Learning the Chicken Dance at 88.

I remember learning the chicken dance as an adult at the first German wedding I attended. As I thought, “How ridiculous!, You want me to do WHAT!?!” Then you begin the dance with the hand beaks comes a smirk, the chicken wings bring on a smile and by the time you are shaking your bottom, you are beginning a laugh. By the third rendition, it is raucous frivolity. EVERYONE has fun…even if you don’t want to.

My grandmother is on her way to 90 years old and when you get a call that ‘the Sarge’ has slept until 2:00 PM, you pay attention. This is the Baptist Sunday School teacher who doesn’t dance, drink, curse or any of the other vices. In the strange way the Universe delivers what you need when you need it. We went to visit and my son had a ipod touch. He happened upon a copy of the Chicken Dance song and I taught my four year old son and my 88 year old grandmother the chicken dance on the same day. To be fair, my son has the body of a four year old, but sometimes struggles with what moves comes next and Grandmother could get the moves if only she could stand without her walker.

What started out as a trip to see my Grandmother and make sure my mom was okay, didn’t end as I expected. It ended with the Chicken Dance and laughter all around. RIDICULOUS! Some things cross ages and races and points to the ridiculousness of taking life too seriously.

I’m glad I lived in the Midwest and attended some great weddings with chicken dancing extraordinaires. But the greatest gift I could give to an old lady on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was a couple of nuts doing the chicken dance. It makes me remember Whitman’s words on  life, that each of us should heed while we can.

By Walt Whitman 1819–1892

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1892)
Today, my verse was the Chicken Dance in all its glory…
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