Senior Dancing Article – Pt. 3

How did an age-spotted, fifty-something grandmother who cries when she loses end up in Las Vegas wearing a backless spandex dress and breast enhancers?

It all started in April—my dance teacher said

Hey, would you like to enter a competition? There’s one in August in Las Vegas—it’ll be fun.

I said

Sure, why not?

Why not?? I must have been having one of those short-term memory lapses because somehow I forgot that I don’t compete. Ever. In fact, I avoid anything that has to be judged or evaluated. And the reason I avoid competition is because I am a terrible loser. I hate it—it hurts my feelings and makes me want to quit. And, unfortunately, I almost always lose, so it’s a very bad combination.

If I’d had any idea where I was headed with those three simple words of agreement, I would have grabbed my black practice shoes and run. Far away. Instead, I was excited. I was hopeful. I actually thought I might win something for a change. Yeah, well, that’s another story, but first I had to have something to wear. My black leotard, black pants, black practice shoes outfit wasn’t going to cut it.

grandma in vegasI needed two gowns—one for the smooth dances like waltz and foxtrot and one for the Latin dances. Again, I was excited—thought I might look like the sexy, svelte, sleek women I’d seen at the one competition I’d attended. You know, maybe it was the dress, not what was underneath. I wish.

The first thing I noticed when I tried on one of these gowns is that the spandex fabric hugged every dimple (not the cute cheek dimples on your face, these dimples are on another set of cheeks altogether), and the built-in bras were built with something in mind—something, that is, as opposed to nothing.

Fortunately, I quickly discovered fuller skirts—nothing fitted around my hips and legs, and foam breast enhancers (my mother used to call them falsies, but hers didn’t stick like mine do—ah, the wonders of modern technology).

The next problem took me completely by surprise. Mainly because it’s behind me, and I never see it. My back was a disaster. Now I guess as the rest of my body aged, I had imagined that my back was one part I didn’t have to worry about. Wrong again. My dance teacher’s eyebrows drew together in a concerned frown when I turned around.

Boy, you have a lot of spots.

I twisted to look in the full-length mirror and wished I hadn’t—wrinkled white skin, dozens of large and small spots, and not a toned muscle to be found. Uh, oh.

My teacher said

Oh, you just need a tan—that’ll take care of it.

And, the tan did help with the white skin. And it camouflaged most of the wrinkles and the lack of muscle tone—sort of (I added a trainer to the growing list of professionals I needed to consult). Unfortunately, it only made the spots darker.

Not only that, but since I refuse to give myself cancer, I can’t sit in the sun. Besides, sun exposure would not help the wrinkle population that is already out of control all over my body. I was left with two options. I could lie in a tanning bed or get sprayed.

I tried the tanning bed first. Twice. Unfortunately, no matter how much I wanted to believe their literature, the whole time I was lying there it felt like a coffin and I figure I’m going to get there soon enough without those UV rays. Why rush things?

So, spray tanning—after the first time, I almost went back to the tanning bed. The ice-cold solution was sprayed by a young, fit woman with perfect muscle tone and no spots. Oh, and full, perky breasts. She was fully clothed and I was wearing bikini underwear and lots of spots and shrunken, saggy breasts and jiggly triceps and cellulite-covered thighs. On the other hand, I had started getting my nails done so they looked good.

The whole process took about ten minutes but it felt much longer as she focused her attention on various parts of my body—“could you pull that skin above your knee up, we don’t want the solution to collect in those wrinkles and then you need to turn around and lean over just a little, we want to make sure we get the back of that upper thigh that’s covered by your, uh, well, that’s covered when you’re standing.”

If I can stand there with my “uh” hanging over the back of my upper thigh and my breasts hanging almost to my navel while a young, fit woman sprays tanning solution on me, imagine what you might be able to do? If I can stand in the middle of a hundred people wearing a blue velvet backless dress, fishnet hose, and crooked false eyelashes and accept my “last place” ribbon a dozen or more times and walk onto the dance floor and do it all again, imagine what you might be able to do when you find something you really love. So start looking, start imagining, stop waiting—time is running out.