Unless you live in a cave or do not have access to any electronic device at all, you know that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died yesterday.
Both had significant impacts on my life, whether I liked it or not:
1971: I'm in 7th grade -- Mr. Rotinni's class: In addition to having to do the dreaded President's Physical Fitness test (which I always hated, being on of the two fat kids in class...), our gym teacher taught a segment on Square Dancing.
She'd partner up boys and girls and we'd square dance the hour away -- well sort of. The boys, who decided all the girls must have cooties, would pull the sleeves of their shirts over their hands so they wouldn't have to touch us.
Then, during doe-se-do, while we were supposed to dance in a circle with our arms/hands linked to our partners, the boys would add a little "whip the tail" in to the dance by releasing us, pretty much hurling us in to the wall.
Mr. Rotinni heard of these adventures and was very disappointed in us. So disappointed that one morning he made us move our desks to the side of the classroom to open a big, wide space, right there in the middle of the classroom.
Then, he made us square dance -- holding hands and being polite and everything! (At least we didn't have do do math...)
Something very strange happened that morning.
The boys decided the girls weren't so bad after all. As a matter of fact, the very next day, someone in class (I forget who), invited us over to her house after school for a "party" . A SLOW DANCE party.
So we showed up and slow danced the afternoon away. After that, we probably had slow dance parties at some one's house at least once per week. It was 7th grade heaven.
One of the songs that I remember from those days was "I'll Be There", by the Jackson 5. I LOOOVEED that song and especially LOOOVEED that song when one of the boys I had a crush on would ask me to dance while it was playing.
I have fond, fond memories of those parties and thank Michael Jackson for singing that song.
1976 -- I'm a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison: I'm 17 (started college early). I'm wandering up State Street after class, feeling overwhelmed and lost in a sea of 40,000 other students.
I walked past a poster store and saw it hanging in all it's red swimming suit glory: The FARRAH poster. Megawatt smile, mountain of hair and that swimming suit. I pretty sure my reaction was to just stop and stare. I'm sure I thought to myself "shit. great."
Feeling already lost and insecure, overweight and struggling with an eating disorder, there was no way I could measure up to that image. And every freshman boy in Madison and across the country had that image hanging up in their dorm room. Great.
I hated her.
Well, obviously, time passed and I got over my issues with food AND Farrah, thank heavens.
I grew to appreciate her talent ("Burning Bed", "The Apostle") and fell in love with her after watching the documentary of her fighting her battle with cancer.
She seemed like a genuinely caring and kind person. I'm sorry she lost her fight.
Present: Rochester Triathlon is Sunday. Olympic distance. It will be my second year participating. I'm ready for the swim and the bike. I'm still struggling a bit with my run. BUT, I'll be participating with my friend Nat and we'll have some fun.
We'll also be on the look out for Beth to wish her happy trials out there at the event.
My plan for when I'm out there hobbling through the 6.2 mile run will be to take my mind off my tight quads by fondly remembering Slow Dance Parties and life at Madison.
And being grateful for being alive.