Nowhere to Run
By Brad Paulson
My wife and I took a cruise a few years ago. It was a dream vacation, except for one horrific night I will never forget.
After dinner we found an 80's band playing in one of the various lounges, and we decided to enjoy the music for a while. A nightcap seemed appropriate, so I waved at a waitress to come take our order. Unbeknownst to me, while I was waving my arm at the waitress the cruise director had appeared on the stage and was asking for volunteers.
Someone grabbed me and began pulling me toward the stage. I looked back at my wife hoping she would yell out something helpful like, "Stop! He hasn't had his heart medication today!" but she was no help. I knew this was not a good situation for a middle-aged, conservative, bald guy.
I was relieved to find out that two other men and I were to judge three women lip-syncing to I Will Survive. I gave a little prayer of thanks as I took my seat at the judges' table.
The women took turns strutting their stuff, trying to appear talented. I couldn't wait for it to be over. After we announced the winner, I attempted to escape. Once again someone grabbed my arm and said, "We're not finished yet."
I felt a little nauseated as the cruise director informed the audience that the women would now get to judge the three men attempting to imitate John Travolta dancing to the theme from Saturday Night Fever.
My instincts said, "Flee!" But there was nowhere to run.
The oldest guy went first. The music fired up and he began to dance, rather poorly I might add. 'This is good,' I thought to myself. I'm a bad dancer, but he was really bad. His spastic movements made it obvious that he had never seen Saturday Night Fever. As the song came to an end I felt relieved, but I also felt like a condemned man waiting for his turn in the electric chair.
The next guy was younger, perhaps too young to be familiar with disco because he didn't fare much better.
Then it was my turn. There was no escape. As the music started I had to buy some time. Recalling the John Travolta dance sequence, I was confident I could do a decent version of the point-in-the-air-while-gyrating-the-hips bit, but I couldn't do that through the whole song.
What would John do?
I walked to the front of the stage and began to unbutton my shirt. Now, I'm in my mid-forties, bald and overweight, but the women in the audience went wild. There was only one explanation--they were drunk. This came as quite a revelation to me and helped ease the intensity of the moment, but I was not very far into the song and it was clear I had to dance.
While gyrating my hips and doing the pointing thing, I struggled to remember what else Travolta did in that dance scene. Then I remembered; walking.
I turned, walked to stage left and assumed the hip gyrations for a while then turned and did the same thing toward stage right. I even gyrated facing the band, the women went wild again when my backside was facing them, something my wife is still trying to understand.
Three-quarters of the way through the song I was completely out of dance moves. "God, help me," I prayed. Then it came to me--the splits. Disco dancers used to drop down to the floor and then pop back up again. I knew I probably couldn't pop back up, but the crowd was on my side and I thought it might be good for a laugh so I started to spread out. Halfway down I heard a tearing sound. Unsure if it was my pants or my ham string, I knew the situation was perilous.
The three women judges sprang to my aid, helping me up as the song ended. The crowd was on their feet. I had emerged the winner.
Since that time I have pondered the spiritual significance of that evening and prayed that God would reveal some life lesson to help me better serve Him. So far He hasn't told me anything. He's probably still laughing.
BRAD PAULSON is a Construction Superintendent by day and a freelance writer by night. His focus is to honor Christ through his writing. Several of his short stories have been published in FaithWriters anthology books. He has also contributed to a number of print and online magazines. If you would like to write to Brad, and perhaps recommend a good dancing school or chiropractor, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.