Anyone who has attended a wedding or bar mitzvah within the past 30 years can most likely recognize that melodic, five-second drum tease as the beginning of Whitney Houston’s 1987 hit song, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
For the past three decades, the song has served as people’s cue that the party was officially starting — or, at least that’s what I thought.
Spoiler alert: I thought wrong.
Over the weekend, I drove my clueless self to Asheville, North Carolina, to attend a friend’s wedding on a farm settled in the valley of the Smoky Mountains. I was selfishly excited because the bride and I, along with nearly 30 others, used to be on the same athletic team, and we were all going to be there at the wedding/reunion — tomato/tomáto, right?
Needless to say, a group of 30 close friends can easily take over an intimate wedding — especially when it comes to the dance floor.Kathleen Gaeta/Independent Journal Review
But when it came time to watch the freshly minted husband and wife dance together for the first time, it was just the two of them. Inside a rustic barn adorned with hundreds of string lights, all 70 guests crowded around them as they simply pressed “play” on their wedding night playlist — they chose to celebrate sans DJ or band, and it was surprisingly much more intimate.
The dance was sweet — not too choreographed, but not too boring. They swayed, twirled, and kissed until the music ended. It was just a pure, beautiful moment between two people who were madly in love.
I’m not crying, you are.
Then, however, those first couple seconds of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” came on and I, like any rational adult, reacted with my signature “Carlton” move.
I proceeded to jump up and down, yell, and cheer with the hopes of getting people out of their own heads and onto the dance floor.
I was also having a really good time doing it and wasn’t paying attention to how hesitant everyone was. I continued to make my way around everyone with absolutely zero concern that I was the only person dancing.
As I swirled around, I locked eyes with the bride’s father who was dancing, too. It was so sweet to see him twisting his hips and smiling while doing so. “Aw, how cute! Her dad is dancing,” I said.
That’s when I noticed that the only people dancing, in fact, were the bride’s father, the bride, and me.
If it was ever possible to die from embarrassment, I would not be sitting here writing this. To quote my inner dialogue at that moment, I was dying. Did I just obnoxiously dance around the room during the father-daughter dance? Yes, yes I did.
It was no subtle “step touch,” either. It was a full-blown “Carlton,” followed by what I can only describe as a bad Zumba student — and don’t forget the loud “Woo!” and “Yeah!”
I turned back around, saw my friends’ jaws on the floor, and it was all I could do to slowly walk towards them. Throughout the whole, four-step journey it took to reach one of them, I was waiting to be told I didn’t just cramp one of the biggest moments for a father and daughter to share together. But, unfortunately for whatever self-confidence I had left in my alertness, I had done just that.
Despite having to leave the barn for a few minutes because I literally couldn’t wipe the “Help Me” expression off my face, I thankfully had a team of friends who had my back — and by that, I mean they just made fun of me until I was able to laugh at it.
I have done my fair share of really, really dumb things, but I can honestly say I have never, and hopefully will never again, be that embarrassed. Afterwards, I couldn’t bring myself to address the bride’s father about it, and I’m still convincing myself the bride didn’t notice me.
To be perfectly honest, I’m still cringing inside while I write this but, at the very least, it made every single person I told laugh harder than I thought possible. So, in a way, you’re welcome, everyone.