Monday, 3 March 2008

Dreams and nightmares

Freezing rain ("freezing bane" is more like it) fell early this morning. The Resident Fan Boy had been worshipping at the altar of Environment Canada throughout Sunday, so I really hadn't bothered to fix younger daughter's school lunch. When word came that the school buses had been cancelled, we knew there was little point tackling the treacherous sidewalks for slightly-less-than-one kilometre uphill to school. I phone the school's absence line and tuned the television to Sesame Street. (Elder daughter and the RFB must brave the elements for the sake of marks and money.)

While I've given up going outside in freezing rain (don't; not if you can help it), I have been making an attempt to do other things I've been nervous about. One of these is taking younger daughter to an evening ballet performance. Elder daughter, despite my best brain-washing attempts, has sworn off ballet, and Ottawa only offers matinées of The Nutcracker. Since younger daughter had made it quite happily through an evening performance of a musical review put on by a local theatre company over the Christmas holidays, I thought I'd finally make a stab at it when Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo showed up in town with their production of Le Songe. Ah, A Midsummer Night's Dream, I thought: slapstick, fairies, Mendelssohn.... perfect for younger daughter.

Well, it wasn't a total disaster. This was very, very French, that is, heavy on whimsy, preciousness, and what the Resident Fan Boy called "A-a-a-a-a-rt!" (as in Gonzo the Great playing Mozart in a vat of oatmeal with bagpipes). Younger daughter, whom we'd carefully prepared, sat between us with Ballerina, the stuffed chocolate-coloured lab and Jeffrey her dog-puppet. She enjoyed training her opera glasses on the members of the audience waiting for the curtain. I was seated next to Mr. Elbows, and the RFB was seated next to Monsieur Appreciator of French Art who was a dead ringer for Mick Fleetwood (down to his build and wardrobe) and chuckled appreciatively throughout the performance. The ballet was a mixture of sort of Commedia dell'Arte (the band of mechanicals), traditional ballet (the lovers, conveniently labelled in large letters), and modern ballet (scary fairies). Of the last, these were probably rather Shakespearean fairies: not fluffy and ethereal, but earthy and erotic, all "holes and poles". Titania's white body stocking was decorated with aqueous circles emphasizing her breasts, belly and pudenda, while Oberon sported a sort of pearl saddle horn on his belt (and yeeowtch! what a physical hazard for his dancing partners!). All of this innuendo would go flying over younger daughter's head, and truth to tell, the choreography of the fairy section was by far the most interesting of the ballet, which spent rather too much time on the story of the four lovers (which, let's face it, is usually the most tedious part of the play). Three quarters of the way through the first act, younger daughter was asleep.  The Resident Fan Boy and I exchanged glances as the lights came up for intermission and gathered up our coats. While waiting for a taxi in the lobby, we saw a family with a four-year-old boy making an exit and, so help me, we heard a baby crying in the orchestra section at the beginning of the ballet...

I don't know if the evening would have been better if I hadn't been battling a persistant headache resulting from a 3+ hour shopping expedition to seek out a "dressy" outfit for elder daughter's European class trip next week. First off, I am not, in any sense of the term, a fashion consultant (that would be eldest daughter's best friend who was sick this weekend). Secondly, my limit for shopping malls is just under 90 minutes. Thirdly, elder daughter had no idea what she wanted, being a jeans-and-tee girl herself. So it was my worst nightmare: 90 minutes in boutiques and waiting outside and inside fitting rooms, followed by 90 minutes of bloody Payless Shoes where I've never been and I never wish to revisit. Then she said she needed a bag. What did I think? I carry everything in cloth book bags, I told her, slumping off to sit on a shoe-fitting bench while she quizzed the salesgirl....

Next attempt: Broadway Across Canada season tickets. I'm praying there are matinées. And no dress code.

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