It’s middle school, and we’re getting ready to square dance.
The sunlight is moving through the old windows on the other side of the gym, moving through the dust in the air, landing on the burnished floor, landing on my feet.
I can see Ruthie sitting by herself on the other side of the gym….sitting towards the top of the bleachers.
We are in the seventh grade.
The boys are grouped like a bunch of shy and scared young cattle….trying to avoid this.
We don’t want to dance.
The coach comes over to us and tells us, “You better get over there and pick a partner…or you’re all going to be running laps.”
I start moving.
Ruthie is still sitting by herself…waiting.
Ruthie is not the prettiest girl in the school.
There is nothing flashy about Ruthie.
She doesn’t try to attract any attention.
I don’t know Ruthie….but I think that she’s nice….nice in a peaceful way.
When the coach tells us that we all better motorvate and find someone to dance with….I move towards Ruthie.
I climb the bleachers to where she is sitting, and I ask her if she’d like to dance.
Now, this is the part that I always remember…and that shames me a little and makes me regret another thoughtless and unintentionally cruel thing that I’ve done.
Ruthie looked up at me like she was grateful or something….happy….pleased to be noticed.
She looked at me like I was a nice guy.
She looked pleased to finally be “picked”.
That was when I said, “Coach said that if we didn’t pick someone, we’d be running laps…”
I said that….and Ruthie’s face fell a little and I think that she understood what the “real score” was.
I think I must have been a bit embarassed….a little bit shy….to have to add that.
I still don’t know why I had to say that.
We danced….and I’m sure that Ruthie thought that I’d only picked her because I had to.
Ruthie was a nice girl….sitting there in the dusty ray of light.
Why did I have to ruin another nice moment?