I first noticed Anita—really noticed her—at a Valentine’s Day dance.
Me, and every other guy in the building.
She was amazing, and not just because she was beautiful, with her shoulder-length blonde hair, her 1)larger-than-life eyes and her 2)stunning smile. She was also an amazing dancer. It was the late 1970s, and disco was king. That meant you couldn’t get away with just standing in the middle of the floor and shaking like we had always done during the 3)hay-day of rock and roll. You had to know steps and moves, and you had to have a partner who could do them with you.
Oh, and you had to wear 4)polyester. Lots and lots of polyester.
Which is why Anita attracted so much attention at that Valentine’s Day dance. She was a Dancing Queen. She knew all the steps, and she had all the right moves. And 5)boy, did she make polyester look good.
I, on the other hand, was a dancing fool. It wasn’t that I couldn’t dance well. I couldn’t dance—6)period. While I had learned to more or less 7)bluff my way through the tribal 8)ambiguity of rockin’ and rollin’, there was no bluffing the Latin9)Hustle. Or even the Disco Duck. Either you knew it, or you didn’t. And if you didn’t...well, you looked pretty foolish out there.
Or in my case, more foolish than usual.
Still, I was determined to have a dance with Anita even though, to tell the truth, I wasn’t exactly sure who she was. I had seen her at church, and admired her, but on the dance floor she was 10)in her element. Dancing was in her heart and soul, and the joy of it radiated from her with every slide and11)stomp and 12)shuffle. It was absolutely 13)mesmerizing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. But every time I tried to move toward her to ask her to dance, some adolescent 14)John Travolta would cut in front of me, 15)resplendent in his artificial fabrics, and busting disco moves like 16)Arthur Murray in gold chains and 17)stacked heels.
It wasn’t until the evening’s second-to-last dance that I was finally able to catch my turn with the Dancing Queen, and I tried to make the most of it. I summoned every bit of dancing know-how I could muster, 18)gleaned from watching 19)Saturday Night Live and 20)American Bandstand. Although my Hustle was more 21)Roamin’ than Latin, we somehow managed to make it through to the end of the dance in the same place, at the same time, and with all our toes22)intact.
Less than six months later, we were married.
I won’t bore you with all of the details about how we got from those first 23)stumbling, 24)bumbling steps on the dance floor to joyful and 25)light-hearted steps down the 26)matrimonial aisle. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is those first steps were taken. No matter how insecure and awkward and 27)clumsy they were, they were significant first steps towards something remarkable.
That’s usually the way it is with first steps. Whether we’re learning to walk or learning to run a business, starting a new habit or breaking an old one, taking a weekend 28)get-away or the journey of a lifetime, no steps are more important than the first steps. They may be embarrassingly weak, or even painful. But they are steps that must be taken.
Especially if you hope to catch a Queen.