Redefining north.

Another Acceptance by Curtis VanDonkelaar

Another Acceptance by Curtis VanDonkelaar


PN's managing editor Tim Johnston calls this piece a warning, a reminder that we’re closest to those we can’t save, whom we eventually, finally, have to let go, even when we’re not programmed to.

Another Acceptance

Sometimes I can’t remember if I’m supposed to like to dance. This is not to say that I don’t know, or that I can’t know, or couldn’t say, but only that I can’t be sure when I did and when I didn’t, and really, what are you asking anyways? Whether I like to dance is the sort of thing that depends on context, like whether I believe my wife is getting fat, or looking old, or just boring the hell out of me on a Tuesday evening. Different answers, my friend, for different days, and that is another reason why I am a bad, bad man.

If I were stopped on the street, and someone held up a microphone, and had a question for me, “Do you like to dance?” I believe that I would say yes, I do. Emphatically, because it’s an easy question, as similar to and as innocuous as “Do you like winter?”

Yes. But only with very little snow. Too much snow is like too much sex. In the end, it’s just more cleanup and sore muscles.

“Are you a Virgo?”

I am. Born dead center of the cusps, depending on whose chart you follow. She was, too, if that matters for your annals.

“Do you follow the news of basketball in the off-season?”

Believe me or don’t, I would say, but I am a Virgo and I have always been.

If I were asked how long we lived as a couple, the answer being a year, just over a year, before I found the rock in her breast, sneaking up on me like someone else’s small and moving knuckle knuckling me back, and Sarah saying nothing, it’s nothing, it’s a nevermind—I would think about lying. I would say I have followed basketball all my life. Because not all lies are bad, just as not all children are cute.

“Does your wife like to dance?”

No answer. None of the above. Maybe yes, maybe she humored me, but I won’t tell the likes of you. This is the prerogative of a bad man, his privacy kept as close and warm as a fifth sheet of skin. We danced in that house which, I tell you, is true.

And I do like to dance. I find dancing cathartic. Not in the sense of good, sound psychology, of denial and acceptance, of a solid bowel movement, but of finally getting permission to spin so hard, and so fast, I can be sure it’s the world gone out of control and I’m the only one left in town who’s normal, who’s standing still, who disapproves of everything said and silent.

God damn if I could only cluck my tongue. It’s like bending your tongue, in half, they say, a genetic ability only some of us are born with. And I accept that since I wasn’t, I can’t.

Curtis VanDonkelaar ( has published recent work in such journals as Western Humanities Review, DIAGRAM, Hobart, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture at Michigan State University, where, perhaps not surprisingly, he teaches writing and rhetoric.

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