Last night I was a man. Well, at least for about 30-40 minutes. See, I showed up at the weekly contra dance at Lovely Lane Church, and there were a ton of women there, especially younger women. Plus, the Baltimore Open Band (a drop-in band) was playing, so a lot of the regular guy dancers were on stage playing music. So, I decided to help balance things out and “be a man” for a while.
I like switching roles now and again. It helps me see the dance and the dynamics from a completely different perspective. Contra is a called dance and a community dance where, quite unlike a waltz or swing where the man has full responsibility for the lead, he follows the dance but holds the lead inside of each of the called moves. Capiche?
Well, in one of the dances where I was being a man, I was dancing with a stellar and solid dancer. It was fabulous. Then she asked me a simple question: a question I’ve been asked many times before. Rather than answering it easily and fueling additional conversation between us, I found myself stumbling just to give her a couple of words as a short answer. I couldn’t lead *and* talk. Or, perhaps I should say, I couldn’t talk the way I’m used to fluidly speaking and hold the pattern of the dance in my head. To myself, I laughed and thought, This must be some of the frustration that men often feel when they are concentrating on something and women, with a profound capacity for diffused awareness, interrupt them, not understanding the significance of even a small interruption on their focus. It was quite informative for me.
Here’s an educational and entertaining YouTube vid on the subject of men’s single focus capacity and women’s diffused awareness.