Mom and the Bellydancers

Shortly after we left on vacation to the Poconos, we received a call from my mother’s assisted living facility telling us that Mom had been found on the floor of her bathroom and had apparently had another mini-stroke. They had called an ambulance and she was at the local hospital. We quickly packed our bags and headed straight back to the hospital.

Mom remained in hospital over the Memorial Day weekend and was then released to a local rehab facility for further rehabilitation. A call to my brother brought quick action and soon he was on his way from Michigan to help me with some crucial decisions while Mom was still in the hospital. It’s incredibly nice to have a brother you can count on in a crisis. As you can see from this picture, Mom was happy to see John and was also enjoying her teddy bear, which our daughter had gotten for her during her last visit to the hospital.

After John left to return home, I came over one afternoon to visit Mom and found the staff all excited as I rode up in the elevator. “Did you get a look at them?”, one nurse asked another.

“I’m going to see if I can stand in the back of the room to watch the show,” replied the other.

I had no idea what they were talking about but did notice that there were several exotic looking people running about the place. “Strange,” I thought to myself.

Soon I discovered that Mom wasn’t in her room. She was in the breakfast room along with everyone else from her floor, all squeezed in to watch “THE BELLYDANCERS.” I saw her up near the front but there wasn’t room to get to her so I decided to squeeze my way into a chair along a side wall and watch the show myself and then visit with Mom.

“What’s going on?” asked one of the residents to noone in particular.

“Here come some buxom women,” observed another unusually astute resident.

“Buxom.” I hadn’t heard that word in many years. It’s an old-fashioned word but it definitely was apropos for the ladies who were making their way to the front of the room. I glanced over towards Mom. She was dozing in her wheelchair. After lunch isn’t a particularly good time to try to get Mom to do anything. She likes to nap. But it was hard to see how anyone could nap because by this time the music was blasting and the dancers were snaking out onto the floor, waving scarfs and hips and winking at the residents.

Ah, the dancers. They gave new meaning to the term “bellydancers”, if you get my drift. I’d say almost every adult in the group, with the exception of one who was most likely the teacher, had a belly that you’d be hard pressed to miss, even fully clothed. I hadn’t seen that many rolls since Easter dinner at my Aunt Maxine’s. Mind you, my own stomach looks like the baby is due any minute so it was with a certain amount of admiration that I observed these middle-aged women letting it all hang out. The dancers were certainly enthusiastic, I’ll give them that, although their skill levels varied greatly. But there was another surprise in store for us. Mincing out from behind the ice machine came Rashid……a male belly dancer.

Now I’ve lived in Greece and I’ve seen some great male Middle Eastern dancers there. They were the type of guys that left no doubt about their virility and you certainly didn’t mind being drawn into the circle to dance with them. Rashid was another story. Between the pancake makeup, the curly wig that didn’t match his beard and that flew off in the middle of his first dance, and the costume that was androgynous to say the least but failed to hide his expansive middle, he was a sight to behold.

“We have a special gift for all you ladies in the audience,” the announcer purred. “Rashid will be performing a dance just for you women.”

Rashid grinned at the audience, the music started, and he proceeded to shimmy and gyrate up and down the rows, stopping in front of different women for special effect. “Consider this a belated Mother’s Day gift,” he said.

“Lord, help me,” I groaned to myself. “If he gets all the way back here to me, I’m going to lose it. I’ll start laughing and I won’t be able to stop.”

Rashid slid along and stopped in front of Mom. She was slumped over, still sleeping. He pulled out all the stops, shimmying away, but she snored on. Spotting another hapless lady, he boogeyed on. Mom perked up and looked around. “What did I miss?” she yelled.

Just then Joan, Mom’s roommate spotted me in the crowd and gave me “the eye.” I knew what was coming.
“Get me out of here!” she mouthed.

“I can’t!” I pantomimed back. I gestured toward the crowd. “Too crowded. I can’t get to you.” I slunk down into my seat and prayed for the show to end. Two and a half hours later, we were finally put out of our misery. I never saw a room clear out so fast which was pretty amazing since three fourths of the people were in wheelchairs.

When I got Mom back to her room, I sunk into a chair and proclaimed, “Well, that was surely something, wasn’t it?”

“You know what?” said Mom. “Joan and I are going to take up belly dancing.”

“You are?”, I exclaimed.

“Yes, we are!” proclaimed Mom. Joan nodded.

“Go for it!”, I said. “Heaven help us”, I thought.

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