know for sure, is that enthusiasm will take you everywhere in life, and its landed me success, granted me things,  and taken me places where people would never have guessed I’d be. I look down at my little girl, and I notice she is scanning the crowd accessing the competition too. She wants this so bad, and is her mother’s daughter.  She puts on a smile, doubles up the charm and starts dancing from the heart. She is putting on her swagger, shaking her boot-tay and suddenly does a tumble sault on the dance floor in a pee-wee attempt at break dancing.  Competition? Bullshite.  Move over Jekyll and son, cause we are going to blow it up!

We amp up our verve and lock hands. We do the twist and lock arms, knock knees and put our heads together, laughing and twisting. We try the ‘How Low Can You Go’ twist strategy, and I secretly pray I don’t pop a hernia and give birth to my ovaries while I squeeze and shimmy on down low.  Darla is working it too, giving it her all. We are laughing and really having fun together. I see so much of myself in her, and my heart fills with love and pride. Like me, my daughter makes up for her shortcomings with sheer determination and enthusiasm, and I love her for it.  She is putting on her A-game and going for it. Eying Jekyll and son, she sees what we are up against and is hell bent on rocking the house.  As the song ends, I pick her up, grab her, and swing her round, her golden blonde hair flying like a halo around her head.  Her sweet grin is edging up on her flushed cheeks as she giggles as we twirl.  Filled with the warmth of motherly pride, I take a mental snapshot in my mind.  If nothing else we had fun together, my sweet daughter and I, and it’s a moment I hope to remember for a long time.

The song ends, and Funship Freddy announces the winners will get a trophy shaped like the cruise ship. I see my daughters hopeful eyes widen at the sight of the gleaming genuine, plastic 24 kt award. Freddy walks thru the crowd. My daughter tilts her head up optimistically, watching him walk thru the sweaty dads, hyped up children, and dancing queen has-beens, like myself.  The suspense is absolute and the club is quiet. Frankenstein stands sentinel of the dance floor as Freddy weaves his way past us.  Disappointment clouds her eyes. I give her a half-hearted smile and bend down to  whisper “We had fun anyway“.  Always a trooper, she smiles in agreement and nods her head.

Suddenly Freddy stops, turns around and holds the trophy out to my daughter. Her face beams and she squeals in delight. She takes the trophy and throws her arms around Freddy, jumping up and down in sheer exuberance.  Joy is bursting thru the seams of her being, and her smile appears larger than her face. She was never so proud. Knowing how she worked for it, knowing how she upped her game and gave it her all, I was never so proud of her. She is her mother’s daughter.  I know she will do well in life, because even at age four, she knows that if you want something bad enough, hard work, enthusiasm, and a few shakes of  your tail feathers, will give you a great shot at getting it.

Oh, and a pair of sensible shoes always helps too.

Thanks for Reading!

Copyright 2011 Livelaughloveliquor. All Rights Reserved.  No reproduction in any medium without prior written consent of the author is permitted.


12 Responses to “The Dancing Queen at Frankenstein’s Lab”

  1. jeanne May 31, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Christine… adorable, loved it. Darla will probably have that trophy for the rest of her life. (or at least the memory of it).
    See you still have it!
    BTW you look great in your photo.

  2. meleah rebeccah May 31, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Awwwww!! OMG!! I’m soooo happy Funship Freddy gave your daughter the trophy! What an awesome vacation!

  3. She's a Maineiac May 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    That is awesome!!! Congrats! I loved reading this, felt like I was right there on the dance floor, my bad hips swaying along. I always say, sensible shoes and enthusiasm is all you need in life!

  4. May 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    I don’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading anything. Not just a post, I mean anything! I just loved it.
    Sadly, I’m 48 and relate to almost everything you said. I ask myself all the time “When did I get old? I don’t feel that old.” But then there’s always those moments that creep up and remind me…like when I tried to show my daughter how to do a backbend when she was in elementary school (yeah, it was already going by then)…when I took the kids to a school, rollerskating party and thought I could just get back on my skates and start doing everything I did when I was a teen (I was queen on skates!), and found not only was my balance now off, but I didn’t recover quite as easily from falling as I once had. And dancing…ahhh…how I used to love to dance (I was quite the tart in my day, and dressed the part!), but now my bad back wages war when I try to hang out with KC & The Sunshine band while doing dishes and “Get down tonight”. Thanks for the chuckle and the memories. I needed that.

  5. ournote2self May 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Congratulations Big One! I’m sure she’ll never forget this trip. 🙂

  6. Get Real Chris May 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    So proud of you both! What a great story…pure joy. It made me think of the good old days when dancing our arse’s off was the only exercise we ever needed

  7. thedailydish May 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    No need to ask how the cruise was!!

    Kudos to you both for shaking & giving it your all. SO glad you won the prize – you deserve it!!

  8. rachelwhims May 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    “I secretly pray I don’t pop a hernia and give birth to my ovaries while I squeeze and shimmy on down low.”

    OMG! I laughed so hard at that line I nearly peed my pants! Great post! Was cheering for both of you the whole way through!

  9. amblerangel May 31, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    That’s what I call “Shakin’ what your mama gave ya”

  10. Christine May 31, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    OMG!!! Hunka Bunka. Those were the days. So funny as always Christine

  11. The Logophile June 1, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    “I secretly pray I don’t pop a hernia and give birth to my ovaries while I squeeze and shimmy on down low.” LMAO! Awesome!!! You guys really deserve. That is something special- nothing can replace that kind of bonding. She is adorable. Enthusiasm will last way longer than looks and can take over brains almost any day. Nice job!!!

  12. happykidshappymom June 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I think this is my favorite post of yours ever! What a story. So glad you took the time to write it down, share it with us, and have it handy to read to your daughter when she’s grown. It’s great.

    At the beginning, I was praying you’d made up that Dance Lounge of Terror.

    But then as your story got into it, and I saw how you and your daughter were sharing the moment — I realized it was all real, and you told the ending beautifully!

    Congratulations on your trophy! And what a sweet little girl you have. 🙂

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