Thursday, December 23, 2010
Nutcrackers and Nuts
Living off the beaten path as many of us do, it is not often that we are exposed to the cultural side of life. So when the opportunity arises to visit a museum or attend the opera or theater, I’ve always thought that it would be educational and enriching to avail ourselves of that opportunity. Therefore, I was quite pleased when, eight years ago, my mother suggested taking my seven year old daughter to see the Russian Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.
Mum wondered if Josie-Earl would be old enough to appreciate it. I told her I thought so, and then went on to say that I had seen it once, myself, but I hadn’t been mature enough at the time. I was twenty-eight. I hadn’t quite made up my mind that “culture” was a good thing. Of course, I can always lay part of the blame for my inappropriate behavior on my friend Patty. She’s actually proud of the effect she has on me. When I accepted her invitation to see The Nutcracker, I should have known that I would revert to the ten year old I was when we first met in Mrs. Gilmore’s fourth grade class. And I did.
The first surprise of the evening came when we arrived at the Maine Center for the Arts. Hillbillies that we were, we made our entrance in slacks and sweaters, and were immediately surrounded by ladies in formal gowns and gentlemen in suits and tuxedos! Talk about feeling conspicuous! I immediately swatted Patty, who should have warned me about the formality of the occasion. Patty’s husband John was even wearing dungarees-- really nice, neat, new ones-- but blue jeans, nonetheless. I could feel the familiar tingle of hilarity crawling up my spine.
We found our seats, and were entertained with the sounds of the symphony orchestra as they tuned up their instruments. Based on the caterwauling emanating from the pit, I wasn’t at all sure they knew what they were doing. The pre-show clamor sounded more like the rumble of my husband’s belly after a good bowl of chili-- magnified by one hundred-- and the racket made by the neighborhood tomcats on a hot summer night. In all honesty, once the show began, the music was perfection. Unfortunately, it was too late to really appreciate it. For the dancers had emerged on the stage.
I didn’t know what The Nutcracker story line was about. I still don’t. It became a non-issue once the first male dancer pranced across my line of vision.
If a female ballet dancer is called a “ballerina”, what do you call a male ballet dancer? The word “exhibitionist” comes to mind.
I’m not a prude. I’m not a voyeur. And yet, with Patricia Anne giggling at my side, I felt like a combination of the two. With something like morbid fascination, I attempted to watch the talented star, while at the same time I tried NOT to look at him! Really! Is it breaking some ballet directorate to properly dress the dancers? Could not a single pair of baggy pants be found? Was I the only person in the audience who was slightly offended or embarrassed by the vaunting, leaping athlete? Perhaps if I’d dressed formally, I too would have been able to retain a dignified countenance. Instead, I had to fight the urge to rush onstage, cover the poor lad’s lap with my jacket and hustle him to the wings.
No, I certainly wasn’t mature enough to appreciate that particular form of art. Patty and I made utter fools of ourselves, although I felt the safety of anonymity since I lived two hours away from the Bangor area.
Poor John was beet red from the open neck of his classy flannel shirt all the way up to his hairline. He hates for John Q. Publick to know that he is associated with Patty and me. And so we cling to him all the more-- in retribution, don’t you see.
Luckily for Mum, Josie doesn't take after me. She knows how to behave in public. She liked the ballet; her only negative comment being that it was “too long”. She loved dressing up for the evening, too. There was no way my daughter going to get caught out like her poor Mama had! She went decked out in an emerald velvet and cream silk dress with green tights and snazzy shoes! Josie also loved spending the night with her Nanny. And upon arriving home, we were all treated to the spectacle of Josie attempting to imitate those great professional dancers. She pirouetted, flapped her toes right and left, and then performed a great leaping split, arms whipped out high to each side...at which time she smacked one hand against the corner of the wood stove, which caused even greater leaps, flails and bounds as she tore through the living room and kitchen in pain. She broke every blood vessel in her poor little ring finger, which swelled and turned blue from one end to the other.
Ah, culture. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Merry Christmas from The F.A.R.M., where there's Fresh Air and Room to Move!
Photos from Christmas, 2009
#1: Our tree
#2: My pal for the last 37 years, Patty (the awesome woman to whom Grumble Bluff is dedicated).
#3: Patty, me and Josie
#4: Patty's hubby, John, my pal for the last 24 years.
#5: Josie, Eli, Patty ("Talk to the hand!"), John, and Mr. Grumbles' legs
#6: The Peases at The F.A.R.M. (Guy was working, and didn't arrive for the holiday until midnight...)