Episode Six: Bruno and Alice: A Love Story in Twelve Parts About Seniors and Safety – It takes two to cha-cha

Part of growing older wisely is recognizing that, if you want to stay in shape, you have to work at it. I learned that lesson in the middle of a dance floor.

My gentleman friend Bruno fancies himself a dancer. In fact, as he has often told me, for years he signed his letters "Samba Boy." Being seventy-something hasn't slowed him down much, and one day last winter he took me dancing. There's a hall near us that brings in big bands (I didn't think there were any left!) and Bruno was waiting in line the day tickets went on sale.

Now, I never won any awards or anything but, in my youth, I could tango with the best of them, and my cha-cha had hopeful dance partners lining up to ask me onto the floor. So off we went. As the song says "We could have danced all night..." except for the fact that by the third number, I was exhausted. I guess I had let myself slip out of shape—never exercising. What an embarrassment. Bruno had paid a fortune for the tickets, and had even prepared for the event by dredging out his old Latin dance outfit (which, to be truthful, looked ridiculous on him). But I couldn't keep up at all.

By the time they played the first cha-cha, I could hardly even stand up, but I made myself get back up onto the dance floor. About a minute into the dance, I felt dizzy. I stumbled toward the edge of the floor and stopped myself from falling by leaning right on someone else's table. I recovered soon enough, but it amazed me that not being fit could have caused me an injury.

I was really humiliated. Bruno had kept himself in great shape all these years through exercise... walking, cutting the lawn, even doing the odd sit-up. It wasn't that 80 is too old to dance. It was just that I was plain out of shape.

Since then, I've made a few changes. I walk to the library instead of drive. If I'm just going up one flight, I take the stairs. And I'm thinking hard about that yoga class. Next time they play a cha-cha, I'm going to be ready, and Bruno better be ready too!

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