Those of you who know me, know that I am a socially inept monument to awkwardness. I know this too. For the longest period, I have lived happily with the fact that the set of me, and the set of society, do not intersect. At all. I've been at peace.
Then recently, I decided that I should try to change this. I should go 'out of my comfort zone' and meet the world. During the period when I was thinking this, I happened to read a notice proclaiming 'Free Salsa Lesson' in the college bus. If you are of average intellect or above, you should know what happened next.
Common sense demands that someone born with approximately pi left feet should not attempt dances. And yet, philosophical me won this battle against logical me. I decided to attend this lesson. The turnout? Approximately the same number of guys and girls. Reassuringly, the guys looked as clumsy as I am. Worryingly, the girls didn't.
Round 1: the basic steps of Salsa
Paired up with a French girl
Considering how simple the basic steps of Salsa are, I would have to be an absolute cretin to do this wrong. Thankfully I didn't do this wrong.
Round 2: the first variations
Paired up with another French girl
This pairing was not so bad at all. We got along reasonably well, and the dancing wasn't a disaster.
Round 3: intermediate-1
Paired up with an American girl
Now this girl was very excited about the whole dance thing. We agreed on the sequence of steps we would do, and then we did them. This was exceptional (by my abysmal standards). Barely a foot wrong, and fairly smooth.
Round 4: intermediate-2
Paired up with another American girl
This girl was a legit trained dancer. Unlike the other American, she wouldn't agree on what steps to do. She kept telling me, 'In Salsa, the male must lead'. I kept telling her that I was a rank newbie, and that I couldn't spontaneously decide what to do. Result - pointless hand holding, and stepping forward and back for the length of the song.
Round 5: advanced
Paired up with the last of the three French girls
This pairing was an unmitigated disaster. Like the American before her, she insisted that I 'lead' the dance. I was failing so hard at this point trying to figure out which intermediate variations I wanted to 'lead' her into, that I was getting the basic footing wrong.
Poor women. Must've had the worst dance partner of their lives. Anyhow, I'd learnt something socially useful. It was time to head home. I stepped out of the student centre to be greeted by pouring rain. I stopped at the nearest bus stop. After five minutes, a girl unexpectedly plonks her bag next to me,
"Keep a watch on that till I get back"
Two minutes later, she returns,
"Hi! Some rain huh?"
We begin to make polite small talk. Then, out of the blue, she starts discussing the geography of ancient Mesopotamia, and how it was between the Tigris and Euphrates. I have no idea how I even kept up this discussion, but I did. Then suddenly,
"PLEASE DON'T TELL ME YOU'RE WAITING FOR THE BUS!"
"Uhm, yeah, I am..."
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Buses don't come here after 6PM."
"Oh. I didn't know that. I guess I'll go to the bus stop on the opposite side of the campus then. Thanks, and b'bye!"
"Bye! Nice meeting you."
I walked in the rain to the next bus stop. In the bus stop, a grumpy man in a wheelchair stood beside a woman who I assumed was his wife. As I waited, an african-american (who I shall refer to hence forth as black, with zero negative connotations except the fact that it is shorter than african-american) joins us. The (white) guy in the wheelchair and the black man started arguing about something.
The bus arrived a few minutes later. The black man got into the bus. The lady followed. Then the grumpy man started telling the driver where he wanted to go. The driver (also black) politely told him that this bus would take approximately forever to take him where he wanted to go. The white guy started complaining about how he was a war veteran, and that that should stand for something. Bus driver didn't want to listen to him ranting, so he asked him to get on. At this point I realised that the white guy was very drunk, and the woman was not his wife.
Once in the bus, he sarcastically commented, 'It is so wonderful that this country has made such luxuries available to our guests.' (The bus was full of foreign students). He then continued to argue with the black man. He called the black guy over for a 'heart to heart' talk. Black guy retorted that he wasn't gay, and didn't want to sit next to him. After much argument, he finally agreed. Black guy wanted to avoid trouble, so he went and sat next to him, patted his shoulder, and said something to the effect of, 'Let it be man, why fight?'
But the white man wouldn't relent, "Don't touch me... I don't like being touched by your kind."
"Then why did you call me?"
"Because I like to talk to the darkness."
So, not only was he drunk, he was also a racist. He argued with the black guy for a bit, and then rudely said, "You're dismissed, go back to where you were."
The black guy went back. Now the white guy started telling the woman who I had thought to be his wife, about how great it was to be in the army. She was responding with an indifferent 'Uh-huh' to everything he said.
At this point, the bus driver was tired of his ranting, and said, "Sir, if you don't stop talking, I am going to call the police and have them drop you home."
"Thank you driver, that will not be necessary."
"That's what I thought."
"I would like to say one last thing."
There was a moment's silence, and in this silence, the white guy raised his hand, and shouted, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
The bus driver absolutely lost it at this point. He stopped the bus, and got up to call the police. The white guy now started pleading about how he had asked for permission to say one last thing, and had not been denied by the bus driver. After much pleading, the driver calmed down, and continued to drive.
Realising that situation had now swung, the black guy started taunting the white guy, knowing that he wouldn't respond any more. Watching the white guy cursing under his breath and gesticulating was extremely funny. The bus driver was tired of their squabbling, and just kept driving. A few minutes later, the bus had arrived at my house, and so ended a memorable night in the USA.