Green Light & Dancing Man

“Dance, or fade out.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, this waiting at a green light. And for what? I craned my neck to see around the SUV ahead of me, but I had nothing on which to focus my anger. I was just about to lay on my horn with gusto when I saw a man. It must have been like when the Jews saw Jesus walking on the water, except this man was in the middle of an intersection, and he certainly wasn’t Jesus. Oh, and he was dancing.

Earbuds in, swaying to the beat that only he could hear, he wore a leather jacket in 60 degree heat, oblivious to the elements. Oblivious also to the hard stares from the motorists who waited with hands raised above horns, with epithets painting the corners of our lips. We had places to go and things to do, and this man… well, he was standing there dancing.

I love to dance, to sway my hips to a particular beat, usually in the comfort of my own home, but this wasn’t the comfort of his own home. This was the streets of Utica, NY. This was rush hour traffic. Honestly, I’m surprised no one ran him over. If my kids weren’t in the car with me maybe I would have given him a nudge. Okay, I wouldn’t have. And he was an interpretive dancer too, the kind I usually like, but there’s a time and place for everything.

It wasn’t like this was some one man flash mob or something. It wasn’t like this was 2005 or something. A dancing man in the middle of the street against a green light for traffic… it’s just not done. At least not socially anyway. So we sat there waiting for him to shimmy along to what I could only surmise was a Gwen Stefani song, to reach the island in the middle of the street so we could safely pass and flip him off in the process. 

Except no one flipped him off, this dancing man. Maybe because we saw in him a little of our own self-restricted selves, begging to slip free.

And dance. 



Getting Carded

Did you know that the highest percentage of greeting cards printed, distributed, and sold are specifically created for mothers? Of course it is, because most people have mothers who are active in their lives, or they are mothers who have appreciative children. Get well cards are second, and that makes perfect sense as well. We know people all the time who are sick, and the courteous thing to do for them is at the least to send a card. Then there are the sympathy cards, the Father’s Day cards, the graduation cards, and the generic Christmas cards. Cards for sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandparents, grandchildren, and even “someone special.” But where are the cards you need for the people and occasions that are currently omitted by the card companies?

Imagine this:

Your cousin’s wife’s mother just got the role of Nanny McPhee in the playhouse of the same name. Do you get her a generic “Congratulations!” card with a message like, “Great job!” or “Job well done!”? She’s almost like a mother to you, but you can’t get her a card for a mother. I propose the “Just Like a Mom” card, that covers everything from the lady next door who gave you one of her chickens, to the old woman at church who smiles at you every Saturday, to your cousin’s wife’s mother, who would definitely appreciate the personal sentiment, and the idea that you consider her a mother figure. Inside the card would say, “You’re as special to me as special can be. Congratulations!”

Or this:

Your wife’s mother’s husband (not her father) just had gallbladder surgery, and it was touch-and-go for a while there. He’s not a spring chicken, and he almost died, but he survived and is pulling through. However, he has to stay at the hospital for a minimum of three weeks. You need to get him a card. Do you go with the overused “Get Well Soon” card with a message like, “Heard you were under the weather. Get better.” or “People like you always come through. Get well soon.”? You’re not necessarily close to him, but it’s important to your wife that you send something that is meaningful. For this occasion, I propose the “Tough as Nails” card, that covers incidents like falling off a ladder, throwing out your back, or a gallbladder surgery. Inside the card would say, “For someone tough as nails, recovery never fails. Get well soon!”

Or even this:

A work friend has a leap year birthday, and you know she’s very sensitive about having her actual birthday come around once every four years. The office is planning a party for her on her actual birthday (it’s a leap year) and you want to make sure she knows you appreciate her pain at having a birthday on February 29th. Do you get her the underwhelming “Happy Birthday!” card that you know everyone else is going to get, that has the saying, “Another year down, no time to frown!” or “It’s a birthday for you, hope it’s happy too!”? She gets to her office late most mornings, so you get there early just to make sure your card gets to her before anyone else’s. I propose the “Leap Higher” card, that highlights what it means to be an eight-year old working with forty-year olds (I know she’s not really eight, but every four years is every four years). Inside the card would say, “Leap higher than before, because you’re one in four! Be unique! Happy February 29th!”

We could start a website for those “forgotten” people, the ones who aren’t generic, so why would we give them generic cards? How many times can a person see the same sentiment. There, you could find cards for every occasion, and for every type of person. Humorous as well as thoughtful (and sometimes at the same time). What other types of cards do you think we could sell there? I’m excited.


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