October 22, 2013

#69: The Lobby

From Weekly WCS Note #69:
The Lobby
A couple of years ago, I was asked to grab Annie Hirsch for an important meeting. It was hard. Annie was talking, if that's what you'd call it, with the parents of a 30+ year old guy in The Ten. I didn't know who they were at the time though. I just knew that this pair of parents simply wouldn't let Annie go. They were very insistent on telling Annie just how stupendous their son was. Very very insistent.

As I tried to pull Annie away, they practically grabbed Annie to keep her there. And as I heard all the glories of their son they were sharing, I realized who their son was. Annie confirmed it for me as we finally walked away. And even thought we'd broken away, Annie kept repeating apologies and frustration about them to me, their desires and the 30 year old son/boy/adult?

You see, even though their son was in The Ten, they still weren't happy. He hadn't won. He danced well, but he hadn't won. And they wanted Annie to change things. They pressured Annie, and Annie just felt so bad for them, so bad for them that Annie kept apologizing and agreeing about their son even after the, what I would call it, confrontation. Oh he was on the podium - placed second that day, and 2nd-5th for the last ten years. But that was not enough.

It was very very clear that this wasn't the first time these parents had done this. He's been around awhile. I hope by now you've realized that members of The Ten are frustrated that the same people keeping winning. Yeah, they are on the podium all the time, but all they care about is first place. Most are Nissies after all, but you have to admit... no matter what, most aren't going to win... and most never have. Those #1 spots are reserved.

I remember the year that the teachers who always win had to take five months off. So when the podium was announced for Classic at the larger event at the time, I half laughed and half teared up. I mostly felt ill. What had we become?

NO ONE up on that podium was happy. The winners? Who finally got to win for once? Went out to bow when their win was announced... and no one was cheering. The heads of the Church weren't up there... so why should they clap? And these weren't members of The Ten... so the definitely shouldn't clap! Who cares if they are world champions in ballroom and country? That means nothing in The Church!

I was so so embarrassed for this couple. To be so completely dissed and ignored by the entire ballroom upon winning. It made me squirm. But it didn't matter. They weren't happy either. They knew their win didn't mean anything.

And the other four couples on the podium? They weren't happy either - they all thought that they deserved the #1 spot now that the heads of the Church were gone. I turned to Nick and said, "wow - everyone up their looks extremely pissed." And they did. Good gravy. What a disturbing sight it was.

But back to this guys parents. As we walked away, hearing Annie feeling so bad and backed into a corner, all I could think was... Wow. This guys parents have been pushing for him? All this years? Really?!?! 

It really made me think. My parents? They introduced me to dancing... okay. But they've never seen me perform. They never attended the Open, despite it being less than an hour away, and they've never seen any of my routines. 

So, to think of my parents lobbying for me? They have NEVER lobbied for me - not in the slightest. Though it would've been nice if they'd showed up for even one of my performances, I would never have felt comfortable with them pushing the head of the WSDC to makes sure I place. Ew. Ew. Triple Ew!!!

So I tucked that little experience under my hat and moved on to other things that weekend. But I never forgot it.

Lately I've been thinking about this aspect again. It's begun rolling around in my head once more. The "parents" angle... hmmm.

Do you know? Almost every member of The Ten has at least one parent backing them... mostly mothers? Heck, the head of the The Ten's mother works for a member of the Council - and has for the last ten years. Haven't you noticed the mom's following them around? And I wonder, when the other "kid" I mentioned in The Church piece is not hired or treated well, did you know their dad or mom places a direct phone call to chew them out? Or that they are at the Open to make sure they are respected correctly?

About a year ago a mother of one of the All-Stars emailed a really nasty, disturbing and raging note. She wasn't on my email list, and her daughter is doing very well in Abstract, so I left it alone. You can't talk a Church member out of their beliefs.

Then, exactly one year later, her daughter took off her shirt in a Jack & Jill and danced in her lace bra for her spotlight dance. Got points for it and everything.

I expect her mom was proud.

There are SO many stories surrounding the creation of The Ten and the WSDC and the Points... and I just can't believe now, looking back, how many parents were and still are, involved. And if it's not parents, it's uncles, nephew's, siblings, etc. If you don't see their parents at events, you at least see them online or texting other dancers... making sure they travel, teach in their town, etc, etc, etc.

Mothers. Fathers. Lobbying for their kids. I guess that happens in other sports, but in our case, Annie listens, acts, and even talks down their competition to the judges.

Thank God my parents never put Annie in a corner and told her to make sure I got the No. 1 spot. I might have been a member of The Ten.

And that's just the scariest future I could imagine.

I am a lucky lucky girl.