Miriam smacked me on my left arm, one of those playful backhanded slaps intended to get my attention. Her left hand covered her mouth in an attempt to disguise her amusement.
“Can you hear them?” she questioned in a whisper.
Well, yeah, the girls flute choir was playing quite well, especially for a bunch of 10-12 year olds. It didn’t hurt that my 17 year old daughter and her friend Kate, the leaders of the flute choir, were playing along for the little concert. Alyssa and Kate volunteered to lead the flute choir a few years ago, when they both transitioned from middle school to high school, and the group had turned into a showcase for the school’s band program. They play for community events and retirement villages, like the concert they were playing at the moment, at the retirement village where Miriam’s father lives. The girls are a very talented ensemble and their band director is very proud of them.
“They’re all talking about her.” Miriam motioned with her eyes in the direction of Kate, a tall brunette. Kate was wearing heels and a short black skirt with a sheer blouse. In any other place, her choice of clothing would be tasteful, enough that had Miriam not pointed it out, I would not have noticed. After all, I have a teen aged daughter, so I am used to seeing girls dressed like Kate was dressed.
But 80-90 year old residents of a retirement village are not used to seeing short skirts. I had to chuckle a bit as I noticed where many of the male residents were seated. Amongst the female residents, there was scandal in the air with many whispered daggers as the women leaned towards each other, unaware that their mature whispers were not quite as hushed as they thought they were. They shared the scandal with each other, then turned a sweet smile to the performers as they clapped in appreciation, their disdain hidden behind Polident grins.
I am not sure Kate was aware of the uproar her skirt was causing, although I noticed her tug at the skirt as she returned to her seat after the song was through. She is a tomboy sort, an equestrian who I have seen in jeans and tee shirts ever since she was a little girl. I am quite sure that she was oblivious to the scandal. To her, she had dressed nicely for the event, modest compared to the high school environment she is accustomed to.
Next up were Nate on alto sax and Jimmy on tenor sax, playing a lively version of ‘In The Mood’. The version they played was written to be played with an electronic track, the jazz orchestra mysteriously providing accompaniment. The whisperers turned their attention to the iPod that provided the orchestra track. What’s that thingie-ma-boob? I heard one skirt naysayer proclaim into the ear of the woman next to her. A snort snuck out of me as I tried to stifle a guffaw. As the saxophones crooned the familiar tune, the mood changed from scandal to fond memories, toes tapping as the smiles revealed memories of time gone by. I watched the faces as the music took them back to a time when their own fashion, the style of dancing that went along with the music, was likely as scandalous as the skirt they had just scorned. Youthful spirits mingled with the performing youth as the audience found common ground.
Odd as that may seem, it’s true. I was struck by the similarities of the two worlds as they met –
Children who spend their time in community as school and activities bring them together, a world where life intertwines in close communication, a time when identity comes from being together .
Adults who have returned from a life spent apart from the community of youth, returning to that close community as they live together. They have returned.
In a way there is a magic that exists, a bit of Peter Pan and Wendy, a mirror image as the two meet. We are social creatures, something that will never change. We really do not change, not deep down. Oh, we may change the way we whisper, our pace, but deep down we will always be the same.
And I will always sit up front.