Monday, January 20, 2014


Heather, our oldest daughter was four years old when she started taking ballet classes. It helped her grow up graceful, cultured, and beautiful. We have been watching her recitals, productions, and shows since she was four years old.

She is swanlike. We are swine-like. Of course, her dad is the head swine, and I am the swine queen.

When our daughter danced in a showcase at her college we packed up our pork rinds and ball caps and tromped right down to sit in the front row to watch her. We’re swine, but we’re supportive.

The production included traditional dance numbers, a stunning number choreographed by our daughter, and then . . . a dance piece in the . . . um . . . er . . . highly modern style.

I consulted the program. The highly modern dance was called Viscous (as in, the thickness of liquids, also goo.) During the highly modern dance, dancers (we think they were dancers) were covered head to toe in muck green leotards (we think they were leotards.) The mucky green bunch began the dance piled up in a moldy looking heap. I knew we were in trouble when I realized the title of the piece might mean sludge.

When the moldy pile of dancers began to crawl, creep, and convulse around the floor as the music (we think it was music) moaned, I began to worry. This was not going to be received well by my husband, the computer analyst math geek whose idea of modern dance is standing up and stretching.

The dancers continued to twitch and creep. I tried hard to look contemplative and to think deep thoughts about thick liquids. I prayed that it would end quickly.

Alas, no. On the music moaned. On the dancers rolled and oozed. On and on until, like that kid in that story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” my husband pointed out the glaringly obvious.

“This is crap!”

Or he might have said, “They look like carp.”

I’m not sure. At this point it all gets a little blurry—crap, carp. Who knows what he actually said? But I’m pretty sure he said it right out loud, not yelling out loud, but loud enough. You know? I don’t think he pointed.

However, what he did next is seared into my memory. He laughed.

First it was only a muffled chuckle, trapped behind his hand, but then as the green muck folk quivered closer he laughed through his nose, mouth, and possibly his ears. It was loud. And like an infection, the laughter spread from my husband to the others, row by row. It radiated out like ripples on a weedy pond. Several audience members tried to control their laughing by stuffing their own fists in their mouths. This caused more laughing—a lot more.

I was desperate as the levity rebellion spread, and I snapped, “If you don’t stop laughing right now, I will take you out of this meeting, Mister.”

Later, Heather reported that one of the dancers backstage with really good hearing observed, “Hey, someone out there is laughing.”

Heather said, “That’s not someone. That’s my dad.”

After the show, one anonymous critic was heard to say, “Those dancers looked like those danged slugs in my garden.”

Sherwood had no further comment. We went to Dairy Queen.

Actually, I love the way my math wizard loves to point and say, “Hey, the Emperor has no clothes on. That dude is naked.” Of course, usually, the naked dude is Sherwood. Oh, wait. That was in high school when streaking on motorcycles was all the rage.

What we lack in culture, we make up for in bravado.

Linda (Pass the Pork) Zern

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