The Dance

“The Dance,” New Era, Nov. 1989, 28

The Dance

I stood in my room dressing for the stake dance with the usual painstaking care, wondering why I was going at all. I think the girls that go hold some endless hope of finding him, that sweet, wonderful guy who would never let you stand alone by the wall. I had thought by that third year I had rid myself of that kind of hope, but maybe it would always be there.

That Saturday night was cloudy and breezy as I rolled away in the old family station wagon to pick up the seven people who depend on me for rides.

It began to rain very hard as we reached the stake center, and my carefully fixed hair quickly lost its bounce in the rain. That was enough to make me want to go back home and watch TV, but by then I had to stay.

I stumbled into the bathroom with the intention of repairing what rain damage I could. There I found a group of perfectly dressed, perfect-looking, happy, chattering girls, and I felt crushed. One of the tall, blonde ones asked me if it was raining. I resisted the impulse to say, “No! I just poured a bucket of water over my head to achieve the wet look,” and just said yes, knowing that it was probably going to be a very long night.

By then I had run a brush through my hair and with a sigh pushed open the bathroom door to face the noisy, social atmosphere of the dance. Many of my friends weren’t there, so I just mingled for a few minutes saying hello to various people. I was not in a great frame of mind even with the music and all the people there dancing and having a good time. I’m sure I wouldn’t have recognized Prince Charming if he had sat down next to me.

About 20 minutes after I arrived, I noticed a guy sitting all alone by the stage. He stood out because there was absolutely no expression on his face, and it was obvious by looking at him that he was not “normal.” His face was a little misshapen, he wore big glasses, and I got the impression that he was slow. I began to make assumptions about what he was like, and I even wondered why he would come to a dance at all. I was pretty ashamed of myself as I realized that I’m no Miss America myself, and I would hate for people to glance over me as though I were inconsequential. I tried to push all of these thoughts aside in my mind and just watched people dancing, but I found myself glancing at him every few minutes.

Soon one of my favorite songs came on. I just couldn’t sit there depressed any more, so I made up my mind to ask him to dance. As I made a move to get up, I looked over just in time to see him walking out the door. Without thinking I followed him and saw him throw something in the trash can which I recognized as a tissue. He was heading for the door to leave, so I had to do something quickly. I did the only thing I could: I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. As he turned around I saw that his eyes were red and tears were welling up.

It’s hard to describe what I felt during the seconds that followed. I guess it was compassion and guilt (my worries about the car, my hair, and getting asked to dance seemed so trivial now). I wondered at the cruelty of people, myself included, who take it upon themselves to classify people according to those who are “cool” and those who aren’t. I also wondered what Heavenly Father thinks about his children and how they treat one another.

After those few seconds of realization, I remember saying, “Why are you leaving? I really wanted to ask you to dance.” Then he smiled, and his smile was more beautiful to me than any I had ever seen. I felt so good and so touched by what he was teaching me about life and Christlike love.

Well, he danced, or he tried to, but to me he danced beautifully, and I gave no thought to anything but the expression of contentment and happiness I saw on his face. You would have thought he had won the sweepstakes and I was Miss America herself. It was just one little dance, but for me it was a very important lesson.

Illustrated by Steve Moore