For one brief shining second, the Critical Mom felt like a Las Vegas Showgirl. Her eyelids sparkled with dime store gold and blue glitter, which conveniently concealed a wrinkle or two and which she'd sprinkled liberally through her hair. See, the Critical Mom relished her moment, if not exactly in the spotlight or the limelight, among the girls. (Now, you know women only start calling themselves "girls" when they're over forty. Way over.) The Critical Mom immensely enjoys belonging to a group of mostly menopausal tap dancers. (Okay, I'll forgive three of them for being younger and lovelier than I am . . .one of 'em is prettier than Barbie, and another has big beautiful French bee-stung lips, and a third gamin is actually 23 but looks younger). The rest of us ladies of the proverbial certain age have a je ne sais quoi that we are teaching the younger ones. With our feather boas that we got to wave around--you know what those things can do. We never say die. A menopausal tap dancer can be quite a gal. As our little coven watched, from the wings, another group of dancers--girls of fifteen--performing "Let me dance for you!"--Cassie's passionate love song to Zach, her former boyfriend and the rather sadistic director of the chorus line--one among us cracked, "They have never danced for a man!" Too true. Besides, Cassie's so full of what she did for love she's practically psychotic. These young girls have yet to achieve psychosis. If youth only knew--if age only could! The kids have the looks. They have the bodies. But they don't yet have the moves. And we crones do. Our knees may creak, but oh, can we move. When your hips gyrate, there's something you're supposed to be thinking about, but it's not the next step and it's not "Did I remember my deoderant?" and it's not "I wonder what my grade on my Geography test is?" It's not a question of any kind. It's the answer to all of life's difficulties, at least so it seems while you are dancing. Tapping my way through several chic numbers in a gold sequined headband with a black plume curving over my head and a bright red flapper dress, I wasn't thinking of my ballet class. Although I find it a pleasant experience, it's nothing to set one on fire. My teacher, who is handicapped by her natural lyricism and gift for technical accomplishment, cannot imagine what it feels like to want a little technique without having to do the dance of the seventeen-year-old virgins--which is how I think of certain pretty sequences from the nineteenth century romantic ballets, Swan Lake and Giselle, that she she sometimes asks us to do in class. I don't want to do the dance of the seventeen-year-old virgins. I want to do the dance of the fifty-five-year-old-been-around-the-block-a-few-times.And last night, I got to dance it.