Is there anything more humiliating to a fourth-grade boy than square dancing? Last week, given a tip to the horror by a teacher I won’t incriminate, I stood just outside the cafegymatorium peeking at the impending doom.
Standing in two circles, the students were listening to the gym teacher explain what was about to happen. There were diagrams and arrows and scribbles written on a white board, I think to explain transitions, movements, and roles, but looking at almost any of the boys’ faces, you’d think they were waiting for a root canal at the dentist.
Square dancing includes two things fourth-grade boys are not fans of: holding hands with girls and public dancing. Parts of the organized madness are free of hand holding, but then, like a cruel oppressor, the man on the record shouts, “Promenade!” Boys are forced to hold not one, but both hands of their partner and dance around the circle.
The look on the boys’ faces was sheer terror. A few resonated a trace of disgust mixed with denial, but again, every few minutes, the death knoll of “Promenade” lurched them back into reality.
I stood, lingering in their misery for a few minutes and then was snapped out of my trance by a couple of kindergartners coming to fetch milk for snack time.
“What’s going on in there?” One little girl inquired.
“It’s called square dancing,” I replied.
“It looks dreadful,” answered the boy with her.
And right on cue, “Promenade!”