“Aren’t you a little old for that?” A friend asks in response to my Dinah Shore plan: Drink. Dance. Flirt. Repeat. With a resolve that only life’s hardest lessons can bring, I smile slyly and nod. “Yes. Yes I am.” Later, as 7 friends and I, all in our late 30s, drive along I-10, I replay his words: Aren’t you a little old for that? I glance out the window as a car full of Dinah-bound 20-somethings go honking and waving past us. I wave back and wonder: am I going to be that girl who is Peter Panning her way through the community, imagining I’ve still got it, while my peers watch on with pity? How do we know when we’re too old for debauchery?
I glance around the car, aware that we are a motley group, not nearly young enough to stay up late, but too young and too weary of always being the educated, professional goody two shoes not to try. As if on cue, my comrade at the wheel asks no one in particular, “Were those girls even old enough to drink?” Our nervous laughter makes me realize I’m not the only one wondering if we are a little too “Driving Miss Daisy” for Dinah.
An hour later, we are bikini-clad, sun screened up and making our way, drinks in hand, through the 13,000 or so pool party crowd. I lead our single file line, glance back at my wide-eyed friends and feel a swell of panic for a moment. I wonder if I have led my Dinah-virgin friends astray and, like every marathon I have ever run, consider that I maybe made a bad choice. Then a group of ladies from San Diego stop us and we all exchange hugs. I breathe. I have never been so glad to see familiar, similar in age faces in my life. As I chat with fellow San Diegan, I overhear my friends’ chatter behind me.
“This place is packed!”
“This place is the happiest place on earth.”
“See, I told you it would be Off.The.Hook”
I sigh, feeling a little less like a small girl on the island of misfit toys.
“Here’s to Dinah Shore” and we all toast happily. Later, I will come to think of this moment much like the moment of the roofie toast, high atop Vegas in The Hangover. The beginning of the end.
3 hours later, 4 mojitos in, my neck blue from the 8 Bud Light beads around my neck, I stand in the middle of the mass of women, the smell of beer mixing with sunscreen, and wonder: would it be so bad to be too old for this and to do it anyway? The truth is, a few months after coming off of a breakup so sad I could barely breathe, I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. The formerly known as Dinah-virgin friends of mine are no different. The shyest one among us, the one who claims to have no game, we find dancing to Lil Jon in a lesbian sandwich. Another comrade, the one who just got diagnosed with a debilitating disease, is laughing hysterically as she watches and points to our other friend, the overworked and underappreciated mom, dancing with the hot girl we refer to simply as “green bikini”. And the most stressed out among us, the one who can never really take a joke, is always exhausted and taking some medication, is grinning widely, red-cheeked and holding her stomach. She catches me watching her and over the music yells, “Hurts from laughing so hard!”
The next morning, as we sit at breakfast, I hold my coffee mug in my hands and close my eyes for a moment and take in the laughter around me at our table. I smile. I open my eyes and look around. Are we too old? Maybe. Would I do it all over again to feel the joy in laughing so hard our stomachs hurt in the letting go a bit? Yes. Yes I would.
Club Skirts Presents: THE DINAH March 30- April 3, 2016. The Original Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs.
Read more about Mariah Hanson, the woman behind The Dinah.