Tchaikovsky Desires

Khroma Magazine – Fall 2016

An overture of flapping umbrellas and sniffs from noses defrosting. Brass-dressed doors shut down the world behind. My foolish high heels click on 1920s tile as I file in close behind a girl tugging at her mother’s hand urging on a swifter passage. I follow those shimmering Mary Janes past the exchange of tickets for programs, and then onwards as a silver-haired flashlight leads them: K, H, G, 14, 15, 16. I wait for a juggling of ineffectual shawls and feather-down coats before the mother is seated, and the girl is clambering full of agitation onto lap. I take my seat beside wriggling glittery tights with a Bandaid-ed knee peeking through. Frilled cuffs of a miss-matched cardigan accompany a bobbing head in a dance to see musicians tuning up. Three bells, three minutes, three swift kicks to my thigh. An irritation begins to tickle at my nerves and an inward grumble. The conductor ushered to baton by polite applause before a collective inhale as his arms rise high. All still. Except, the girl. Left, right, back, forth, feet on back of seat, hands on back of seat, desperation oozing for Act 1.

Dancers flood the stage with their feathered hats, sweeping capes, and bedazzling tutus, but at least the girl settles as utter bewilderment engulfs her face. But not for long. The action onstage swells and whips the writhing once again. An errant hand mistimes the landing, finding shoulder not seat back. An irked toss of a head and a look that bristles with silent judgment, but isn’t seen by girl or mother as all eyes are on feuding fairies. The prick of a finger leads to a beauty asleep and an outburst of applause. House lights blinding brings an intermission of chatter. A row behind, another’s indignation pipes up, “but mommy, Princess Aurora has blonde hair!”

A memory fresh, though thirty years stale, of another theatre in another land, another transfixed girl lost in the wizardry while perched on her mother’s lap, unaware the repercussions of her wobbling head. And a wry smile tags along with recollections of dancing swans.

All returned from tussling for bathroom stalls allows commencement of Act 2 with visions of true love, boat rides to mystic castles, and a charming prince hacking at one-hundred-year-old twine. A waking kiss produces a squeal of ecstasy from the girl followed by a sequence of fouettes on her mother’s lap. My thigh soaks up more kicks with each spin and disgruntlement creeps up my spine. But then I look rather than glance, and I see a face overflowing with chocolate-stained smiles, a bundle of pure elation, and I thaw, unable to resist returning a grin.

The crescendo of celebratory dances deliver standing ovation after standing ovation, and prolonged bows that no one begrudges. A royal union blessed with lilac fairy dust shepherds forth the end and the girl slumps against her mother’s chest bereft. Squirming legs turn to dragging feet as they join the mass exodus, and the mother gathers her girl into her arms. Coat and shawl replaced, umbrella primed, I lean on the hefty brass door, but before I can make my exit a heavy thought takes hold. Could it be? Really, actually? Was I wishing for a wriggler of my own?