Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Central Ohio Meets Hot Miami
A group of 8th graders travelled by bus from the flatness of central Ohio to the former swampland that is our nation's capital. The boys were herded into the back of the bus and the girls coralled into the front with the chaperones sitting between. They hit all the major monuments, and were stunned into silence at the Holocaust Museum. The week culminated with a dance and dinner cruise along the Potomac. The boys, growing tall and gawky, put on polo shirts and dress pants. The girls donned dresses and skirts, some of them daringly wearing spaghetti straps under a pearl-buttoned sweater. The shoes were a disappointment, but the teacher insisted on flats only, no heels. The girls' hair was slicked straight and many opted for a ponytail. Giggling, they boarded the boat and were surprised to see another group of students -- 8th graders from Miami, Florida.
These students looked different. The girls' dresses were cut low across the chest and high on the leg. They glittered with jewelry and hair ornaments in their wild curls, frizzing in the swampy heat.
When the dancing began, the groups were mingled. These central Ohio kids knew how to dance. They'd been going to dance club for six weeks, stepping and shaking in rhythm to the music and the directions of the dj. But they weren't quite ready for the Miami kids' dancing.
One boy, about 5'4" and with a smooth, innocent face, stood doing his goofy dance, his arms in the air bending back and forth like windshield wipers. His friends love to watch him make up dances. Suddenly, a girl from Miami joined him. Her dance moves were centered a little lower.
"She was just humping him," said one 14-year-old observer.
"What'd he do?" I asked.
And when he told his girlfriend, she laughed.
Another boy, a little taller, his muscles beginning to fill out, his face tan and his smile dazzling, shrugged his shoulders when two girls asked if he wanted to dance.
He knows now that he should have said no. Shouldn't have been so accommodating, but when they began to grind on him, he wasn't the one who went running from the dance floor, it was his girlfriend. She still isn't speaking to him, in spite of pleas and tears.
"Those girls from Miami, they were different from the ones here," my wise 14-year-old observed.
"Compared to them, our girls are prudes," said the boy who sat on the sidelines watching and refusing to dance.
"Well," I said, "let's just call them more modest."
And, as I pulled the car into the garage, I felt pretty good about our move to this small town in central Ohio.
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