Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Looking Back (part 2)

     I never intended for this to be a multi-part adventure. The premise was simple enough; when I was 16 two friends and I drove 180 miles to bluff our way into what I had been told was the last legitimate burlesque theatre in America. (And I still believe that to be true.) But in the process of cluttering paper with words for this post , so many unexpected thoughts and realizations competed for attention that I was forced to stop and “sound the depth of what I would profess” as Faust worded it.

     I’m not sure I have it all aright yet. However …

     So there we were, 12th row of the Empire theatre, waiting for the curtain to come up – me, Roger, Bill … (green hair, red hair, sandy yellow hair. We must have looked like a living traffic light.) I had been looking forward to this very moment for over a month, discussing among ourselves even the most minute details every night on the way home from school. This was, of course, a secret far too large to keep, and soon we became the envy of every red-blooded male in the tenth grade. Life just didn’t get any better than that.

     The first act was a woman, 40ish, dressed like a drum majorette, twirling a baton and tap dancing. As one, we leaned forward in breathless anticipation, waiting for something to happen. At one point she threw the baton so far up that it careened off a stage light and shot like a guided missile into the orchestra pit. We supposed that was the end of the act, because she did a buck and wing off stage, and never came back.

     The next performer was a man in a very old-fashioned tux who sang “Ah Sweet Mystery Of Life,” while a half dozen or so overly made up women paraded around the stage in costumes reminiscent of French royalty. In unison, the three of us slumped back in our seats. Already we were mentally preparing the lies we would spread Monday morning on the way to school.

     The next act began with promise. A woman came on stage carrying two enormous feather fans – one in front and the other behind her. She danced and twirled, adroitly shuffling fans to cover what we had shelled out twenty bucks apiece to see.  When she finally fluttered off stage, I was reasonable sure I had seen a pudgy face, thick ankles, red shoes, and enough moldy feathers to outfit the entire Sioux Indian nation.

     This was getting more disappointing by the moment. Tragic. Sad. I had seen better action behind the bleachers following a football game on any given Friday night.

     And for free!

Yeah, there's more to come.