The last couple of months have been prom season for the high school set. Last night my husband and I attended a grown-up prom – a ball. This event was sponsored by a local philanthropic group with a median age range I would guess at probably somewhere around 60. Surely there were a few younger folks at the event last night, but there were far more that were close to us in age and many who were older. It had been a hot day in Portland and the venue’s air conditioning system hadn’t seemed to catch-up with the change in weather. As the evening began, women throughout the room used their programs as fans. I noticed a couple of women at a nearby table who, probably learning from past experience, had brought their own small, decorated fans. A room full of menopausal women and the temperature was too warm – not a good combination.
In addition to the temperature issue (the internal type), I thought about the ways this ball was different from a high school prom. I realized that most of us were probably warmer than we needed to be because we were wearing full body armor under our gowns, i.e. Spanx – an extra layer of clothing not needed by our high school counterparts. Along the line of clothing, I also realized that my dress, more low-cut than I normally wear, was an issue for me because I have more cleavage now than I did in high school. The combination of that and the foreignness of wearing a low-cut dress was disastrous as a piece of cheese off my first bite of appetizer fell off the cracker and down my décolletage. (I fished it out – age does help us deal more reasonably with those embarrassing moments.) Unlike our high school dances when we could dance constantly all evening, last night we incorporated interval dancing into our routine. My husband and I would dance with energy and vigor, then we’d come together for a few quiet moments of swaying before getting back to more vigorous moves. When even those intervals weren’t enough, we took breaks at our table where I used my dinner napkin as a sweat towel. I may have needed a sweat towel in high school, but I never would have been brave enough to use a dinner napkin – too gauche! Then there was the matter of the need for liquids. While the high school group would not likely be drinking wine, normally I would, but with the heat and the dancing, I soon realized that what I needed to drink was water – lots of it. That brings up another problem common for the menopausal set: bathroom breaks. Mid-dance, another couple on the dance floor made me laugh and, just like that, the dance was over for my husband and me as I raced for the ladies’ room. As I washed my hands, the woman at the sink next to me said, “Hurry!” She’d hit upon another difference. Unlike the high school kids who know that there’s always another dance next season or next year, at this age, we don’t have many opportunities to dance and let loose. We don’t want to miss a moment of the fun. Or maybe it’s just that we’ve learned something about the preciousness of life and we don’t want to miss a moment of the fun that also extends beyond the dance floor.