It was a new moon. A soft breeze floated through the room, bringing with it the sweet, fresh aroma of the Pacific. It should have been perfect – but deep within me, the beast stirred.
Not now! Not in this place! With horror, I could feel the beginning of the transformation – first in my fingers and toes, then working its way inward. The disease’s journey always ended the same – eventually it would take over my entire body and I would lose control. Helplessly, I looked at my wife. She didn’t have to say anything, because her eyes betrayed her. She knew.
The setting couldn’t have been more perfect. My niece was marrying a former Marine in a fairytale wedding. She was beautiful in her gown; he was handsome in his tuxedo. His Marine buddies came too, as did my niece’s wonderful cousins and friends. The room was alive with the joy of youth – the future was theirs for the taking.
We watched them as they celebrated the moment. They danced. They laughed. They owned the room. We contented ourselves to revel vicariously, remembering what it was like to be young.
But as the night wore on, the sensations got more intense. My wife’s calm demeanor belied the concern on her face. Almost imperceptibly, she shook her head, “No.” But I was losing the battle that was raging inside of me.
Finally, inevitably, the creature consumed me. Staring at my wife with wild eyes, I stood up and screamed, “LET’S DANCE!”
In a flash I was on the dance floor, gyrating and convulsing as the beat flowed through me. I was Kevin Bacon (no relation) in Footloose. I was Michael Jackson before the surgeries. I even threw in some River Dance and Numa Numa. Like a wolf howling at the moon, I felt so ALIVE!
I hit a new level after my nieces encouraged me to do the “new” moves. I did the “sprinkler.” I did the “lawnmower.” I did the…well, I don’t know what it’s called, but it looks like this:
Finally, the music switched to a slow song, and just like that the feeling was gone. I awoke in the middle of the dance floor, clarity returning to my brain like a slap across the face. My nieces, who had encouraged me to let loose just minutes before, now seemed uncomfortable and detached. The Marines avoided my eyes.
But I was happy. No one had gotten hurt (except for a monster headache, plus I think I pulled a muscle in my thigh), and I felt good – frankly, once the euphoria of raw, animal dancing gets in your blood, it never completely goes away.
Oh, I know the creature will return again someday, that it lays dormant inside me, waiting for the right song, the right moment, to emerge again. But I take comfort in knowing that I’m not alone – that there are others out there who share the same affliction. And more importantly, I know that my family is large, and there are lots of weddings coming up.