I have to say, I don’t feel my age; at least not today. I almost (oops, emphasis on the almost) think I’ve discovered the secret ingredient to the fountain of youth: Belief. It started yesterday after I had agreed to drive my daughter to Tailgate Alley for the Seattle Seahawk home game to take part in a dance flash mob. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, except that I knew it was being organized through her ballet class and I had met her teacher and I thought that taking part in such an event was good for building self-confidence and courage. Two things I never had when I was my daughter’s age. Then the unexpected happened.
“Mom, you could take part, too.”
“Me? You want me to be part of the flash mob.”
“I can teach you the dance. You’d only need to come in on the third chorus.”
I hemmed and hawed and said I’d think about it. Several hours later, she asked me if I wanted to learn the dance. Now, how can I teach self-confidence and courage if I’m not willing to put myself out there as a “role model?” She set up her lap top in the living room and showed me the YouTube version of the dance. Having aspired to be a dancer in my late teens and early twenties, there was nothing in the dance that intimidated me. Mentally I was there. We ran through the dance several times and I relied on muscle memory for most of it.
My daughter is a good teacher. She's patient, kind, and best of all encouraging. She explained that the flash mob was going to be part of a marriage proposal. Each movement was significant. I let her explain away. I knew the song intimately. Even though it was a remake, it was a song I had worn out on the long play record album by my favorite teeny-bopper group, The Monkees. This version of “I’m a Believer” was recorded by a contemporary group called Smash Mouth. (At first I thought she said Smashed Mouse, and I thought it was a pretty interesting trend in bands, since she had recently introduced me to the band Dead Mou5 – spelled with a 5 but pronounced “mouse,” but we cleared that up pretty fast.)
“Hey Mom, you’re a pretty fast learner.” I beamed. It’s nice when you aren’t thought of as the old fuddy-duddy looking for new things to nag a teenager for. I can still do a pretty mean step-ball-change, pony step, chasse, pirouette and split leap. That’s about the time my husband came stomping up the stairs.
“What is going on in here? Downstairs it sounds like the entire ceiling along with the lighting fixtures are about to come down.”
My daughter looked sheepishly at him and said in her sweetest voice ever, “I was teaching Mom the dance. She’s going to be part of the flash mob tomorrow.”
And that’s when it happened. My husband gave me the eye roll. It’s been a long time since I’ve been the recipient of an eye roll. I felt downright adolescent and I could feel the rebellion building in my languishing dancer body. As he walked away shaking his head, my daughter knew she had me. There was no way I would back down now. Not after an eye roll. Like mother, like daughter, or in this case is it the other way around?
We were greeted with a typical rain-soaked Seattle Sunday complete with blustery wind. We dressed as much as we could to look like Seahawk fans that turn out at 10:00 am to partake in the tailgate ritual, but still respecting the need to be mobile enough for that grand jeté kick and the rest of the clever choreography. We found a free parking spot in the middle of a giant mud puddle (nothing like starting out a rainy day with wet feet) and finally rendezvoused with our flash mob group. We milled around trying not to look too conspicuous as we went through the dance with our fingers marking the key moves and found the huge RV that was going to blast the music for us. We met the “groom” or proposer and it was clear he was already imbibing in the tailgate ritual, searching for his own brand of courage.
Minutes before the moment, I discovered my daughter was the lead dancer, the first dancer to break what was expected, and then the other dancers would start streaming in behind her. I was relegated to the group with the cigar-smoking linebacker and the green-haired Neanderthal man. At least I knew the dance. It seemed only seconds and I had barely completed my attempt at a split leap when everything came to a stop and the crowd exhaled a big “Ah . . .” followed by applause. Neanderthal man was blocking my view, but evidently the question had been popped and the answer must have been yes. (It pays to be a believer, all right.)
My daughter found me and grabbed my arm with excitement.
“You did great.”
“You saw me?”
“Well, no. But I’m sure you did.”
Yes, I think belief is the key to youth. It will bring a man to his knees, a teenager to a tailgate party with no other motive than to dance, a middle-aged mother to find her courage and spontaneity, and an unexpecting girlfriend to utter the simple word “yes” even after years of waiting. Sure, tomorrow as I discover muscles that I somehow forgot existed I may be a regretter, but at least for today, at least for now, I’m a believer.