My girlfriend loves dancing.
She goes to dance class three evenings and one morning each week. She would really like me to love dancing too but anyone who knows me can take a guess at the likelihood of that happening. To say that I have two left feet would be to ludicrously understate the matter. I am - there is no getting away from it - one of life's clumsy buggers. Nature blessed me with the normal quantity of good qualities but a sense of rhythm and a sense of balance aren't among them. At the age of fifty-six I have barely mastered the skill of walking. I walk into things (and people), trip over paving stones, fall down holes and generally stumble through life with the grace and elegance of a three-legged hippopotamus.
Still, one does what one must and when she asks me to go along and sit in the corner and watch - almost certainly in the hope that I will be moved to join in - I go and sit in the corner and watch and then we go for a drink afterwards.
It's relatively painless, though pretty boring. She did it again last night - asked me to go with her to her dance class at the dance studio I haven't been to before. It was a small room and I stood (there being no chairs) at the back and waited. Occasionally I took a stroll down the dimly lit ninth floor corridor or spent a few minutes gazing out of the window at the lights of Baiyin* but the time passed slowly.
As I mused on the concept of time, I came to a realisation. While you are waiting for the expected end time of something tedious the boredom is of a manageable order. You look frequently at the clock and note with satisfaction that it is moving inexorably towards the end of the ordeal.
From one second after the expected end time things are a hundred times worse. Now the time drags like a lead weight around your neck. You have nothing to aim for. You cannot mentally say "twenty minutes to go" and ten minutes later say "well, half way there then". They might continue dancing for another five minutes or another five hours. So last nights lesson was, in theory to finish at nine and when it passed nine I found that I was pacing like a caged animal, restlessly marching up and down that corridor, sitting on the sofa that I found tucked in an alcove halfway along, staring uncomprehending at posters written in Chinese and generally wondering what I was doing there at all.
At nine twenty she came and asked me if I was bored. I admitted that I was but assured her that I would be happy to go on waiting as long as was necessary. She said that she would be a few more minutes - twenty more to be precise and even then she was leaving primarily because she had taken pity on me - the others in her group were still dancing.
I don't think I could dance if my life depended on it so I'm hoping that eventually she'll accept that my watching her practice in a group is unlikely to change the situation.