One of the things I most looked forward to, after our family’s return to Brooklyn from Taipei, was taking Sasha to her Saturday-morning ballet class, held in a church in Cobble Hill. This is not because Sasha is a Natalie Portman-in-the-making. I mean, she’s a fine dancer for a 3-year-old, but she’s more into the idea of being a ballerina than actually learning her positions and pliés.
No, I like ballet class because for roughly 45 minutes, I get to hang out with the other dads who’ve brought their daughters. There’s the guy who lives across the street from me, the guy who works in a Chelsea art gallery, the graphic designer who once, long ago, came to check out my office. We talk about, well, whatever: travel, kids, art—I can’t even really remember much.
All of this is, for me, a novelty. There’s this image I’ve always had of unacquainted guys just hanging around, talking easily, and it’s an image in which I never pictured myself. I’m just not the type—too slight, too nerdy, and utterly unable to discuss that most guy-like of topics: sports. When I imagined such situations, I felt like a little kid myself.
But at ballet, it kind of works. There’s something nice about seeing everyone each week, drinking my takeout coffee and talking about iPhone apps or motorcycle trips or pre-K applications. There’s moms around, too, and we talk to them—this ain’t junior high—but there’s always some gender-based grouping off, as if the other guys, like me, relished this chance for some low-stakes, low-key male bonding. And it’s all over in 45 minutes.
In this election season, I like to imagine that we somehow form a real political bloc to which candidates should start pandering, for surely there are other ballet dads in other cities and towns and states. But then I realize: This is Cobble Hill, and we’re all just wussy liberals who are going to vote for Obama anyway.