It is the Autumn of 2003. We went out to dinner earlier tonight, something many like us do, those of us at or near retirement age, and as many of other ages do. I am reluctant to admit that we now do just that, go to dinner, then return home, rub our stomachs and groan about having eaten too much, and finally wait for the nap that we know is sneaking up behind us as we stretch out in the recliner. What has happened to the party animals we once were, those charming young people who went to dinner and then out to dance and have a lively evening with friends? Ah, well, long gone.
But I am already straying from my topic. Well, perhaps not. I am considering how things in the world have changed . . . and remained the same all in the same breath.
The restaurant was almost overflowing, about half or so being teenagers, all dressed to the nines (they wouldn't understand that phrase, would they?). We asked about the regalia and learned that it was homecoming at a nearby school. All through dinner, I kept looking at them and smiling, tickled with their actions, their dress, the hairdos.
Several thoughts occurred to me. First of all, it is good that they don't dance like we did . . . . the girls couldn't keep on the strappy, high-heeled sandals and take even one step backward, let alone attempt a spin during a swing dance or a jitterbug! But they looked awfully cute! The shoes themselves were daunting, at least to me. Some were high-heeled thongs with rhinestone studded straps which made my feet ache just looking! And the thick soled platforms, so popular now, seemed to contrast vividly with their tiny, lithe bodies. I remember a period of my life some decades ago when I wore similar shoes and thought them completely normal, at least until such time as I stepped on a pebble, causing my foot to teeter to the left and leaving me with a seriously sprained ankle that took months to heal. Thus, I now see such shoes as clunky, frivolous, and wonder about their appeal to the young ladies out to dine with their escorts.
The girls were adorable in their little "evening" dresses . . . . sequins, slinky and glittery materials, backless, strapless, and laced from waist to shoulders. When they got up to walk around, I giggled each time one tugged her strapless gown back to a modest level or walked with a rather unbecoming clomp-clomp-clomp in those ever so cute but unrealistic shoes. Bless their hearts, most of them didn’t walk quite erect, but leaning forward a bit as their bodies tried to compensate for the unaccustomed high heels.
The dresses were very cute, something that my mother would have died if I’d put on while still in high school! Slim-fitting, soft materials that draped over their bodies, so fashionable . . . and so revealing! Their little bikini panties left incredible lines across their slinky little butts! Aren't these kids part of the generation that have taught all us women about the wonders of thongs? Ahh, well, obviously not this group! Or perhaps their moms could cope with the dresses, but weren’t ready yet to give in to the wearing of thongs. At any rate, it seemed that this young ladies were sort of suspended somewhere between being daddies’ little darlings and feisty little sirens of today’s world.
Each girl had her own version of the "done-up" hairdo, you know, the one we actually had done at the beauty shop in a style that we would never, NEVER wear in the real world. All those curls were bobbing and flipping at a dazzling pace. Were we ever like that? Probably so. I’ve noticed that when a woman of any age wears a hairdo to which she is unaccustomed, there is more movement from the neck up than is “usual.” Why is that?
Secondly, I commented to my husband that I don't even remember being that young. Then I corrected my statement . . . . .I do remember being that age rather clearly. But I don't remember feeling as young as they looked! OHMIGAWD, they are just babies! The boys had carnations, some pinned to their dress shirts because they wore no jackets. The ones who had jackets had about an inch and a half of white shirt below the jacket sleeve! We mused about the difficulty high school aged boys had getting just the right amount of shirt sleeve visible at the cuff, and by the next big school dance, there had been enough growth that neither the shirt nor the jacket fit right, causing the boy angst about his appearance, while his parents surely groaned inwardly because it meant another wardrobe adjustment which strained the family budget.
Throughout dinner I continued to be enthralled with the youngsters, our future. A few sat throughout their meals, but most of them popped up every few minutes and scurried as gracefully as possible in the unfamiliar garb, obviously chosen to give them the appearance of grownups, and framing their equally obvious struggle to fit the self images each had.
It was a fun evening, watching and chuckling about these little women of tomorrow's world and their awkward knights in shirtsleeved armor. I am sure that our parents . . . .oops! make that "and grandparents"! . . . . similarly smiled and faded back into their own memories, amusements, and amazements around us. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to sit back and enjoy watching the endeavors of becoming adult in our society without having to relive it? These were children-going-on-adults, finding their niche, searching for their own paths of experience and emulating the older persons in their lives, despite the probability that each would deny influence from the elders of their tribe.
And finally, the most heartwarming aspect of the evening may well be that these precious youngsters, the ones who made my evening so enjoyable and gave me cause to smile indulgently, will be taking their sprained ankles, necks rubbed sore by buttoned collars, and their broken hearts home to someone else. My dues are paid. Being sixty years old isn’t all bad!
Nope, being this old isn't bad at all, and it allows me to enjoy being the observer more than I can say!
PS - on the way home, I passed a 1957 Chevy, turquoise and blue. A proud mom was taking pictures of her son standing outside it with his tux on. The tux was white with turquoise cummerbund and tie!! How cute was that!!!