May Day and I just returned from the domicile of those two sultry ladies of the nightcap, Heather and Lauren, where we watched one of the finest examples of modern American cinema in recent history. Of course I am talking about that great film, Center Stage.
“But isn’t that the assy ballet movie?” You ask. The short answer is yes. Yes, indeed it is one and the same. And watching it really reminded me of the life-long dream I never had of becoming a professional dancer. How well I remember the days I spent as a youth, not frolicking about or spending hours practicing my plié. How fondly I recall not going to ballet classes or really caring one way or the other. Yes, those were the days. How did I turn away from my dream?
Actually, it did remind me of how my brother and sister and I used to while away the hours by putting on records of classical music and pretending we were in some freakish rendition of Swan Lake. Well, okay, so the truth is that we didn’t know shit about ballet (from a practical standpoint, anyway), so we really just pretended to be rehearsing rather than performing, but the story still applies.
Anyway, we’d put on these classical records and then prance about the living room in capes (because even my sister wasn’t about to be caught dead in a fucking tutu) (and they weren’t really capes, they were pillowcases), and we would throw ourselves at each other full-force, since the object of ballet is really to knock down your opponents so you can score. I think it has somewhat lost sight of that original directive over the years, but talk to your neighborhood ballet scholar, and I believe he or she will surely support my claim. Back in the early days of its development, ballet was really quite similar to hockey.
In any case, we would grand jeté and pirouette and arabesque around the living room, pillowcases a-twirl, and then one of us would inevitably body-check the other two and hope we weren’t all standing too close to the staircase when it happened. Usually, we tried to keep things pretty fluid and graceful -- because we’re nothing if not purists in my family -- but we were somewhat hindered by the fact that the records themselves (because these were LPs, people) were completely warped and had more wave than Lauren Bacall’s hair in Key Largo. Our classical ballet music sounded like something that should be chugging from a calliope in the Carnival Of Souls.
And because we’re purists, we always tried to make the moves fit the music. Consequently, it was not uncommon that my father would come home from work to find his children galumphing about the living room like a pride of inebriated walrus, bedecked in pillowcases and those cheap paper crowns from Burger King, trying their damnedest to crush each other bodily with one ill-timed flying leap after the other. And my poor mother on the phone with her mother, apologizing for everything she ever did as a child and begging for advice on what to do when you find out your kids might be clinically insane.
So, while I admit that my dreams of ballet stardom may seem far-fetched, or made up solely for the purpose of writing this journal entry, I assure you that I do actually have some experience in the world of Terpsichorean expression. Yes, I was an eight year old with a mean pieds de cheval and an even meaner body-slam. We were truly the pioneers of X-treme Ballet.
I promise I’ll start putting new quizzes back in soon. I mean, as soon as I get a new computer.