Wednesday, September 11, 2013
It was 1995. My best friend's daughter (Caroline) was backstage somewhere with the rest of her dance class, probably being herded like cats in a holding area by desperate teachers straining to contain little girl excitement, which from my experience is prone to burst out in ear-splitting shrieks at the slightest provocation. Jane and I were sitting with my son, age 8, suffering through dozens of other performances in order to see her daughter's group dance. I was in my mid-30's and still a little vain, so I typically only wore my glasses to read a menu or a book. This meant that the little girls on the stage were slightly blurry shapes in various pastel colors. If I squinted, I could make out their features ... a little.
The truth was that I needed to be wearing those glasses all the time, but I wouldn't admit that for at least two more years when I returned from a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, and was horrified to find that with the help of the dim period lighting of the restaurants, I had tipped between 6% and 35%, leaving behind service personnel who either felt like lottery winners if I had imagined that a zero was an eight or victimized if I had imagined that a six was a zero. Oh well. Sorry!
But on this particular night, yet another performance NOT featuring Caroline was taking shape on the stage. The Tchaikovsky began and from the wings came a line of four rather large girls in the classic hand-over-hand hold that we all remember from every Nutcracker performance of all time. I leaned forward and squinted, thinking they were too old for this recital, trying to make out what I was seeing. I whispered to Jane, "Are those girls? They're kind of big." Jane stifled laughter and whispered back, "It's the adult class." Well, what in the WORLD would possess middle-aged women to don white tutus and dance out onto a stage? I simply could not believe it. I couldn't really see them well enough to confirm what she was saying, so I whispered back, "Are you serious?" She laughed and answered, "Yes!" At that point, my son hissed at me, "Mommmmmmmm, puleeeeeaaase, you're embaaarrrrrassing meeeeee!"
I looked around. People were looking at me. Well, this was my very first children's recital. My son wasn't in any dance classes. He played soccer. They don't typically field middle-aged people during half time of a children's soccer game. So this was my first time experiencing what, apparently, is a very normal thing in the South and, for all I know, everywhere else too. Otherwise normal, adult women sign up for ballet lessons alongside their daughters and granddaughters and they, too, prepare for recital night and perform their hearts out. I SWEAR I did NOT know!!! I'm sure in their hearts, they feel like little girls. Maybe they didn't get a chance to take dance way back when and they're, By God, doing it now!
By the way, florists make a KILLING at these events. Every parent in the audience had a bouquet of flowers for their darling girl, as if each and every girl was the prima ballerina assoluta of the "company". Having a boy has saved me from making a fool of myself in a white tutu and spending my retirement funds on bouquets of flowers. Thank you, ex-husband Charlie, for the Y chromosome you helpfully donated to the cause.