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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 11.14.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Ridiculous? Still got the moves...

At what point do we become ridiculous?

As we get older, this is a question we should all ask ourselves from time to time, an arms-length self-assessment of our habits, styles, and actions. And if you can't objectively do this yourself, well, that's why we have spouses.

When, for example, does a dude sporting a ponytail go from "keeping it real" to "creepy for real"?

Or a mother sporting fashion that would be more appropriate for her 17-year-old daughter (and borderline appropriate at that), when does "You go, girl!" become "Good God no, girl!"?

My wife and I attended a show at a concert-bar in Montreal recently, two stiffs in their forties surrounded by twenty-odds and tattoos, hanging at the back because up front the music might be too loud, the dancing too elbowy. Were we at risk of becoming objects of ridicule in such a venue?

And given that during the break before the headliner came on stage, we remarked wistfully that normally we'd be in bed at this hour, shouldn't that have been our first clue?

A few weeks ago, I climbed the tree in our back yard, just because I could.

"Dad," said Abby. "You're too old to climb trees." What she was really saying was that even though I can doesn't mean I should, which is a shame because I'm still really, really good at climbing trees. It says so right on my résumé.

When making such self-assessments, it's important to differentiate between elements that are inherent to your style or personality, such as taking stairs two at a time, and things you simply can no longer pull off, like sliding down the banister.

But between not-ridiculous and ridiculous, there is a grey area: ridiculous with intent.

I went shopping with the family the other day. Apparently I was being punished for something.

I have a bipolar relationship with shopping: mopey or madcap. Mopey is the default setting. Madcap comes about when you realize you're in an artificial environment surrounded by oblivious people wrapped up in their own concerns and coupons. Caffeine also helps.

We were in a clothing store I'll call F&C: "Flimsy & Cheap," the type of store that's as much about the displays as the clothing. Even the racks look great. "Nice rack," you can say out loud and no one will bat an eye, for reasons I mentioned above.

F&C also had the requisite music -- not quite so loud that you had to shout above it, but impossible to ignore. Consumer disco, you might call it, with throbbing beats and inane lyrics:

    Oonts! Oonts! Oonts! Oonts!

    "Rub'gainst my cheese grater cheese grater cheese grater baby baby.

    Melt me if you please later please later please later baby baby..."

    Oonts! Oonts! Oonts! Oonts!

You get the idea, although there are in fact no food-related dance songs (with the exception of those involving candy, sugar, honey, or ketchup; your kids will explain).

As Abby pored over the selection of Sqin jeans (because the letter Q is just like K, only qooler), I had two choices: I could mutter and sigh...

Or I could dance.

I think we can all agree that a 45-year-old man dancing to sad disco is in itself pretty sad. Dancing in a store, equally so. Dancing to embarrass your 10-year-old? Classic.

"This one looks good," Abby said, holding out a shirt.

"You know what else looks good? My moves!" I said, as I held up the roof, which was clearly on fire. I put my hands in the air like I just didn't care.

Oonts! Oonts!

Abby started to walk away. I backed up in front of her, shuffling to the left, to the right. Uh-huh! Uh! Yeah! Uhh! Uhh!

"Hey, Abby, let's look over here," I said, switching from disco to ballet as I leapt into Girls' Bottoms. I think it was a jeté. Or maybe a reject, eh? Whatever. Back to the boogie, baby!

"Dad! You're embarrassing yourself," said Abby. "And you're embarrassing me!"

That's right: ridiculous with intent to embarrass. I can still put it off!

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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