The finals were coming up, and Stewart was determined to be ready. He was sick of hearing over and over again about JP’s record, and that he was impossible to beat. “We’ll see about that,” Stewart said into his full length mirror, “it’s time someone taught JP a thing or two about dancing”. Adjusting his arm bands for probably the twelfth time, Stewart bent over for one more toe-touch and then grabbed his car keys. Jumping over his oblivious dachshund Boomer, who was at that moment completely engrossed in ripping to shreds his latest victim- a stuffed B-52 bomber, Stewart made his way to the kitchen and to the table littered with several weeks worth of mail. Leafing through the weekly fliers, lawn service pamphlets and credit card offers, Steward finally found what he was looking for. Carefully removing the contents from the large, pale blue envelope, Stewart smiled at the new bumper sticker with the kind of pride that only comes when something was earned the hard way.
Finally, he could show everyone that he had what it took; this year Stewart Goings would take down the champion. Slamming the kitchen door on his way out, Stewart almost ran to the back of his car and skidded to his knees by the bumper. Picking off a slightly faded blue-ish bumper sticker with his fingernails, he peeled the backing off the new sticker and with reverence, applied it to the newly vacated space on his beat-up ’98 Honda Civic’s two-toned green bumper. Standing back with his hands on his hips, Stewart looked at his handiwork and decided it was another job well done. Now he was truly ready.
Ever since he could remember, Stewart had loved to dance. As a toddler he clumsily twirled down every hallway and was predisposed to moonwalking everywhere he went. After years of being teased and secretly practicing new moves in the privacy of his bedroom, Stewart had finally stumbled upon a group that shared his passion. He finally felt he had found where he belonged. The group had started somewhere in the Southwest, some say Arizona, others claim New Mexico, but everyone agreed as to who it was that started the movement (as its members were found of calling it). Butch Silver was a legend. As a traveling motor home salesman, Butch had grown tired of the solitary life and looked for a way to connect with other travelers. One sweltering afternoon, during a traffic jam of epic proportion, Butch decided to stretch his legs a bit. So he popped his car into park and got out. In a moment of serendipity, his favorite tune came on the radio and without thinking Butch began to break it down right there on the highway. Seeing the unadulterated fun Butch was having, other motorist were soon joining in, each taking his turn in trying to out-dance the last. And thus, Stop, Park, Dance was born.
Now, 15 years later, the movement had become somewhat of an underground phenomenon and soon required a certain amount of organization to sustain it. In response, Butch created a website, online shop and forum where the basic rules could be communicated to all who joined Stop, Park, Dance.
The rules were simple:
All members would display their official Stop, Park, Dance (SPD) bumper sticker on the driver’s side bumper of their vehicle.
Upon seeing another member on the road, you would then get their attention by displaying the SPD hand signal.
At the next traffic light both members would then stop their vehicle, (placing it in park) jump out and initiate a dance off.
The last one dancing before the light turns green, wins.
Wins must be logged on the official SPD website.
In 2009 having hung up his dancing shoes for good following a devastating ACL tear in his right knee, Butch decided to hand his legacy over to his only son JP. JP was widely regarded as a show-off and somewhat of a schmuck, but no one could match his moves. He had held the SPD Championship title for two years and had no intentions of giving it up.
“Until this year”, thought Stewart as he started the car…it was time to get on the road.
Every year the championship dance off took place in a city in the Southwest. Since no one could remember where SPD officially began, a random southwest city was chosen each year in an attempt to honor its origins; hazy as they might be. This year, the championship would talk place in Albuquerque, New Mexico which meant Stewart had 17 hours to drive (and practice) before arriving in time for the dance-off of his young life. Once in Albuquerque, his mission would be simple: locate the now infamous Winnebago displaying the painting of a wolf howling at the desert moon that was JP’s trademark, and transportation. Upon spotting the wolf Winnebago, it would be up to Stewart to challenge JP to a dance-off (this had become more of a formality following the 2007 championships which disrupted Albuquerque’s traffic flow so dramatically it was decided to conduct all future championships on a closed course). Upon their arrival at the pre-determined dance-off location, it, as they say, “was on”.
Stewart could barely contain his excitement, and at each stop light jumped out of his vehicle and did a jig, or a pop&lock or some other move that would surely make an appearance later in the “big show”. Having made it as a finalist out of 4,028 members nationwide now seemed small in light of the challenge he would soon face. No one in recent memory had triumphed over JP, he seemed to be some sort of dancing machine with no penetrable weakness.
It didn’t matter though, Stewart had a secret weapon. A knowing smile crept onto Stewart’s face, “I can win this thing… I can win”.
Arriving in Albuquerque, Stewart set to work immediately and found his target almost too soon. Driving up so that he was parallel to JP’s Winnebago, Stewart rolled down his window, and when he saw that he had captured JP’s attention, gave him the SPD sign. A smirk crested on JP’s large, pimply face and before he sped off in a fog of diesel exhaust, Stewart could have sworn he saw JP draw his thumb across his throat and mouth “you’re dead, dweeb”.
Fury rose in a hive-like rash up Stewart’s chest and neck until his entire torso was the color of a desert sunset. Throwing his Civic into drive, Stewart raced after the howling wolf, swearing to make JP howl with disgrace once he was through.
JP was standing outside of his Winnebago, waiting for him with that same repulsive smirk when Stewart arrived at the desert course, roped off for their needs by some of Albuquerque’s finest. It was time.
Pushing on his headband and readjusting his arm bands, Stewart leapt from his car and stood nose to chin with JP. The music started. As was tradition, the reigned champion started things off. JP began simply enough with a top rocks Apache step. Stewart had expected that and decided on an Outlaw step. JP countered with a belly swim, Stewart with a side slide.
It went on like this for hours… each meeting, then exceeding the other’s moves without pause. Finally, Stewart knew it was time to pull out his secret weapon. Reaching in through the passenger door, Stewart threw what looked like a half-chewed stuffed airplane onto the ground. Leaping out in hot pursuit of the B52 was Stewarts’ dachshund, Boomer. Without missing a beat, Stewart began a breakdance routine of his own design right over the dachshund, somehow able to balance, swerve and hop over the wiener dog in such a string of coordination, ever JP was impressed. Culminating his routine in a Suicide and a double air chair directly over the still oblivious dog, Stewart knew he had won.
When the SPD ref declared the win official, Stewart dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. Upon seeing his master so overwrought in emotion, Boomer looked up from his stuffed plane long enough to place a wet nose under Stewart’s armpit before going back to his aircraft and its imminent destruction.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
Happy Easter, everyone!
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today, on the way to Easter services, Andy (the boyfriend) and I were breaking it down to one jam or another with a zest that was quite out of character for me at such an early weekend hour (I hadn’t even had my tea yet, for the love of Saint Pete!). As we were busting a move, I chanced a look over at the car next to me and saw looks of obvious disapproval and confusion on the elderly couple in their Sunday best. Somewhat subdued by their reaction, I found myself wondering, what if, instead of giving me the stink-eye, other motorists would throw decorum to the wind and start busting a move with me. Wouldn’t that be great? What if it became a whole movement of people dancing at stop lights with strangers, much like scenes taken from a musical. And BAM! A story was born. :o)
TWO: As many of you may know, I have a wee dachshund by the name of Joey Blue Tribbiani (yes, that’s his actual name). To entertain this pooch (and, admittedly, us) we provide him with a new stuffed animal every few weeks that he promptly destroys. Ripping stuffing out like it was the only barrier between him and the ultimate treat, Joey attacks these helpless toys with a vigor that is something to behold (if not a little disturbing). Yesterday we brought home a brand new toy for Joey, a stuffed military airplane the size of one and a half Joeys and he has been dedicated to its annihilation since it’s arrival.
THREE: On our drive to church we also go past a Winnebago dealership which inevitably inspires a conversation centered on buying one of these homes on wheels and traveling the country. In discussing the amenities we would each like to include on our ideal motor home, Andy decided his would have an enormous wolf airbrushed on the side, howling at the desert moon. He kind of has a thing about wolves (we both volunteer at a wolf-dog haven each week) and is dying to travel to the desert. JP’s Winnebago is a tribute to that conversation.
FOUR: Stewart’s car is based on the car I own, ‘Tink’, as she’s been fondly monikered. She’s the only car I’ve ever owned, and while she may not be the prettiest thing to look at, she’s always gotten me to where I need to go.