Sunday, April 5, 2009

This Is My Dance Space

I'm addicted to Dirty Dancing.

When people ask me which movie I'd take to a deserted island (and, strangely, people ask me this a lot), I say, without shame, "Dirty Dancing." They wince. They laugh. They think I'm kidding. I'm not kidding. No matter where I am, in what state of feeding, clothing, bathing, coloring, or pretending-I-think-building-forts-is-fun with my kids, if I come across Dirty Dancing on TV, I am compelled by some inner force to watch.

Just yesterday, after Thad and I put the kids down for a nap, we were flipping through our 843 HBO channels and...there it was. Of course. As if a day goes by in the turning of the earth where Dirty Dancing isn't on a channel. Somewhere.

"Keep going," I said. He clicked past it, past 27 Dresses, Harold and Kumar, Terms of Endearment, 27 Dresses in Spanish....

"Wait!" I yelled, too loud. "Just go back and see what scene it's on."

I remember the day when I was 16 and my cousin told me I had to see this new movie, Dirty Dancing. I wasn't interested, and not just because she lived in Texas. I mean, she'd recommended La Bamba. I saw La Bamba. I liked La Bamba. But Dirty Dancing? People grinding against each other in a Catskills resort 20-plus years before I was born? I'd never been to the Catskills. I didn't even know where the Catskills were. I'd barely even been to overnight camp, especially if I didn't count that week at Church Camp, where I had to sing the lead in the Church Camp musical, "Down By The Creekbank," which completely ruined all chances of having any kind of romance with the blond boy named Scott who was a year older than me and infatuated with my blond friend Jodi who actually looked like I girl and didn't have to belt about crickets and tadpoles and frogs "down by the ole holler log."

But I saw Dirty Dancing anyway.

My life, henceforth, was never the same again.

At the time, I assumed my obsession was because of Baby's hair. Because Baby had the best hair. And she got to wear cut-offs. And she learned to do that lift in the water with Patrick Swayze. A few years later, I liked it because she got to have sex with Patrick Swayze. Then, a few years later, it was because Patrick Swayze came back to get her, and pulled her out of the corner, proving that it's always wise to wear a lovely low-backed dress to any end-of-the-season gathering. I wanted to be Baby. I would have killed to be Baby. And I was Baby, except things for me never progressed much beyond walking into the cool dancer's cabin with a watermelon in my arms.

So Thad clicked back to Dirty Dancing. It was at the scene it seems to be at about 87-percent of the time when I randomly come across it on cable, where Baby and Johnny are dancing together in the studio, post their big sex night, singing "Come HERE loverboy," right before Neil walks in on them and says, "Hey Baby...I could teach you a few moves," which, to this day, still made a little puke swirl up in the back of my throat. We watched it to the end, with not a single protest from Thad, who I suspect harbors a little fantasy himself of being Johnny Castle in the rain, who unlocks the door to his Chevy by breaking the back window with a cement pole.

I know I'll make my girls watch this someday. And I know they'll roll their eyes like I did that time I was home with the flu during high school and my mom brought home Breakfast at Tiffany's on video. It was cool and all. But it was no Dirty Dancing.


  1. Vicki... I had to sing "Down by the Creekbank" in church camp too. I'm pretty sure Germs was my invisible dog and Jillian sang "I am Adopted" ... nothing will ever compete with Dirty Dancing. Love your blog!

  2. I remember you dancing Vicki... And you were almost a 'baby' :) RIP Patrick Swayze