I recently had the misfortune of being dragged to a recital given by the dancing school to which my seven-year-old neighbor, Melissa, belonged.
If you've never been to one of these extravaganzas, I strongly urge you to make every effort to retain your aesthetic virginity.
In short, it was a horror show, surpassing even the imaginations of Roger Corman, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter…put together. Though there was no blood on the walls, by the time this travesty concluded, I really wanted to put some there--mostly the gore and entrails belonging to the people who had talked me into this fabulous outing in the first place--Melissa's parents.
The first number was performed by the preschoolers. They danced (if you could call it that) to Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers," though their interpretation of it was more like "Waltz of the Pot-Bellied Pigs."
OK. I got through it with my lunch remaining just above my belt.
This was not to last, however.
The first graders were next and cavorted across the stage to Mussorgsky's "A Night on Bald Mountain," a piece of music I liked very much until that moment. I still have flashbacks to a stage covered with urchins flailing about in a mad attempt to appear graceful, in spite of each child's having six legs and no sense of rhythm whatsoever.
The second graders--finally! It was Melissa's group. They came out dressed as zombies and treated us to an interpretation of "Thriller" that made Michael Jackson look positively normal. It was unforgettable…no matter how hard I tried.
Good! Number over. I got up to leave and quickly discovered that God hadn't quite finished torturing me yet. I was expected to stay for the entire thing! Another whole hour!
So there I sat, gamely smiling through dances so hopelessly out of sync that I was suffering from mal de mer halfway into the program. During this exercise in futility, we witnessed three children falling off the stage, six running into the wings in tears, and one who just stood front and center and waved to her mother.
And those were the talented ones.
At last, it ended…or so I thought.
No such luck. Now it was time for the awards presentation! This went on for another hour. I spent most of that time desperately searching for something sharp to throw myself upon to put a swift end to the torment.
I tuned out most of the ceremony because every single child received a Medal of Excellence. To this day, I maintain that the audience was more deserving of such awards than the children. Stamina like ours is hard to come by and deserves to be recognized.
I had decided that I would not lie to Melissa if she asked me if I enjoyed the recital. I was hoping she'd be way too excited about winning her first dancing medal to even notice me, cowering like the craven poltroon that I am, in the back seat of her parents' car. But if she did ask, she would get the pure, unvarnished truth.
I was just praying she wouldn't ask.
When she jumped into the vehicle, she gazed upon me with eyes joyfully aglow, gave me a big hug, and asked, "Wasn't it great?"
"I loved it, sweetie," I replied, hugging her back. "I just can't wait for next year's recital!"
What can I say? I've always been a sucker for eyes joyfully aglow.