In the 9th grade, I humiliated myself in front of nearly 100 of my junior high classmates when I tripped on the oddly-spaced steps in the choir room and tumbled down the stairs, tearing holes in both knees of my fishnet stockings. As if that single incident weren’t enough, Miss Bantillo, the choir director, referred to me as “Grace” the rest of the year, further embedding the event in everyone’s memory.
It’s not that I’m totally clumsy, it’s just that I had some very good reasons to refrain from putting “professional dancer” on my list of potential career paths. And until last month, I would have foolishly turned down a short stint on Dancing with the Stars, missing out on the opportunity to swoon in Maks’s arms.
But last month I turned 60, and all bets are off.
There’s a poem by Jenny Joseph I’ve always revered. It’s called “Warning.” You’ve probably known it by some other name. The first lines are:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
Yeah, I’ve been saving up a lot of my eccentricities for this 60 thing…
So I’ve got the tattoo, and I’ve got the Mustang, and I’ve definitely got the attitude to dance in public as a taco and not give a whit about what anyone thinks.
And I in my bones I know there’s a lot more of my newfound personal freedom waiting to be expressed now that “I’m an old lady”—but I’m definitely off to a good start!