Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Billy Elliot

There are things in life that some people are just born to do. I'd come up with a list of them, but I just watched Jack Bauer cut a Sim Card out of a Russian's stomach so I'm a little distracted. The following, however, is a story about destiny, fearlessness, and the lack of self awareness. I hope it entertains you.

This tale, like all the great ones, starts at the beginning. It was approximately 23 years, 3 months, and 16 days ago. I emerged from my mother's womb as most babies do, but unbeknown to all in the room I possessed a powerful gift that only few have properly utilized.

My glaring white skin.

See, the expectations for white guys are quite low in many areas. We aren't expected to jump high, have family reunions, or succeed at any rhythmic activity. This includes, but is not limited to, things such as playing the drums, battle rapping, and winning dance competitions.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. Take 5 minutes and YouTube "White guy (fill in playing drums, battle rapping or winning dance competitions)". I'll wait.

I'm sure by now your 5 minutes have turned into 35 minutes of YouTubing, the viewing of 4 or 5 Facebook albums, and you inevitably posting a few comments. I'm assuming you stumbled back onto the link for this blog, remembered what you were doing half an hour ago and are resuming reading right.........


Let's get on with it. I don't fancy myself an exception to any of those rules. I do, however, think I am clever enough to utilize my perceived weaknesses as strengths. Which is how I ended up with my life motto, "All it takes to win a dance-off is a little bit of choreography."

Apply that to your life at your discretion. Just know, it led me to where I am today: Widely renown as, "A legend in his own mind, arrogant in the minds of most, and, according to some, in possession of a few redeemable qualities." (Rules don't apply to me, I can quote myself within my own writing. Whatever.)

I'll cut to the chase. As I mentioned earlier, people of similar ethnic origins as myself tend to lack rhythm. This is the crux of all my success. That, and my unassuming appeal. So when it comes to dancing, most people lower their expectations upon first glance. Thats when I strike, like a rattlesnake from behind the bush you're peeing on.

When it comes to what I look like dancing, there are two schools of thought.

What most people think:

What I think:

That's how I get you. In most dancing situations you need three things to look like you know what you're doing, at least one choreographed move, an X-factor, and an excess of white people. You'll see how those things play out momentarily.

Having a large white family means lots of opportunities to spend quality time with large amounts of other white people. Beach trips, family gatherings, and, most importantly, weddings.

Its easy to hone your skills and build your confidence when everyone else in the room is slightly liquored up and hopping up and down to "Cotton Eyed-Joe". Before the night is over people think you have moves like Travolta! (Remember, we're dealing with white folk).

If you know the McGraw's you know one thing, sometimes we lack self awareness. Mostly by choice. We have a high need to be appreciated and liked. So we look past what most people would consider "risky" or "out going" and forge ahead. Don't believe me? Have you been here yet?

That's why when my church (Grace Covenant) hosted a Marriage Conference that featured a dance, I knew I had to bring my 'A' game. Like in "White Men Can't Jump" when Woody Harrelson gets off the train looking like a dweeb so he and Wesley Snipes can swindle some fools out of their money. I had to play the part of misplaced white guy in an incredibly diverse church, lurking in the bushes waiting for my moment to attack.

The time had come when the fatal words were announced through the speakers, "Let's have a couples dance off!!" It was on.

Let it be known right now that there was no way the rest of this story happens without my amazing wife. I don't know of another woman in the world who would dance as emphatically or as heroically as she did in support of our quest. I am forever thankful for her.

So there we are. In the final two couples, us and the music minister and his wife. Naturally, we're up against the guy with more rhythm than the rest of the city combined. Don't get it twisted, this guy is a RIDICULOUS musician. He knows what he's doing.

As I said before, to be successful in most dancing situations you need one choreographed move, an X-factor and an excess of white people. We had the first two, but we did not have the third.

We begin the showdown with generic moves, nothing fancy. You can't bring out the big guns yet. A robot here, a MJ leg kick there, nothing big. Then we played to our strengths. We're white people, we're dancing....we did what we knew how to do.

The 'shopping cart'. Followed by the 'lawn mower'.

Bam. Choreographed moves. Check.

The crowd loved it. Of course they did. Their expectations for us were low and we are there to entertain. We obviously weren't going to beat the music minister at dancing. Plus, what's funnier than white people doing generic white people dances? I'll tell you what. Those same white people cockily waving goodbye as they pushed their invisible lawn mower across stage in an attempt to end the competition right there.

This seemed to only intensify our competition. They wouldn't quit. It was time for our X-factor.

What everyone in attendance didn't know was that I had spent the previous five years intensely watching 'So You Think You Can Dance' and I was hip to this new "krumping" movement.

Let's just say I hit him with something that looked like this.

And it was pretty much over.

The moral of the story? I suppose there are a few.
- Don't let your perceived weaknesses get in the way of achieving everything you want to in life.
- You truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

and most importantly....

- You don't ever want to challenge a McGraw at ANYTHING. You will lose. Or we will quit because the game is unfair.



  1. Good to know I can easily win this thing next year! Congrats hombre!

  2. Any video footage?

    I know your back must be killing you from carrying Michele to the victory.

    Classic post though

  3. please wes. i saw you dancing at your wedding and it was atrocious. you're just jealous