Dancing while being physically distanced sounds like jive talkin’

News item: PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — About 40 people attended a dance for Platteville High School seniors where at least some attendees did not appear to wear masks or physically distance themselves.

Dancing while physically distancing themselves? How do you do that? And wasn’t it part of the plot to Footloose? If it wasn’t, it could have been.

If today’s students figure out how to dance while physically distancing themselves because of the pandemic, I offer this tip to the deejays at high school dances everywhere: Scratch this from your playlists. On second thought, maybe students don’t slow dance to Journey these days anyway. It’s been awhile since I attended a high school dance. Or a college dance. Or really any kind of dance. The last dance I attended was at a wedding nearly a year ago. And we were not physically distanced, but we may have spent as much time not dancing as we did dancing.

We need to change that.

For the past seven years, I’ve had a great dance partner and we should go dancing more often. I haven’t always been so lucky. If you want to know the truth, I sometimes may have been physically distanced at dances in both high school and college. Not always by choice.

But the idea of students not being able to dance unless they are at least six feet apart and/or wearing masks reminded me of high school for another reason in addition to the distance I remember girls keeping from me.

I’ve written about this before. At some point, I started drawing editorial cartoons for the high school paper, which was published weekly as a page in my hometown newspaper. The idea of being physically distanced while dancing would have been good material for the smart-ass who learned at a young age he could make some people laugh while also making others plenty angry just by drawing a picture and writing a few words. Learning I could get a rise out of grownups I didn’t even know was a great feeling. I’d submit cartoons as letters to the editor in the Des Moines Register, which published several of them. Sometimes, they were followed by anonymous hate mail from places in Iowa where I had never been. And from adults who never stopped to think I was just a kid. I loved it even though my mom maybe didn’t.

Cartoon I drew in college — some were funnier than others.

No doubt, inspiration about dancing far apart would have hit in the middle of a class and I would have started sketching in a notebook instead of paying attention. (At least I wouldn’t have been sleeping.) Or it might have happened when I was supposed to be doing chores on the farm. I would have stopped what I was doing, run to the house, grabbed a sketch book, roughed out the idea so I didn’t forget it and then gone back to work and finished the cartoon later. If the idea had hit me at a dance, I would have probably gone home early so I could draw the cartoon.

I spent a lot of the free time I had then drawing cartoons. Back then, we only had three or four channels to watch on TV. No one I knew had even heard of the Internet. Other teens were playing home video games on Nintendo, Sega and Atari consoles hooked up to their TVs, but I never had one of those and never got into it. So before I was old enough to legally drive, I drew. I kept drawing cartoons in college and for a while after that.

The cartoons led to jobs taking photos and writing and then editing stories at newspapers. And the rest is all history now. It was a lot of fun for a long time. And that’s no jive talking.

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