There are four main categories of ballroom dance: American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Latin, and International Standard. I realize that “American” makes two of the categories sound cheap and inauthentic, and that there are infinitely more people interested in, say, Argentine Tango than in American Tango. Really, though, there’s a lot of merit to American Smooth dances. They’re relatively easy to pick up, pretty, and enjoyable. American Rhythm is, admittedly, pretty useless – International Latin is more exciting. International Standard is very confusing. There doesn’t seem to be an identifiable basic step for either foxtrot or tango. I dropped that event.
Leaving rural New England for ten days in Texas and Arizona is a journey into the fact that we set no standard for the rest of the country. We’re the anomalies. The freaks. Of another place and time and culture altogether. Perhaps closer to Europe than to here. In Tucson, a city as wide and bright as the sky above it, a place that spreads itself loudly and colorfully along streets that span six straight lanes of American-made cars and trucks, I am the Other. In the contact zone. And that’s where I, as a teacher and learner should travel.
Chocolate chip cookies vary from ingredients, oven, altitude, and ratio of chocolate pieces to cookie dough. The standard proportion is two cups. My mom taught me to make cookies when I was still too short to reach the counter. But she’d plop me on the counter and let me mix. But she left me alone with a five pound bag of chips. Free express my culinary creativity, I dumped the bag into bowl. Chips covered the floor. The batter did not even have enough dough to hold the chocolate together.
An amazing concoction of chocolate deliciousness, this is my standard recipe.
I am standing at the bottom of lower standard. My hands are cold, my feet numb, and my face burnt, covered with ice. My cousin comes down the hill after me, spraying me with more snow, and I am pissed but remain happy, and then I get out for a break for the standardized SAT’s. I say hi to old friends – awkward – and go back to the room for a quick nap. I wake up to the instructor: Begin section. I’m tired and lazy. My eyes are very open just because they have to be. Pick up pencil, begin.
We go sailing in the summers and I love when my older brother and his friends can be on the boat with us. One summer they all started using the word standard. They all started to use it to express the usual or what they expected. So if you woke and up in the morning and said “wow I’m hungry!” one of them would reply “standard”. I think it is a sort of nice way of agreeing with someone and I also think it’s interesting to think about how words evolve to be used different ways in our everyday language.
-to see guys in Speedos on the beach;
-to pay $8 a gallon for petrol;
-to use plugs with two circular pins;
-to know at least one more language in addition to your mother tongue;
-to be exposed to a lot of nudity in the media;
-to smoke a packet of cigarettes a day;
-to pour wine into the glasses of your little kids;
-to own the place you live in;
-to go to church on a less than regular basis;
-to spend more time and money in convenient stores than in big supermarkets.