Published Sunday, July 15, 2012

Time to dance

The Grandson: [interrupting] Hold it, hold it. What is this? Are you trying to trick me? Where’s the sports? (Suspiciously) Is this a kissing book?

Grandpa: Wait, just wait.

The Grandson: Well, when does it get good?

Grandpa: Keep your shirt on, and let me read.

(The Princess Bride, 1987)

Marriage and family counseling experts stress the importance of “dating” your spouse, especially when you have children.

Get away, take time for yourselves, just the two of you. See that movie, hit that fancy restaurant.

These experts must rarely have children, and their pearls of wisdom show they have no concept of the term “baby-sitter.”

I like the idea, but let’s face reality.

First, those dates can get pretty expensive. But you finally get away and talk about... the kids. And you promise to drop that subject ... and then sit there and stare at each other. So you fill in the silence by... talking about the kids. Does this not defeat the purpose of said date?

Second, life gets in the way. The Little Black Dress and I have moved several times over the years, toting along the various SONS of Thunder. Ergo, we do not have the “built-in” babysitters so many are blessed with; namely, nearby grandparents.

Other than obtaining the launch codes to the nation’s nuclear weapons, try getting someone to give up the name and phone number of their babysitter.

Need a big loan? Co-sign on your mortgage? Drive you to work for a week? Sure.

Babysitter? Um, she moved to Nepal. Phone number for the backup? Dang, where did I place that?

Feel free to correct me. I’ll wait.

Sometimes you can’t always have that special date. But you can still stop time. Enter The Dance and The Kiss.

Said Dance has varied over the years, although for The Dress and I, it usually happens in the kitchen. Something will trigger it - a song, a glance, a child running in screaming about not wanting to be the “blindfolded prisoner” in the neighborhood Airsoft execution squad game outside.

A few stand out.

One many years ago involved Eldest SON, who was four at the time and decided to join our dance. At the same time, one-year-old Second SON was wrapped around my leg and I was pretty much just shuffling him along and trying not to trip over four-year-old and fall on The Dress. But we had The Kiss.

Another was a couple of years ago. The Dress had recently lost her mom. A song came on and she asked me to dance. I walked over, put my arms around her and proceeded to knock over and break a small vase. It was her mom’s, one she loved. One The Dress wanted to keep as a memory. Somehow, we still had The Kiss.

There was another Dance a couple of days ago. A song came on, one we played at the funeral for the The Dress’ dad who died about a year after her mom.

You never know when the Dance will occur, but you seize the moment.

We started The Dance and Youngest SON walks in, goes “ugh,” and walks out. “They’re dancing again,” he informs his brothers. Apparently our timing was not well received as they were waiting for us so they could restart the latest taping of Man Verses Wild or some such thing. We still had The Kiss.

The Dance stops time. You forget the bills, the sibling fights, the laundry, the much-needed car repair, the stuff of life. For a moment or two or three, you just hold on to your significant other.

How or what you dance is not important, that you dance is what matters.

And The Kiss is just that. A physical chance to remember what was, what is and what will be. To focus on the good; to acknowledge that whatever comes, “we will get through this,” as The Dress likes to say.

Babysitters can be hard to find. And one day, you won’t need them. And one day, you might be the sitter. But The Dance and The Kiss are timeless and always there. Just waiting.

Grandpa: (off-screen) Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.

(The Princess Bride, 1987)


(John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog (Just Flip The Dog) is at 

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