Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dancing in the Street

One thing I've noticed when I go to work in the morning is how glum people look. They look like they're about to get their cavities filled at the dentist's office, or like they just finished watching a Keeping up with the Kardashians marathon. No one talks to each other; they're just focused on getting to their destination.

Once a random guy passed me on the street and said, "Good morning!" I didn't respond but looked at him suspiciously. I thought, What's HIS problem?

Sometimes, though, I get the urge to dance along to the music I listen to on my iPod as I'm walking around outside. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and I used to skip along the sidewalk just because I felt like it. Do you ever feel that way? When you hear a Lady Gaga song, don't you also feel the urge to put on oddly shaped clothes and just start dancing? Because I do.

But I don't. There are a few people who dance along to the music on their iPods, but other people usually avert their gaze and cross the street to avoid them. But I think that people would be even just a little bit happier if they could just dance in the street when they felt like it.

Check out this scene from one of my favorite movies, 500 Days of Summer. I love this movie not just because of the great acting, but because the writing's even better. I believe that the love story is most people's favorite story, and I like this movie's story because it portrays love without all the cliches.

In this scene, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is dancing on his way to work, and everyone else starts dancing too. Okay, maybe he's dancing because he just got lucky (wink, wink), but still.

There are other things that I feel like doing, but I don't do. I do what I'm supposed to do instead. And yet I think it would make me feel better if I actually did them.

For example, there's this group of people who hang out at my favorite coffeehouse. They are there for hours every day. They treat the coffeehouse like it's their own living room, because they have no consideration for the other customers. They yell greetings to their friends entering the cafe; they raise their voices and argue with each other on a regular basis, and they take up several tables even if there are only a few of them there. I don't expect a coffeehouse to be quiet, but I would like to be able to sit and relax without feeling the urge to fling my coffee in their direction.

It wouldn't be such a big deal if this coffeehouse wasn't within walking distance to my apartment, so I have to go further away just to buy a cup of coffee. (And I can't make it at home, because I like iced coffee and I don't have a blender. Or ice. Or a coffee maker, for that matter.) I contacted management about these people; the manager gave me a coupon for a free drink and said he'd talk to the people in charge. But I still see them there.

Sometimes, I wish I could walk over to them, slam my hands down on their table, and yell, "SHUT UP! You are NOT the only ones here!" And then maybe I'd knock over their drinks or spit in them or something. But I don't.

I work every day, even on weekends. Even if I don't have to teach that day, I still have my graduate work to do, plus my job for a website. But occasionally, I feel the urge to play hooky and do something else. I think about going to a movie (I only see about two or three movies a year), so that I could enjoy the luxury of an empty theater in the middle of the day. I think about going to Shedd Aquarium and making fish faces at the fish to see if they'll recognize me as one of them. I think about spending the whole day writing. I think about letting myself stop so that I could just breathe, so that I could think about something besides work for once. But I don't.

What do you wish that you could do? If you don't do it, then what holds you back?


  1. First, you totally can take a gratuitous day off and go see a movie during the week! I know you'd feel guilty calling in sick or taking the day off, but say you have to go help your mom with something or that you have a dentist AND a doctor's appointment, or anything. You can totally do that!

    Second, my favorite part of people watching on the subway is when you catch the people who're obvious SO into their music. They're bopping their head and tapping their toe and it's subtle, very subtle, but they are clearly rocking out in their little ways. It's supremely awesome.

  2. On the subject of dancing, I went to the Tate art gallery (the Liverpool one - yes we have one here too!) and there was an exhibition of how the human body has been portrayed over the centuries. There were headphones to pick up on the way in but it just seemed to be playing very lively music. In the middle of the exhibition was a dance floor - with the lights underneath and everything. You were supposed to dance - you would become part of the art. But I still couldn't do it. I would have it I'd drunk BEER before going in - that's the answer! 8-D

  3. Hi gem,
    I wish I could take the day off when I'm supposed to be teaching, but unfortunately if the teacher isn't there then the class itself is cancelled. But I have thought about taking a day off when I don't have to teach. I guess it's all a matter of time management, so that I won't be thinking about all the work I should be doing when I'm watching a movie.

    Hi brokenbiro,
    That sounds like fun! I'd feel self-conscious about dancing there too, though. It's hard to dance like no one's watching if you know that there actually are people watching. :)

  4. I understand how you feel. I often feel trapped by what I *should* and should not do. Things I wish I could do? Tell someone annoying in line at the store to zip it comes to mind. I totally get the coffee house situation - it would drive me nuts.

    Even if it's not hooky, you should schedule a day off and stay in bed late then go to a movie. So worth it. Oh, and get a pedicure.

  5. Hi Shannon,
    Getting a pedicure is always nice. It's always a relief somehow to be pampered, if only for a little while.
    It would also be a relief to tell someone annoying in line to zip it. :) I think the cashier might be grateful too.

  6. Hilarious!! I loved that scene in the movie! Ok, I'm one of those people that smiles at strangers and bops to the music in my head (without the mp3 player). I say - just do it!! We've all become so isolated from ourselves, even if it's the person next to us in the elevator. So you be that person, be that friendly face. And even if you don't get everyone dancing with you, like in the movie, at least you will be a little happier. As for the coffehouse gang - have you ever tried talking to them directly? Maybe they didn't even notice they were bothering the regulars.

    What would I like to do that I'm not doing? Hmm, prob ask some cute guys out on a date, lol.

  7. I love that scene from 500 Days of Summer--it's probably my favorite :D I wish I had more moments like that in life!

  8. Love that 500 Days of Summer bit.

    I hear you on the dancing thing. The most animated I do, though, is softly tap my fingers on my arm when I'm on the tube. That's about as much as you can get away with and still be considered sane!

  9. Hi Lissa,
    Thanks for the advice! I have thought about talking to them directly. I feel shy about it because there's only one of me and a whole group of them, and I think they're friends with the baristas or something. But on the other hand, I do want to be able to go to that coffeehouse without feeling irritated the whole time.

    Hi Catherine,
    It'd be nice if we could all have more moments like that in life. I try to write some of them into my stories...:)

    Hi Talli,
    I usually just hum along to the music. There are people who actually sing along to the music, but I think other people wish they would just dance; that way, they wouldn't make any noise. :)