i’m used to getting a lot of attention when i’m walking through bushenyi. after all, white people aren’t super-common here. recently, however, the amount of attention has increased significantly. in addition to the usual “mzungu!” (aka white person) and the ever-popular “mzungu! you give me money!”, i’ve been getting a lot of “mzungu! you got an accident?!” and “sorry, sorry, sorry.” the reason behind this sudden shift is probably due to the sweet polio crutches i’m using (yes, exactly like tucker in there’s something about mary, except i’m not faking it in order to get closer to cameron diaz).
how exactly did i come to need these “personal support devices?” dancing. of course.
shortly after christmas i was in a nearby city, mbarara. in the great city of mbarara there is a discotheque which my co-workers often speak of called club heat. i decided that since i was in mbarara, i would use this opportunity to integrate into ugandan society by checking it out. inside i found a fairly large number of ugandans dancing to a mix of local, nigerian and western dance music. while i can’t claim to be a good dancer technically-speaking, i would argue that i more than make up for my lack of skills with my willingness to make an absolute fool out of myself.
nearby i saw a group of ugandans having some type of dance circle. they were all waving sweatshirts up in the air. since i didn’t have any extra clothing items with me, i, logically, removed my shirt and began to whip it around in the air as i made my way across the dance hall (for into your arms, i knew i would fall.– that’s for you, liz) to the group. given my sporadic dance moves and bare chest, it only took a few moments for me to make myself the center of attention . one gentleman in particular seemed to be interested in challenging me (most likely he was simply mocking my dance moves, but i prefer to think that he was intimidated by my enthusiasm). soon it was just him and i on the dance floor. well, there were other people, but they were merely props we used in our semi-synchronized dance-off.
for the remainder of the song, we challenged and taunted each other with our mad-skills. once the song had ended, i was easily declared the winner (both in my own mind and by my interpretation of the crowd’s response- granted they were probably just cheering for my opponent, since he had just made a fool out of the white dude). just moments after the next song had begun, i felt a tap on my shoulder. it was my adversary. he wasn’t there to congratulate me, but rather there to challenge me to another dance-off (clearly evidence that i was indeed the winner of the first round). me and shameless self accepted the challenge.
this is where it gets a little fuzzy. i remember swinging my body downward and to the left. then i remember landing on the ground with my right kneecap protruding from underneath my skin, a couple inches from where it usually is. as i was seated on the ground in agonizing pain, no one around me seemed to notice that there was something wrong. instead, a local woman, assuming that perhaps this was part of my choreography started to dance on top of me. fortunately, it didn’t take long for someone to notice and clear the random back-up dancers from around me. as i was being carried out, my knee magically and painfully shifted back into place.
this is the first time that i’ve ever had an injury. luckily, i won’t be needing an operation (well, if i’m able to build my muscles back up through physical therapy). while it may be annoying to have people ask about my leg constantly, i don’t think i’ll ever get tired of proudly explaining how it happened. i’m recovering fairly well, and shouldn’t be needing my polio crutches for much longer (although i’m hoping to hold onto them until halloween so i can go as fdr. still looking for someone willing to play my probably-not-into-dudes fifth cousin and wife, eleanor).