Dancing With a Star

Dancing With a Star

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Tango anyone?

Perhaps the cha-cha-cha?

How about that Charleston or mambo or, dare I say, the Lindy?

Attention, all Shaindle’s Shpiel readers. I am giving you a moment’s warning. I am about to confess, so if you are not into hearing confessions, best not to read the next sentence. I am guilty of watching “Dancing With the Stars.”

There, I said it, and I am proud of it. Well, actually, I only have the patience to watch the last four or five episodes. They all work so hard. They shvitz like crazy. They break legs and sprain ankles. They have been known to faint, for goodness’ sakes. Some become too emotional to speak.

All for the want of a ball of bling. Seriously? C’mon, people!

I started dancing as I exited my mommy’s (z”l) womb, and believe me when I tell you that there was no ball of bling waiting for me.

At first, my poor dad (z”l) was so disappointed I was not a boy to carry on his legacy. He soon came to realize how truly lucky he was; I sure gave him a run for his money.

First of all, he was not an athlete in the pure sense of the word. A son would have surely wanted to play catch (tossing a ball back and forth with your partner, for those who don’t know what catch is).

Second of all, he had to work so many hours a week just to keep his family in the style to which we became accustomed — with clothes on our backs, food on the table and summer trips to the mountains. Let us not forget all my years at summer overnight camp, ballet, tap, baton, piano, cheerleading, and, of course, Yiddish shul (after school Jewish parochial school for socialists’ children, requiring cultural awareness).

He was also lucky in that I did not balk at learning skills typically reserved for the boys of that generation. I could look at the engine of the car and identify all the moving and nonmoving parts. I could fix a drain, install a light fixture, fix the washing machine, mow the grass, use a measuring tape, and build with hammer and nails. I could feel his pride in me.

Being smart in school was not such a big thing to him. After all, his goal was that I should be a secretary; I would not need college. Fix what needs fixing — now that’s a big thing.

I will say this, however: He loved to dance, and he was good at it.

Now you all know who bestowed the love of dance on me. He and I were a great dance team. Every bar mitzvah, wedding and family event, there were Hymie (yes, that’s his name — also sometimes Hy — Mom called him Hymush) and Shaindle on the dance floor.

There were so many issues on which we did not see eye to eye (OK, maybe that’s putting it lightly), but dancing — now that was the one activity that did not require discussions. It was the activity that made us shine, the activity where he was the star.

He taught me to lead; “You never know when you will have to be the man” (der mahn), he told me. I became a pretty good dance leader, just ask my sisters, cousins, even some of my friends. Although I do not believe they saw me as der mahn, I was acknowledged as the leader when we danced. My sisters and I can cut a rug. Dad did good!

Funny thing, though. We never broke a leg or sprained an ankle. We did not shvitz profusely, never even fainted. We did not need to warm up, did not need to practice for weeks on end. We just danced.

Yes, we just danced and smiled, our ball of bling spinning around from the ceiling.

Our prizes were those moments of peace, an unspoken truce.

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