I was at an outdoor bar a few moths ago and a band was playing some blues music. On the makeshift dance floor, a man who appeared to be in his forties was dancing wildly with every senior woman who accepted his offer. He was clearly drunk and having a good time. At first I thought it was sweet but as the hour passed it became somewhat disturbing to watch though I couldn’t say why I felt that way. A little while later, an elder gentleman from the retirement community across the street came shuffling into the courtyard and began to dance by himself in front of the band. This was truly charming and I thought it was wonderful that he danced even without a partner. Now, had the younger man gone up there and danced in the same manner, I honestly would have thought he was foolish. If a toddler boy had danced right next to the singer, I would have thought he was adorable.

What is it about old age and babyhood that makes unconventional behavior and dress so much more acceptable and charming than unusual behavior and clothing in middle age? If a little girl or a senior woman puts on a big purple hat, a bright yellow dress, and hot pink shoes, we like what we see; it’s cheerful, and shows spirit. Put the same outfit on a 45 year-old woman… doesn’t she own a mirror? Is she color blind?

I love to dance and I always have. When a commercial comes along with a great song, I dance and it doesn’t matter that I’m lying down. If I’m in a store and something irresistible plays over the speakers, I dance right there in the aisle much to the embarrassment of my children (and the impact on them is only half the fun). Car dancing while driving is one of my specialties. My older children often look at me like I’m strange. Fast forward forty years when I’m dancing in my wheelchair, and they and my caregivers will smile fondly and say, “Isn’t she adorable?”

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