The conversation came about when my very young at heart friend, bemoaned the fact that she thinks she’s lost her rhythm and her dancing days could be over. She’d been to a party the night before and, try as she might; she wasn’t able to get her groove on. Consequently, she’s decided that for her dancing might be a middle-age no-no.
Now, as someone who likes to bust a few moves around the house on a regular basis, I have to disagree. I haven’t lost my rhythm, quite possibly because I never had any to begin with. My dancing has always been more staggering around to the music than Billy Elliot. I have three main moves, any of which you’re likely to see if there’s alcohol involved. The first is a sort of pogo style and best suits anything lively like The Pogues or the Ramones. The second is my own interpretation of Northern Soul dancing and involves lots of spinning and careering about wildly so it’s not to be recommended in a confined space. I’ve smashed my shin on the coffee table and decimated enough vases to state that categorically. Lastly, I have my own signature move which is a shuffling variation on the sidewinder, it’s more versatile than you might think and suits most tempos. So you see, I’m quite the expert and don’t intend giving up my dancing days until I break a hip.
My friend’s other bugbear is that she fears she can no longer wear sleeveless tops or show off her magnificent cleavage without looking, well – old. Let’s face it, nobody wants to see flabby arms and a sun damaged wrinkly looking chest. Luckily for me though, I have no such problem. And no, not because I have miraculously retained a glowing, youthful physique but because I’ve never favoured the sleeveless, cleavage look. Even as a young woman, I was more of a buttoned up kind of gal. My favourite item of clothing is and always has been the good old cardigan. I like nothing better than a stylish little collar, whether on a dress or a shirt and, couple this with a cardi, and I’m in fashion heaven. My arms and chest have never seen the light of day so I’m not likely to be mourning the fact that I’ve had to retire them from service any time soon.
I do have my own set of no-go areas, however. The first of which is fairgrounds or indeed anything that involves sudden movement. I’ve always loved the fun of the fair – the noise and excitement of knowing you could be stabbed at any minute, but not anymore. My decline started a couple of Christmases ago when I visited Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland with my sister. One ride rendered me helplessly puking up my hot dog into the nearest bin and a pattern was formed. Now, I’m likely to be travel sick at the first sign of a jolt. The curious thing is, as a child I suffered from terrible travel sickness. On school trips, I was always the kid who had to sit up front with the coach driver, clutching the plastic bucket. Once I reached my teens though, I was cured. I binned all those anti-sickness pills and never gave it another thought. Until now that is, when it’s back like a bad penny and I place the blame squarely at old age’s door.
Another casualty of middle-age is good old fashioned flirting. Now, I have to confess that as a young woman, I never favoured flirting as a pastime. It was too fraught with danger – giving young men the wrong idea and who in God’s name wants to flirt with old codgers when they’re in the prime of life. Once I hit those thirties and forties though, I discovered that a cheeky wink and a bit of harmless flattery went a long way in making the world go around. Sadly, in my fifties I find I’m back to square one. Flirting with middle-aged men just gets their hopes up and flirting with young men is frankly creepy. So I’ve come full circle to the asexual, no-nonsense approach of my younger years.
There is an upside to all this however and one unexpected delight is the way middle-aged women flirt with each other. Whenever I meet friends these days, there is always a gush of compliments as we fall over each other to admire new hairdos, shoes or gym toned bodies. The envy and competitive edge that can be a sad by-product of women’s friendship is no more and we can just revel in each other’s middle-aged loveliness. In fact, I think I like it better than flirting with men who, let’s face it when compared to women, are flirting amateurs.
Another strange upside is the attentiveness I now find myself getting from young men. I’d grown accustomed to having doors slammed in my face by strapping young twenty-somethings, whose world view seemed to be dog eat dog. Somehow all that’s changed and I find I’ve slipped into crazy old grandma territory with all of the benefits that brings with it. These overgrown boys now fall over themselves to save me from my own incompetence, carrying my drinks to the table or helping me to figure out how to scan my card at the cinema (don’t even ask!). Young men are suddenly smiley and chatty where they were once surly louts and, you know what, I quite like being a dotty old bat.
There’s no denying then that age brings with it many changes, lots of which you’d never have anticipated in a million years. If you’re an old fogey like me you no doubt have your own no-go areas. As for any bright young things out there, all I can say is – ha ha ha!