Brenda and I are standing on the edge of the dance floor, close to the band. Our friends are gathered in a knot around a table, off to the side of the bar. They’re the senior citizen contingent in The Rec Room, this group of 55 – 70-year-olds eating the cake Ellen brought to celebrate her husband Gary’s birthday. They want to chat with each other, rehash the old days and catch up on the new. We’re all here because Gary
loves music, especially the blues, and a good local blues band is playing.
But Brenda and I want to dance. We always want to dance. I’m thinking opportunities tonight are bleak. None of our old codger friends want to do anything more active than move their mouths to talk and lift their plastic cups to their lips to drink beer.
Everyone else in the place looks to be well under 30. They’re playing drinking games that involve flipping empty plastic cups or passing full ones boy to girl, girl to boy, without using any hands.
So here we stand, nodding our heads and shaking our hips to the rhythms of these young musicians. I can’t read Brenda’s mind, but I’m guessing she expects some young blade to ask her to dance. After all, she’s light-bulb-bright charismatic, confidant and has a history of affairs with younger men. Guess that makes her a cougar.
How I hate that word. Makes her sound like a predator. She’s not. She’s attractive, successful and fun.
I’m thinking about how these kids are closer in age to my grandchildren than they are to me. It’s unimaginable that one of them would take pity on grandma and ask her to dance.
One of them does.
Not just anyone. A pretty young man, 25 at the most, slim, thick, curly blonde hair. Looks like a young Grecian god, like the ancient sculptures of athletes in museums.
We dance. I’m happy. I’ve gotten to dance!
The song ends, we separate and I expect him to thank me and go. He
doesn’t. He stays. He starts dancing with me again when the band starts the next song.
Then he initiates me into the social ritual at The Rec Room. He steps closer to me. He asks, “Do you live around here?”
That would be a no.
He says, “I haven’t seen you before. Do you come here often?”
That would be another no.
Then he asks, “What do you think of the band?”
The music ends. Once again, I expect him to disengage himself from me. But no, instead this beautiful boy indicates he wants to engage me in a third dance.
By this time I’ve had enough of cougardom. I touch his arm. I say, “You’re a wonderful dancer, thank you so much.” I kiss him lightly on his cheek and leave him standing there. I join my friends, the old geezers.
Birthday boy Gary high fives me, saying, “Way to go, Georgia! It’s your blonde hair and leather pants. Gets them every time.”
When the blonde beauty has disappeared from the dance floor, I venture back to Brenda’s side. She’s talking with a drunken young man. Five minutes of him are quite enough, so I slip a few feet from them to listen to the music.
My next partner appears. Someone age appropriate. His first comment to me is, “I just got a new hearing aid.” Here he taps his left ear. “Can’t get used to it.”
As we dance, he engages in what I now recognize as The Rec Room Ritual.
“Do you live around here?” he asks.
“I haven’t seen you before. Do you come here often?”
“What do you think of the band?”
Such repartee. Such originality. I hear it twice more that night. The exact same phrases, in the exact same order, from the mouths of another 20-something and another 50-something.
Meanwhile Brenda spends her time in the company of the inebriate. Well into the evening she approaches me and says, “I’m leaving now. Have to go into the office tomorrow. Need to polish up a client presentation. First, I need to extricate myself from my 21-year-old. This will be tricky.”
Twenty-one years old. She spent the evening engaged in conversation with a 21-one-year old.
More power to her.
And who, you might ask, was my best dance partner my night as a member of the cougar pack? Why, birthday boy Gary, of course. He always scores big points for technique, ease and grace.