We went to the Green Mill last night on Broadway in Chicago — it was an impromptu outing, after fantastic Ethiopian food with friends. Rachel said, “We think we want to see some blues,” and they pointed across the street and said, “That's the place you should go.” And so of course we did, because although we’re not perfect yet at saying yes when every opportunity presents itself, we are good enough at it to have walked across the street and paid the six-dollar cover charge and asked some nice French couple if we could squeeze into their table and watch some swing.
But, you know? I still need to practice those obvious yeses — the ones that cost you nothing but leave with so much more, and the ones that cost you lots and still leave you with so much more. The minute the band started playing, three or four couples who obviously knew how to dance hit the floor, and I watched them, mesmerized, thinking about how much I love watching people enjoy themselves on stage. I was thinking about how much I admire people who know how to do things: swing dance, bowl, play guitar, make pots, what have you.
I was thinking about how I don’t know how to dance like that and that I probably would never learn. And I watched some of the younger, goofier, more awkward couples hit the floor amongst the practiced dancers, and I admired their courage for getting up next to the pros.
And then an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said, so cordially, “Would you like to dance?”
And I wanted to tell you a whole different story, about how I got up and it didn’t matter that I didn’t know what I was doing because he was such a skilled leader that he whirled me around and I managed to not only dance but enjoy myself in the process. I wanted to tell you the story about how, when the song ended, I thank you and he did too and we shook hands and maybe even hugged, and how then I walked out of the club grinning at one more Chicago experience.
But that’s not the story here. The story here is that I blushed and said the first thing that came into my head, which was, “Oh, no thank you.” [Subtext: I don’t know how, I’m too shy, I don’t know you and maybe I’ll look like a fool.]
And he went away, and Rachel said to me, “You should have danced!” And I immediately knew that I should have felt like a fool. But it was too late – the moment had passed. We talked about this in Atlanta at the Mom 2.0 Summit on the subway on the way to the Arcade Fire concert: how, when you improvise, you need to say yes: it keeps the story going. (And if you say no, it’s to facilitate a future yes.) I forgot that last night, but it was a good reminder. So, I’m going to let last night’s no facilitate a bunch of future yeses: I will dance, please ask me.