Just about a year ago, my mother Betty moved from her big house in Marin County to a small apartment at Alma Via, a senior community in San Francisco. We chose Alma Via for a number of reasons: the folks there were the warmest and most welcoming; they have a top-notch staff of caring professionals; the wide hallways and elegant parlor (complete with a wide-screen Skype hook-up for visits with faraway family); the fact that pets are welcome; the tasty meals served by kitchen staffers who make a point of remembering the residents’ likes and dislikes; the apparently bottomless home-made-cookie buffet in the entrance hall; and last but certainly not least, because the folks at Alma Via love to party.
That’s right—they are party animals at this senior center. The Alma Via community celebrates everything from Christmas to National Popsicle Day in grand style. Mardis Gras? Everyone dresses in purple and green. In fact “Alma Via” is Latin for “The Way of Partying.”
Today was Luau Day. Sam and I arrived in time for a grand lunch of mahi mahi and rice with pineapple cake and macadamia cookies for dessert. The residents all wore festive leis. As we were leaving, we saw an array of traditional percussion instruments and a ukulele being loaded in by strapping island men; then passed a group of teenagers adorning themselves in feathers, grass skirts, and coconut-shell bras in the lobby. One of the teenagers, in an odd incidence of coincidence, was a former piano student of Sam’s. So we decided to hang around and watch the show.
The band included a tattooed guy who could have easily been a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, several percussionists, a ukulele virtuoso (hence the ukulele), and a boom box (for some reason they needed recorded music for the Polynesian numbers—the band’s specialty was Hawaiian). The dancers were impressive (it turns out they’ve won some national competitions) and put on a cheerful and lively show.
Just visible behind the line of lovely dancers was a toddler, mimicking every move about two beats behind. The thing is she had pretty swell moves of her own, demonstrating a naturally fluid hip-swivel that you either have or you don’t, apparently from birth. She had better moves than we did, proven without a doubt when Sam’s former student dragged me up for a group-dance finale.
Not to be outdone by a four-year-old, I’ve vowed to get out my coconut bra—I think my brother-in-law Dave borrowed it, so I’ll have to get it back from him—and practice till I get some moves of my own. I’m not going to be outdone by a four year old, no matter how cute she is.
And maybe if I learn those moves I’ll get another macadamia cookie, too!