You know those friends who keep life interesting? Everyone has them. Your fun friends, the ones with whom anything can happen. You never know. You could show up to hang out and 30 of their closest family members are in town or there’re fireworks or something exciting in a blender. Everyone needs a fun friend, the kind whose motto is “the more the merrier.”
So when one of my fun friends texted me to come over because her mother-in-law had ordered a dancer for her husband for his birthday, my interest was piqued. What kind of dancer? Are we “we watch dancers” kind of people, I mean, other than The Nutcracker? What kind of nutcracker dance was this? Exactly what nuts were getting cracked?
She explained it was like a candygram but with a dancer. Listen, I saw the naughty nurse from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so was it that kind of gram? A lot can happen when you answer your doorbell, is all I’m saying.
And then my friend asked if I’d bring the kids. Okay look, I’m fairly lenient with the culture exposure but seriously what kind of dancer is this? But I mean, I’m always looking for things to do with the kids, and also I sensed the underlying desperation in my friend’s text. On the surface, it appeared nonchalant, but really she was begging for strength in numbers. I am here for my friends, whether they need a meal when they’ve had a baby or they need me to provide a human awkwardness buffer. I loaded up the kids in the van and headed over, possibly for an entertaining afternoon or possibly to expose them to a little afternoon soft porn.
The husbands kept the birthday boy distracted in the backyard while the wives convened on the front lawn with all the kids waiting in anticipation of ... what? We live in the deep, deep suburbs, so birthday dancers from the city have a long drive. She was an hour late and it was 90 degrees in the Georgia afternoon.
My teen sighed exasperatedly and asked what, like, we were even, legit like, waiting for? I leaned toward her conspiratorially and explained, “There’s a dancer coming to do a dance and we don’t know if this is like a family-friendly dance situation or a rated R bachelor party situation so it’s very exciting. This could go south really fast.”
She sat up like this just got interesting. The dancer finally arrived and got out of her car in some kind of robe-ish wrap. She went inside to change and we began enacting the plan to trick the birthday boy outside. We still weren’t sure what kind of costume she was changing into but surely she saw the kids? Surely?
We moms locked eyes with each other. Moment of truth. What have we signed up for? I took stock of the kids around me, deciding which ones I could get to first and how many eyes I could cover. As with so many moments of motherhood, I lamented only having the two hands. The door cracked open and I felt my knees bend, ready to fling myself out. Lord, give me the wingspan of Michael Phelps and the reflexes of Mr. Miyagi. She stepped out in a coconut bra and began to shake her hips to light music emanating from a blue tooth speaker. The guys arrived, surveyed their children and wives assembled, and we all looked at each other like okay we’re doing this.
Would the coconuts stay on? We all started to sweat and not just because of the heat. The music kept coming to an end and we’d start to clap, then it would start again and her hips kept shaking. It seemed never ending, but she was excellent at her job, smiling confidently in the middle of their lawn, stepping gingerly between the piles of dog poo from their two prolific wiener dogs.
When she finally took a bow, she invited the birthday boy to learn the moves, and he stepped forward good-naturedly and began sashaying around in his khaki shorts, sans coconuts. And then the kids all took turns and we all just pretended this was a regular thing that happened in cul-de-sacs all the time.
When it was all over and the dancer was changing back into her street robe, we nodded solemnly at each other, feeling like we’d just survived something significant. The coconuts stayed on, but the whole thing was so awkward it was almost intimate in its awkwardness. I felt closer to everyone for having experienced this together.