by Judith Morrison
I’m waiting in line at the box office to try to get a rush ticket to the ballet Cinderella. It’s sold out online, but I’m hoping that maybe a few seats have popped back up in the system.
“We only have single seating left starting at $142,” the lady behind the glass at the box office explains into the microphone, pointing to a few scattered red dots on the seating chart she has propped against the window. “They all have unobstructed views,” she adds.
At that price, they’d better have unobstructed views.
I’m all dressed up in lace and pearls with an elaborate wash and blow out. And, if I don’t buy a ticket, I have nowhere to go. And if I have nowhere to go, I might as well just be wearing what I would normally have on: my standard, fur-covered, dog walking outfit! I clear my throat and breathe in the heady, expensive perfume whiff coming from the direction of the lobby, where I get a glimpse of women in long dresses holding flutes of champagne.
I want to be one of those women holding a glass flute!
“Why not? I’ll take seat G4,” I hear myself saying, handing over my credit card.
I snap my beaded clutch shut decisively, catching a glimpse of the fresh manicure I optimistically got for this event as I do so. Usually I would book online for something like this weeks ahead of time and have it marked forever in my calendar. What an impromptu treat this is! Thrilling!
I love actually feeling my ticket as opposed to having it on your phone…in much the same way that I find reading an actual hard cover book more satisfactory than on my e-reader. I will keep this ticket as a memory of this special date with myself as a souvenir and paste it in my daily journal.
I stand in line and pre-order my champagne for the intermission. I receive another ticket for this. Nice!
Best available is still a very good seat even at this late stage, I tell myself. I start walking down the aisle to my seat while calculating what it cost to get here: the ticket was $142, plus champagne at intermission, plus the perfect manicure and the wash and blow dry that I got for the occasion.
“Why the hell not?”
And it’s good value for the money as the lady behind the glass has assured me. Seat G4 has an unobstructed view.
As I get closer and closer to the stage, I get more excited about my seat location. The place is jam packed and it now feels a bit claustrophobic to be among these coiffed, well-dressed, perfumed people who are in the aisles and not settled yet.
I’m the last one in the row. Everyone has to stand up to let me in. I try not to step on anyone’s toes.
My seat is excellent. I can see that it is well worth the money.
The it’s-about-to-begin chimes are still ringing…I’m settled in with about a minute to spare. This is unreal!
It’s not lost on me that the two seats in front of me are unoccupied. I have the same feeling on an airplane when you think you have an empty seat beside you.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a couple rushing down the aisle. They are middle aged. He is tall with a very blond brush cut and a large-featured face and she is a petite, glittery brunette with long painted red nails.
And the usher shows them the seats directly in front of me.
The lights go down. The dramatic music to Cinderella begins. Dancers start dancing.
The audience is into the performance already — laughing, totally engrossed.
It slowly dawns on me that something is amiss. I’m not laughing. I’m not engrossed.
No, I’m not enjoying the ballet and I can’t put my finger on quite why at the moment. All I know is that something is wrong. From the snippets on both sides of the stage I can see the costumes and dancing, and it’s spectacular but…oh…that’s it — I can’t see the ballet.
It’s Big Head. Mr. Big, Bristled, Blond Brushcut Head in front of me is obstructing my unobstructed view.
Damn. I’m missing it. Is my entertainment for the night going to be watching the other audience members appreciate the show?
I crank my neck to the left and to the right in an attempt to improve my situation. I lean forward, but it’s no better.
What can I do? I can’t really tap him on his big head and complain because he isn’t doing anything wrong. He bought a ticket and is sitting in his rightful place watching the show. It’s not his fault he’s a Big Head.
No, there’s really nothing to do at this point, but start making a grocery shopping list for the week which will have to be very basic as I have splurged on this ticket. “Let’s see, am I or am I not out of carrots?” I ask myself this and other equally mundane questions as the ballet goes on.
I notice Big Head and his date are whispering. Or, should I say, she’s whispering what looks to be sweet nothings into his ear. I zoom in on this as I’ve practically given up on seeing the ballet.
This I can do something about.
“Shhhhhh!” I hiss to them. “Silence please.”
Any elementary school librarian could take a lesson from me. They stop talking. Good! I feel a measure of control.
Then they start kissing, and not just a little…they’re really going at it. This is even more annoying to me than the whispering.
Whispering and kissing. I know it should be live and let live, but frankly, I want to kill them. Their middle-aged giddiness is irritating.
It doesn’t seem real…realistic.
I have already done the “Shhhh.” I can’t exactly tap them on the shoulder and say, “Please stop massaging the nape of his neck.”
I don’t know them and yet I can’t stand them on so many levels. I close my eyes and think about my ever growing do-to list.
Finally, the lights go up. Intermission! I pray that the smoochers will now leave and get a room already.
I down 2 flutes of champagne in quick succession, hoping it will put me in a more charitable frame of mind and make me more at peace with my obstructed view, and more loving and tolerant towards humanity…specifically Big Head and his girlfriend. Like the song says, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Yes, why can’t I just chill for God’s sake?
So far so good as I tipsily go back to my best available seat.
I take a deep breath as the couple also return to their seats.
Two seconds in and the neck massaging starts almost immediately. The champagne, which I thought would take the edge off, isn’t working. Maybe I’m a nasty drunk. I feel nasty.
“Concentrate,” I tell myself.
I close my eyes and listen to the music. My resolve is slowing sipping away as the ballet continues. I just want this to be over. And over fast!
At last, the ballet ends. But first, the ballet almost ends a few times. Ballet is like that. Just when you think it’s over, someone does another plié.
People clap. Bouquets of flowers are presented to the dancers. People are standing up in great appreciation. At least, those who actually saw the ballet are up on their feet in great and sincere appreciation!
It must have been good to get this kind of audience response.
I stand up, too.
Big Head and his girlfriend have stayed seated, so I finally get a great view. Of Cinderella receiving her flowers. Of the performers bowing to their accolades. It sure seems like they gave a show-stopping performance!
I clap loudly and enthusiastically, for what might have been.