Do you have Christmas traditions? You probably do; we certainly do. One of my favorites is attending the Nutcracker ballet every year at the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been transfixed by the grace and beauty of both the dancers and the music. It's just breathtaking to me. My husband has been kind enough to go with me to the ballet before. You'd have to meet him to see the humor in this. He's a cross between a bouncer and a lumberjack, with the sweetest heart in the world. He would rather have bamboo shoved under his nails than watch a bunch of dancers (especially men) jump and gyrate around onstage, but he was always my date when my girlfriends were otherwise occupied.
I digress. My daughter, my niece and my daughter's boyfriend's mom went to this year's performance. We were all so excited to have a girls' night out.
Not long after we got settled into our orchestra-level seats at the Fox, the lights dimmed and the performance was underway. I closed my eyes and let the music take me to Western Europe, the 1800s. Ahhh, bliss. Only this time, bliss was interrupted by two kids fighting over territory in the row of seats behind us. "STOP it!" "Move OVER!" "Mom, tell him to get his feet off me!"
I couldn't believe it. I don't think I've ever experienced that before. Yes, I have seen people bring their children to the theatre; I myself have done it. I think it's a great experience and a good way to teach children how to behave in a different environment. These parents had apparently skipped right over the "teaching to behave" step.
"BAM. BAM." Two swift kicks in the back of my seat. I had yet to hear a parent speak up to say anything to either of the kids. Then the whispering started. You know, the kind of "whispering" that is actually a stifled shout, the kind you can hear from two blocks away. The whole family was catching up on their day during the performance. I fidgeted in my seat and turned around to look at the clan seated behind me. Usually, that's all it takes to hush an annoying theatre-goer. I got a belch in return for my effort. It might have been from Dad, I couldn't really tell. Maybe Mom.
The offending family continued their interruptions throughout the rest of the performance. They seemed to be playing a private version of Musical Chairs, in which they were the only ones who could hear the music. They were up and down, switching seats, leaving and coming back and every time they moved, our heads would get banged without warning.
There's a point during the performance when snow falls on the audience. The spectacle was so fascinating to the kid sitting behind me that he felt compelled to smack my head in order to catch a few of the snowflakes. Again, not a peep from either parent. I counted to ten, not wanting to ruin the evening for everyone else by coming unglued on this ill-behaved brat or his parents.
The performance ended shortly after said snowfall. When we were all standing in the aisle waiting our turn to exit, the dad remarked to the mom, "That show sucked, even if the tickets were free."
Hmmm. Shoulda known. Next year, I'm wearing a rain hat, a neck brace and ear muffs. The last bastion of civilized behavior is no longer safe.