Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Dancing with the handicapped

Meg Casey
May 5, 1983

Dear Meg,

I am 19 years old and a sophomore in college. My family saves all of the back issues of the newspapers for me to look over when I come home, and the M.A.D. column is a favorite of mine to catch up on. I find myself relating to many of the people writing in to you and often wish that I could rustle up the nerve to pose questions to you also. To show you how ridiculous it has gotten, I'll admit this is the fifth draft of this letter!

My problem is this: I’m terrified of being asked to dance. One of my legs is much shorter than the other and because of this I must wear a corrective shoe. I've gotten so that that my limp is hardly noticeable, unless I'm very tired, and I've always been careful about to cover up the thickened sole of my shoe.

I'm really ashamed of myself for this feeling because I don't think myself as a self-conscious person and I don't act like one – honestly – I've never had trouble getting asked out. As looks go, I'm not bad, but just let some guy ask me to dance when I'm out with friends and I absolutely panic. The crazy thing about it is that I want nothing more than get out there and shake my wares, but I refuse - sometimes too abruptly. "What's the matter with me?"

D.A.L.,

Dear D.A.L.,

I don't think anything abnormal is "wrong" with you. Many, many people can't bring themselves out in the full view on a dance floor. This is not a phobia that is restricted to disabled individuals. It does take a bit of digs exhibitionist in a person to brave the empty dance floor before any other couples join in.

You'll have to decide one day (or night) whether the frustrated urge that has your toes tapping and your head bobbing to music is strong enough to overpower your self-consciousness long enough to give it a try.

I guarantee that their are three types people on every dance floor. those who think everyone in the place is watching them, those who hope everyone in the place is watching them, and those who don't care who watches them. With all that confusion going on, who the hell is going to tell which category you fall into? So fake it, and shake it! It is only hard the first time.

Once boogie fever grips you, within the first few numbers, you'll be carried away with moving to the beat and have forgotten the rest. If not, and you find that your enjoyment of experience is being squashed with embarrassment then, by all means, don't torture yourself. Go sit back down. You tried. But you never know unless you do.

Who knows, maybe you're the next Shirley Temple!

This was 25 years before Dancing With The Stars tried showing people that are not usually thought of as dancers as something interesting to bring in ratings.


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© 2015 to 2017 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
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