Monday, December 24, 2012

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Frankenstein's Nutcracker

Sometimes you do things without thinking.  Or, rather, you do them because the moment says do it.  It's the adult version of peer pressure.  Saturday night at the Nutcracker at Ruth Eckerd was such a moment for me.

We walked in with Coach and Melisa and Ed from the South group and went to Portal 7.  Fred said he would hang back and see what was up, but I was in that state of "where is everyone?" mode.  When we walked through the portal doors, Carolyn stood up and waved.  She was just to the left of center of one big-assed row that spanned the entire theater.  There was one group of 5 to step over and then there were some empty seats.  And then there was our group: Charity, a small black lab female, with Lois, her puppy raiser, and her friend and then our seats and then Carolyn and Steve.

I started into the row.  Fred followed behind muttering excuse me's for Coach's blundering about.  Heads in the row in front were popping forward and then looking back. Coach was very happy.

Mind you, Melisa and Ed had an empty row.  We could have not sat in our assigned seats and followed them into their row.

But no, I forged a blistering trail of apologies forward as we made our way to Charity, who was quietly looking for gum under the seats.  Coach immediately got very excited (he's not neutered and neither is Charity) and wanted to become close friends.  Lois and her friend both had glasses of red wine.  This was a problem.  All I could see was Coach sending those glasses high into the air with long streamers of red wine sloshing over members of the audience.

My pulse had just ratcheted up to marathon levels and I think I was close to hyperventilating.  Carolyn asked me a question and I just nodded.  Why did we come to this?

Oh yes, for Coach.  So he could experience the symphony and the joy of the Nutcracker and have a real play experience so his visually impaired person would not be taking him to a play for the first time.

Coach in the meantime had decided that Charity was super cute and date-able. He needed to make her acquaintance and become fast friends.  So he tried to inch his way down to her.  That involved about ten minutes of Fred and me pulling him back and replacing him under our seats, which he didn't want to stay under.

My pulse was still racing.  The curtain went up and so did Coach's head.

"Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrr." Oh God.  I pulled Coach down and tried to step on the leash, but dammit, I had worn pretty shoes again and they had pointy toes and there wasn't much surface area with which to step on the leash.

The cymbals crashed and Coach popped his head up.  The people in front of Fred turned to each and were talking.  What were they talking about?  Were they upset that Coach was being loud?  The lady a few people to the left in the row in front of me turned and I heard her say "Is that a dog?"

"We have got to leave. NOW." I said in my most panicked voice to Fred.  Every head movement of the people in the row in front of us presaged those of the villagers before they burned Frankenstein out of town.  It was getting dangerous.

Fred said in a very calm voice, "There is no way we can leave now. We will only create more of a scene." He nodded to where Charity was sleeping quietly.  Damn that Charity.

"Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrr." Jiminy! Coach! He had popped up again because the cymbals had disturbed him.  Carolyn took over and scrunched him under her chair and massaged him into a semi-unconscious submissive state.  It lasted for a good while until the timpani drum started, then he struggled to get up and see what that was.  Carolyn got him back down and quiet.

From the floor we heard a soft, "Aarr."

In my head all I could think of was the row in front of us marching to the ticket area and asking for their money back.  My pulse had not calmed down.  "When is the intermission?"  I asked Carolyn.  She leafed through the guide and couldn't find it.

"I don't think there is one."

Oh. No.

I stared straight ahead and pondered this.  Surely this Nutcracker had an intermission.  I mean, it was a reinterpretation of the Nutcracker by the Ringling Circus, but I had watched previous Nutcrackers, they had intermissions.  All of these things had intermissions!  Who didn't have intermissions?  Don't circus people get tired?  It was criminal not to have an intermission!  What about people with tiny bladders? Already two people in the row in front of us had gotten up and left.  They were much further down and couldn't possibly have heard Coach.  I bet they had tiny bladders and couldn't hold it.  They had also created a scene and made everyone in their row move as they crawled over the top of them to get out.  I made sure to give Fred significant looks when they did this, which he just as studiously ignored.

Sigh.  We were trapped.  Trapped by Charity and wine.  Damn that Charity!  I looked down the row but I couldn't see her.  She was being good and quiet under the seats.

Finally, after the dance of what I thought was the sugar plum fairies, there was an intermission.  Coach had settled down and was quiet under Carolyn's chair.  I turned to Carolyn, "We are leaving."

"But he's doing great now."

"I can't take it."  The two older ladies in the row ahead of us turned as Coach put his head up to start walking down the aisle.  "I'm so sorry if he bothered you!" I said as I caught them looking at Coach.  I was hoping to forestall the calls for fire and pitchforks.

"Oh not at all!" One of the ladies said with a big smile.  "Is he a dog in training?"  Carolyn started to tell them about the puppy program and the lady started talking about how happy she was that we were able to come to things like this and how good Coach had been.

She thought Coach had been good.  It was a Christmas miracle.

We could have stayed.  We knew now that we were surrounded by friends and supporters.  But I think it is always good to recognize when your child/puppy has reached their limit and leave with the goodwill of everyone around you.  My pulse had returned to normal.

Fred, Cheryl and a calm Coach, who is lying down on the carpet, relaxed and at  peace now that he is outside the actual seating area and on the steps leading inside.
Fred, Cheryl and a calm Coach, who is lying down on the carpet, relaxed and at
peace now that he is outside the actual seating area and on the steps leading inside. 
Thank you Ruth Eckerd Hall for the tickets and for allowing us to experience the Nutcracker!  The Frankenstein villagers slept peacefully that night.

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