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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     There is no scarier time for a Dad then when he wakes up one day and realizes that his baby girl is no longer really a girl, suddenly she has become a teenager and has started on her way to growing into a beautiful young women. As all Dad’s know, the first place our minds go in these instances are to boys because we were all boys once and we know how boy minds work. The day that your baby comes to you and announces her joy in the fact that she has a date for the middle school dance, it is that day that sets all of the warning alerts and sends Dad’s into an over protective meltdown.

     The only way to guarantee the safety of my daughter was to chaperone her dance. I had never chaperoned a dance before and to be quite honest I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried so much as she behaved herself just as I had hoped, and interestingly enough, as I stood there watching the young people move and gyrate to the sounds of the music it brought my mind back to my younger days and those first few dances.

     I remember the Jr. High dances at the gym in Redfield. There were the usual groups of girls dancing, and maybe even one or two couples who would dance to the slow songs, but most of us just stood around watching scared to death that anyone would see us dancing. I never had a date to most dances I went to, no self respecting boy who just wanted to hang out with his buddies would. Oh sure, there were always girls to dance with, and I was the king of “oh if you’re at the dance I’ll dance with you” dates in school.

     It wasn’t until high school, and really my junior and senior years that I really started having real dates to the dance. I remembered the fun, the music, the nervousness of those dances. The way it felt to dance with a pretty girl, as though life was happing all around you, yet you were oblivious to it. The dance I remember the most was prom my junior year. Not only did I have a date, but a date from another school which made me super popular. Her name was Heather and I remember picking her up at the door of her parents home, standing there nervously in my gray tuxedo. She appeared and for a moment my heart stopped. I don’t know if I was shocked by the fact that this was a serious date, or the fact that I was expecting her to come out wearing jeans, but as I stood there with my mouth half opened staring at this young woman in her pink dress I was certainly sure that the evening would be wonderful. To be quite honest not only was it one of the most perfect evenings of my life, but I still look back on that night today with fondness as I remember the company of good friends and the beautiful girl, in the pink dress who stole my heart.

     As I stood around watching the groups of kids at the dance, there were a few things that caught my eye. I giggled as I watched the drama of an 8th grade breakup. It was filled with so much angst and sadness as the words rolled between the couple and friends stepped in to try to smooth the situation over. It made me think back to break ups at that age, and other ages for that matter, and how much the world is coming to an end at that very moment. I wanted to walk over and explain the mysteries of life and relationships to them, but I felt inadequate about any explanation I could give.

     Perhaps the most touching moment of the night was one not many people saw, and in a way I felt bad for witnessing it. No, it wasn’t my walk into the boys restroom after my daughter told me that there was a strange smell emitting from it- it’s called boy’s Hannah, they are all stinky and smelly and never really grow out of it. I watched as a shy awkward boy sat alone by himself most of the night. His clothes were kind of a mess, and his glasses kept sliding down his nose as he sat there watching the crowd. Occasionally a cute little brunette would come up to him, kneel down in front of him, and implore him to dance. He would look away shyly and shake his head no, and she would plead with him further before heading back alone to the dance floor. This went on most of the night, and not even intervention from a few of her girlfriends could get him to dance. At the end of the night, I watched as she asked him one last time, only to be turned away with tears in her eyes as she found her coat, and walked to the door looking back at him one last time.

     How I wanted to walk over to him, to chide him, to explain to him just how much she liked him and didn’t care that he didn’t know how to dance. I wanted to explain to him what would happen if he sat on the side and never took the chance to dance with her. I wanted to will that young boy to get up and dance with her, just as though no one would be watching and secretly hopping everyone would. I wanted to help him get the dance from the prettiest girl in his class. But in the end I did nothing, letting life take its course. I hope someday he takes that chance, for I’ve been in his shoes, I know what he is missing out on. And when that day comes, when she takes his hand, and he takes the chance, even if I’m not there, I know that for that one brief moment in the life of a young boy, all in the world will be right, and that will be a memory that lasts him a lifetime.


     See you next week…Remember, we’re all in this together.