Wither Dance the Oats?

“You will never know,” advised a boy about my life’s entire future, a boy whom I had just met, “Unless you sow some wild oats.” This was back in October. He was/is married, interested in me only for my story because, he said, it sounded so familiar. He had once been separated for a year and was miserable for most of it. He then went back to his wife and all was wonderful–spectacular, actually–for the next year. He has been mostly miserable in the five years since. Hence, his unsolicited oats advice.

Every time I feel the self-imposed pressure to make a decision about what is next, I think about those oats.

He called a few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, as if he knew both the precise location of the crossroads I find myself and the need to talk to someone who has also visited this very scary place. “No matter what you decide, you are still the gutsiest person I know,” he concluded, when it was clear I had reached no conclusion whatsoever.

Gutsy? Ha! So little does he know.

Gutsy is the gal I met this weekend in the fully contrived club scene known as Disney’s Pleasure Island. Like all the other partnerless women in one spot, we were enjoying a round on the dance floor to a Rick James video. (Yeah, I know, Rick James–how can you not dance?) She made it clear she liked me. I made it clear I wasn’t ever going to be her type. She made it clear she was fine with that and said we might as well dance until the song was done. Would that it was that simple with men.

In the next few minutes, I learned she had lost more than 65 pounds in the past year, and that she owed much of this accomplishment to this very dance floor. “I dance to keep losing weight. I hate exercise. I hate health clubs. I love to dance, so….” So yeah, dance on and on.

I pointed to a large woman leaning on the railing above the dance floor, with whom I had seen this one talking. “Why aren’t you dancing with your friend?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s my sister,” she replied. “And she can’t dance. Bad back, bad knees. All kinds of health problems.”

That seemed too bad, because this sister was swaying and tapping her feet like all women do when they are dying to be out on the dance floor but are too shy to go it alone or ask someone to join them.

“But she obviously wants to dance,” I said.

“Oh, she’ll dance again, soon. She’s already lost 35 pounds. Another 25 or so, and she’ll be dancing. We’re in this together.” My dance partner reflected for a moment, then said, “Sometimes, a guy comes up to us, maybe gets a little too friendly with my sister, you know? But I got that covered, too,” she smiled. “I just show ’em my knife.” Guts she clearly has aplenty.

If I had guts, I’d watch every episode of every season of “Sex in the City” and then use any couple of issues of “Cosmo” as follow-up CliffsNotes–you know, so I could get up to speed on all that goes on with today’s oats. Instead, I am an uncertain and nervous wreck, even as a girl I hardly know pretends quite convincingly otherwise in my so-called dating world.

If I had guts, I wouldn’t hear my mother’s voice from three-and-a-half decades ago reminding me that “playing the field” is quite proper and that “a girl who is too available is also viewed as too easy.”

If I had guts, I’d scoop up handfuls of the oats and toss them in the air for the sheer fun of it, allowing them to scatter about in the wind, landing where they will. I would not care if I was simply another girl in another port. I wouldn’t hang on every text message or wonder if the thrill of a chase is over before it’s really begun. Because I’d have the guts to be joyful and excited for the sake of the moment as it unfolded–past sadness, current guilt, and future worries shoved aside and out of mind.

I need a split personality, I think. I need to learn how to really relax and live for today and only a little for tomorrow. I need to allow myself unconditional happiness–just plain old, honest I-don’t-care happiness. Happiness lived in my moments here, because I will never have these moments again, ever.

And I guess that gets back to the oats and, of course, guts. What I really need are the guts to sow those oats. And maybe a knife, just in case.






9 responses to “Wither Dance the Oats?”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Who is the gutsiest person – the one who has no fear, or the one who has the fears but moves forward anyway?

  2. María José Avatar
    María José

    I hate having something to say and not being able to say it in english…I guess the point is, i’ve always wanted that kind of happiness too. But i end up thinking that maybe not having is a part of me that goes togheter with being considerate, reflexive and having an inner life.

    i dont know. I’ve re-written this one too many times, but i hope you get the point…

    please dont get a knife! hehe

  3. Jennifer Avatar

    My dear, you are indeed incredibly gutsy. Don’t diminish all that you’ve accomplished just because you feel you haven’t reached “your goal.” Most times the journey itself is far more useful than reaching the destination. And if I work really hard at it here, I can insert a few more cliches… 😉

    Anyway, your trusty readers can see how much you’ve grown over the past year, and we’re proud of you. Time for you to be proud of you, too.

  4. Rose Royce Avatar
    Rose Royce

    Parental approval/ disapproval; does anyone ever escape it at any age? I sometimes wonder if when you die, you’ll stand at a cross roads, presented with two paths and wonder “that path looks interesting” but maybe my mother “would rather I went that other road?” Then eventually you meet your mother and she’ll say “I don’t know why you took that path! Sometimes I don’t know how you make your decisions! You always had to do it your way, no matter what I said or thought!”

  5. Deanna Avatar

    I’m pretty sure there’s nothing to be learned in Cosmo or “Sex in the City.” You seem to be a strong, confident woman who has moments of doubt like we all do. You’re way too smart to glean any advice from a couple of sources like that. I don’t think that would be you. And being you should be at the core of whatever you decide to do.

  6. JoeInVegas Avatar

    Dancing at Disneyland. I hope the dog had as much fun as you thought it would. but they will never tell.

  7. Phil Avatar

    This reminded me of a quote from Dwight Schrute, of NBC’s “The Office” sitcom:

    “My girlfriend and I broke up recently. And I must say, I am relieved. Gives me a chance to sow my wild oats. In the Schrute family, we have a tradition, where when the male has sex with another woman, he is rewarded with a bag of wild oats left on his door step by his parents. You can use these oats to make oatmeal, bread, whatever you want. I don’t care – they’re your oats. “

  8. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal


    Maria Jose–I love your comments. You can feel free to comment in your language, too.

    Jennifer–I cling to those cliches!

    Rose Royce–Isn’t that the truth. Thing is, my mom has been gone for several years now. If I could rewrite much of her medical/emotional history, I would do anything to have her to talk to now.

    Deanna–Um, but, what about, you know! Ha ha. And yes, I know exactly what you are saying. Just trying to believe it counts.

    JoeinVegas–Disney World, my friend, and yeah, what an image. The pup LOVED the kennel and did not want to leave. Just as I suspected. We will go back to visit, just for that!

    Phil–This is why I adore you.

  9. Lisa Avatar

    I know this is an old post, but I was on vacation for a month and am just catching up 🙂 I had to comment on this post. While I was on vacation I had a chance to dance with a fabulous Italian dancer in a vineyard in the Tuscany region. At first I avoided the dance floor cause as my mom put it “You’re married – behave like you’re married” But slowly the music and the wine that were flowing through my blood took over and I was in the middle of this crowd of people doing a combination of many different dances and being spun around and led by this fabulous man. At that point the only thoughts going through my head were “I’m dancing in a vineyard in Italy.” That is something that I will never experience again. At that point I felt free, beautiful and young (which is sad to say seeing as I’m only 26). To me, that was sowing my wild oats and it felt amazing! Don’t ever pass up a chance to do what makes you happy. You are incredibly gutsy – you are someone I think of when I’m trying to chose to do the thing that makes me happy versus that which is safe….