Appearances are Deceiving
Elita Sohmer Clayman

I am not ashamed to say I love soap operas. I have been watching them since I got married forty-seven years ago. I first started viewing one of them at one thirty in the afternoon. Here is why.
My husband had a grandmother when I married him. I never had any grandparents because they were all deceased before I was born. My new grandmother Annie loved to watch one particular soap called As the World Turns. So in order to have something to converse with her about, I would turn on this show. Then I would call her on the phone the next day and we talked about the story line. I did not care for her daughter who was my mother in law but I adored this little old lady who was my grandmother-in-law.

It was fun to talk to an old lady who was about eighty-eight then about the silly storylines on the serial. She and I conducted a lengthy discussion on the dayís happenings and I felt good knowing I shared a little moment in her life. I had always wanted a grandparent and she was it. She passed away a few years later and when my son was born, I named his male name after her female name as we do in our religion. We name our children after a deceased loved one to honor them. Her name was Annie and my sonís middle name is Alan. So this dear old lady who shared a small part of my life and heart because she loved this soap opera
NOW became a grandmother that I never had. I loved her so much.

We can all find a person in our lives that came into our life at a later time and who influences us a bit and we in turn influence them and we have something in common, even a soap opera story.

Many years ago when I was single, I was working as an administrative assistant to the CEO of a printing company. I had an important position with lots of responsibilities for a young woman of about twenty-one. The boss would entertain out of town customers or as they liked to be called clients and he would take them to a fancy restaurant and wanted me to go along as icing on the cake. That was my take on why I was asked to join in these little get togethers with him giving them a free dinner and sometimes hotel accommodations for a night. Once of these guests or clients was a young man named George and he took a liking to me. He was very handsome and debonair and I assumed he was single. He had no wedding band on.

When he came to town a few months later, he called me and asked me out for dinner, him and me. I went and he was charming and nice and especially good looking. Every time he came to town for business he would call me and finally one day he stopped. So I waited and when I did not hear from him for about three months, I decided to call his home. I went to the main office of the local phone company (only one in those days) and found a New York phone book and copied down his number.

I waited about three weeks and finally one day I called and a lady answered. I assumed it was his mother or sister as in those days we all lived at home until we married. I asked for George and she said who is calling and I said a business acquaintance from Baltimore, Maryland. She said what is your name, I am his wife Emily and I will tell him you called. I hung up. In those days, there was no caller ID and etc.

A few months later he called and asked for me at my office. I said George, how nice to hear from you, did you bring your wife along on this trip? He said we are divorcing. I said call me then when it happens. He had neglected to tell me he was married and he must have thought me a naÔve person who was enthralled with his good looks, his charm and his sweet line of passion he was feeding me.

The moral of that incident is that we cannot always distinguish what a person is about or doing or acting out. They may seem to be one thing when they are another. They may appear to be something they are not and they may be hiding some little secret. In Georgeís case, he was acting as if he was single and I was the object of his affection when he was a married man.

Many times when we are out dancing at a competition or a social dance or even a group dance lesson we will meet a stranger that appeals to us either as just a friend or maybe something romantic could happen. We talk, we dance, we mingle, we socialize and we dream of what could be taking place.

Once when we were social dancing on a Saturday night at the dance studio, there was a very short man who was dancing with a very short woman. We assumed they were married; they danced beautifully together and were very coordinated and enchanting in their movements. I was told after seeing them many times and thinking they were a darling couple that they were actually brother and sister. I then could see the resemblance after hearing that. So two siblings, each single had taken up ballroom dancing and they had no other partners and they enjoyed their dancing and their activity so much that they appeared to be a married couple or a dating couple to the average person that saw them dance.

Another time there was a father and he brought his young teenage daughter to the dances. She danced with her dad and a few younger men and then sat a lot. I found out that her mom had died and the dad wanted to go out on Saturday to dance and did not want to leave her alone so soon after the demise of the parent. She came often but after several months she stopped. This was not a place for a teen with all adults and so he ceased to bring her and let her be with her own age group. She had become an excellent dancer.

One day a fellow walked in with long hair and he reminded me of a singer named Tiny Tim. He came with an Asian lady and they danced very well. He looked quite weird with this long hair for this time in his aged life but when he danced you forgot the ugly hair and saw the two meld as one and danced the night away. They were a married couple. His hair was longer than hers and once you got past the mane you saw him as a different person. So looks can be deceiving and not an accurate noting of a person and who they really are.

Soap operas depict people who are often like ordinary people. Other times they depict people who are wealthy and powerful and who try to demean the every day person and from that evolves stories that go on and on. Many times a story will be relevant to life as it is now and of illnesses people have and emotional problems between members of a family and social contacts too.
People with long hair, brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, grandparent-in-law and just regular folks ballroom dance and when they dance, we do not know what their job or profession is. A short guy can be a revered physician or lawyer, a father can be a successful business man, a long haired fellow can be an accomplished certified public accountant and a granddaughter-in- law who found the love of a soap opera through her new husbandís grandmother can be a writer of dance articles.

Ballroom dancing brings together people of all walks of life and in doing so we examine our hearts and our souls and we find ourselves addicted to this inspiring activity that nurtures our every moment with hours of excitement and exercise. We do not need shows like Dancing with the Stars to enhance our days. Real ballroom dancers do not take seven hours of lessons six days a week to learn as these people do. They go about this in a manner that a normal ballroom dancer does not. We do not take forty hours a week, we could not afford the cost and our bodies could not take the rigorous activity. We with our teachers do not do the show stopping routines even with a competition. We do not learn one dance a day for the whole seven hours. If we did, we would not survive and continue on. We would be bored, tired and restless.

My main concern with shows like this is that they do not portray the reality of learning to ballroom dance. They portray a specified and intense manner of learning that is really not productive for us as regular people. I think that when we see someone in our group or our studio or our dance class who is really trying hard to become excellent, then that is who we should emulate.

The kid with her dad, the brother and sister, the long haired man and the soap opera addict (who loves to dance-me) are the ones people should imitate. They are the true and meaningful ballroom dancers who will inspire others to dance. That way ballroom dancing will survive any now and then crazes, fads or trends because real people like us are expanding the publicís notion on who ballroom dancers actually are.

Ballroom dancing is something meaningful to us and we need not try to be like stars on dancing shows. These shows are on for about ten weeks or so and then they disappear until the next season. We do not vanish or fade from the scenery. We are the panorama and the view is beautiful and we are ever the brightness of the dance floor. We do not fade away until next season hoping for high ratings. We continue on and we are constantly evolving into the best we can be.

We are the true stars of dancing and no show on for ten weeks and then gone can truly tell the story of dedicated dancers. Our belief in our own accomplishments and our desire to excel is a far better story than any so called reality ballroom dancing event on television.

We are the bright lights in the dancing world and no one can extinguish our joy, our delight and our spirit in what we do.
We are on fifty-two weeks a year and we need no loud judges to tell us we are doing well or not. We know we are. We are dancing stars and will do this forever. No commercials, no advertisements and nothing can stop us. We are excellent and we know it.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Baltimore, Maryland
January 2008

Keep on Dancing


Published by Renť Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL