“You can’t listen to this song quietly! It’s the antithesis of quiet,” I said to Luke as I turned up Shout! by the Isley Brothers.
I grew up listening to the oldies of the 50s and 60s. I had no idea there was anything else in the world aside from Elvis, The Chirelles or the like until I was twelve, a fact I relish in both pride and embarrassment.
At my first middle school dance we all managed to form a circle the size of the school gym, a giant ring of awkward sixth graders about to be flung into puberty. The eighth graders on hand showed us how to slow dance. Boys with hands on girls’ hips (what was there, at least) and girls’ hands on boys’ shoulders and moving ever so slowly in a circle. Round and round until the song ended. These same boys I had played the cootie game with in elementary school were now timidly taking the hand of girls they’d once run from. Dancing slowly in circles, looking around the room. Looking at the floor, the exit sign, a punch bowl, anywhere but that girl’s eyes.
Casey Clifford was my first slow dance partner. A boy I grew up with and attended church with. This kid I had always made fun of for his choirboy song voice turned out to be cool in middle school. Granted this dance was before he was fully enveloped in the cool kid clique like quicksand.
Tell Me What You Want, by the Spice Girls was my friends and my anthem in 1996. When it came on we all screamed and jumped around affirming the power of girls to any boy in sight. We recited every word, memorized like the Pledge of Allegiance. I fully admit it still gets my blood pumping every time I hear it.
Inevitably at every dance proceeding we would Shout! to Shout! Everyone knew that song and everyone raised they’re hands up and shouted to the music. We got low when we were called to “get a little bit softer now.” I felt like I was finally cool because my peers would dance to a song I actually knew and had known for years, unlike the six months I had heard the majority of music on the top 40 station KIIS FM.
My first church sponsored dance was at fourteen. I went without my usual posse and rode along with my friend Joe and his sister Jill. I was so timid at first. The gym was nearly empty with perhaps twenty teenagers scattered around the cavernous room. I felt about six inches tall. Music echoed in the space and eventually I let my guard down. We danced the jig to the Cotton Eye Joe and of course Shouted! with the best of them. The highlight of my night came in the name of a boy named Micah. The first slow song of the night played out with me standing on the sidelines, or going to the bathroom. I decided to hang back with my little group dancing in slow motion when the second one came around. As I made a slow motion spin I spotted him. He was tan with dark hair and eyes, dreamy as all get out and walking straight toward me. Lucky for me by fourteen I had survived my formative awkward phase and wasn’t completely heinous looking to the opposite sex. “Do you want to dance?” he asked with hand outstretched.
“Sure,” I said cavalierly, not wanting to seem too eager or let on of my instant enchantment with his hunkiness. My friend Joe had to sorta push me toward him because my feet had inexplicably become stuck to the floor. I lurched forward and took his hand. We turned round and round as was customary, but instead of both hands on my hips one had grasped mine, like grown ups. I felt very mature.
He told me his name was Micah and that he went to T.O. (Thousand Oaks) high school. I suddenly felt a pang of jealousy for every girl at T.O. Their odds were vastly better than mine at capturing his heart. We made awkward small talk until the song ended and parted ways. The rest of the night flew by and I went home with fond memories of the night and a lingering thought of Micah.
Unfortunately for Micah, he became my little obsession. I couldn’t stop talking about him to Keri or my friend Amy. For years Amy would doodle on my textbook covers for me, often memorializing that fleeting night and my continual admiration for Micah.
I found out he played volleyball after a little reconnaissance; some might call it stalking. Suddenly I found myself at games every week. Keri would tag along being a lover of volleyball and good looking Polynesian guys. She once made a thirty-minute drive with me out to T.O. High School for one of our away games in football on the off chance that we might see him wandering the stands. And we did. We huddled together smiling, giggling and then pointing. Attempting to be covert but clearly being more conspicuous that the majority of the crowd. Of course he noticed and we did a Marx Brothers style turn in the other direction and booked it out of there.
It became this running joke between Keri, Amy and me. We’d all be on the lookout for him any place we went where there was the off chance encounter. There was a regional church dance that brought us back together about a year later. Keri was the lucky winner of a slow dance with Micah to Lady In Red. I, on the other hand, was being seduced by an overzealous and overactive and pretty much over-everything Latino guy that couldn’t seem to keep any kind of Book of Mormon space between us. The fact was, we were all hooked on Micah and nothing else would do.
The quasi-stalking thing went on for a couple years and by that time he had figured us out. We definitely weren’t trying to be subtle, but you’d never find us talking to him either.
Before I finished high school I had moved on from my fascination but when I began attending college at BYU in the fall of 2002 I saw him. At least I’m fairly certain I did. He was leaving the student center. I couldn’t believe my luck! Perhaps we were destined to be together after all? The fact that he appeared to see me and bolt in the other direction didn’t deter me from running back to my dorm room to tell Amy and gush over the potential. “OMG!” she cried. It was a total OMG moment.
I sometimes wonder what happened to him and if he remembers that chubby blonde girl that seemed to follow him everywhere he went for a few years. These days whenever I heard Shout! It reminds me of the glory days of church dances and the days when I always hoped for the chance to get another dance with Micah Porter.