There are some people irritated with me right now. Children. Students. You see, I am the face of a decision to cancel a dance, to err on the side of caution in the face of a forecast of snow and ice and cold. The cold came, the snow and ice not as much.
But youth is not about caution and will rarely understand it. Which is the way we were and often how it should be.
The source of their consternation? An open Saturday night? The fact that their dancing shoes must stay in the cupboard collecting dust? Not really. Think about it. This is about love, like, and romance. For, suddenly, the world of teenage romance has been turned topsy-turvy.
The dance has been rescheduled for five weeks from now, and in the world of teenage relationships, five weeks is an eternity:
--what does the boy who asked the girl to go as a first date to a safe group setting do now and for 33 days?
--what about the girl who told me last night that she was done with this boy but was going with him just to be nice?
--how about the guy who already knows he wants to ask a different girl from the same school because he was pressured by the first girl's friends into taking her?
--or the girl who screwed up her courage to ask a boy to what started as a Sadie Hawkins dance? Is that still on? Will he ask her?
Depending on what grade they are in, some of these students won't have any of the same friends in five weeks. Will the same dress work? Even those in stable relationships don't know if they or their dates will be free that night. The groups going to dinner together will be different; the options for those only pretending to go to the dance or staying just a short while may not present the same opportunities.
We tend to forget that people at this age are trying everything out, that a constant state of flux is the norm of their social world. The alliances, teamwork, subterfuge, and behind-the-scenes dealing is no less dramatic than a season of Survivor.
We, on the other hand, we of the long relationships and marriages, well, if we are no longer wanting or wanted in five weeks, almost certainly we've seen that coming, or should have, for maybe five months or five years.
Do we long for those days when a relationship might be forged in a single dance, or does this postponement I'm talking about, that tempestuous mess of young love that was exhausting, that we spent nearly always off-kilter, searching for the meaning of the smallest gestures and then second-guessing ourselves every time we thought we had something figured out, represent a past we'd rather not visit? I'd guess it is both. There is both a wistfulness for that consuming drama and a comfort in knowing that we might not have to face it again.