I guess you can say I’m a “romantic.” Don’t you just love that moment when you catch your partner’s eye and hold it for a second and you know, you just know, that the same wonderful thing is about to happen between you, but this moment of anticipation is so delicious and predictable that you want to savor it, and then you take a deep breath and slurp the last of your coffee and wait for the question that’ll invariably come rolling out of his mouth any time now, three, two, one….and there it is: “Have you totally lost your mind?” and he points at the boxes of costumes and the bales of tulle you…I mean I just loaded in my car.
Every year he’ll ask me that same question. Maybe twice a year. Make that an even six to cover all bases. Most of the time at least, my husband doesn’t question my sanity. We get along ok. If Guy Fieri would have to describe us in specific culinary terms, he’d likely define me and my husband as two very polite pieces of half-defrosted gluten-free lasagna sheets. Just as interesting. Foreign as well. My husband and I share 4 nationalities between us (he: Polish and Russian, me: Dutch and French) 5 different languages (he: English, me: Dutch, French, German, English, Russian,) and 1 very lethal military training (he: Navy Seals, me: none.) This might lead a person to believe that we’re very interesting. That belief would be entirely wrong.
Last year, when we attended the Christmas party at a neighbor’s, the hostess said, visibly disappointed watching us enter, “I thought you said you weren’t coming.” “I know, but then we decided that we wanted to see your tree,” I answered meekly, because who admits just coming for the free booze? “Okay, can you be not hogging the bean dip the whole time then? And talk to some people? You know, mingle?” my neighbor urged. So my husband and I started the mingle process, by which I mean we stood side-by-side next to the snack table, silently speed-drinking. We left early because a fly was doing the backstroke in the bean dip and also, ugh, who wants to talk to strangers from the suburbs?
“Every couple of months you do this,” my husband reminds me again, still pointing at my car stuffed with costume boxes. “It’ll make you feel creative. It might help you write again. But then you come home all worn out. And now to make it even worse…you want to dress teenagers?”
“And be reminded once more that they can do things you never could?”
Ouch. That one hit home.
I spent my formative years surrounded by a very large, artistic family, where some sisters were excellent at singing, other sisters were superb at dancing, and most were accomplished in both. Unfortunately, as a tone-deaf and noodle-bodied giraffe with zero musical rhythm who was traumatized by the mere thought of appearing on stage, neither of these qualities applied to me.
For some reason, I did not concede to these deficiencies in myself until, essentially, adulthood. Growing up I came to believe that a vital factor of womanhood was being an accomplished singer and dancer, and that I, as a budding woman, was entitled to be an accomplished singer and dancer. I was pretty sure that if I just worked hard and tried enough different types of music, I would at some point be magically transformed into someone who looked good in a leotard and had adequate rhythmic skills to carry a tune. I was also a pragmatist who had a crush on Leo Jansen. He played the violin miraculously (to someone who was tone deaf, anyhow) and I wanted him to notice me. None of it really worked out.