I've been hanging out at the community center lately, near lunchtime when the local meals-on-wheels organization serves a meal to seniors in the dining room. They do food delivery too, but those clients who are able-bodied and socially inclined show up to eat and chat and pick up a sack of day-old bagels or a newspaper.
Before lunch, the center hosts exercise classes of the kind you imagine at senior centers - they sit on chairs and stretch their arms; they stand behind the chairs and stretch their legs; they bend from the waist to one side and then another. I like to watch them because they remind me of my grandparents, most of whom are gone. I lived within a half hour of all four of them when I was growing up, but when I moved away twenty years ago this summer, I saw them only a couple of times a year. I find myself imagining Grandma doing the slow-motion version of the hokey pokey at the senior center.
This week I was there a little earlier in the day, and instead of the swayers I was surprised by a whole different group. The ladies' tap dance class was taking place on the stage at one end of the dining room and I swear I could have watched those women all day long. They were dancing to Rockin' Robin (A Michael Jackson homage? Perhaps.) and man, could they tap. I took my share of tap-dance lessons and I never really mastered it; it's all about ankle and knee control and I was better suited to stiff-legged ballet. The class of seven was led by a woman who must have learned tap dancing during World War II. She was serious, stopping the group when someone was clearly out of step and making them all start over again, and they were all way better than I had ever been, even at age ten with my young joints and brand new shoes.
I wonder what kind of class I'll take at the senior center when I am seventy-five. Hip-hop? Maybe Macarena?