This morning I got up at 5:00 (sadly, not a typo) to put on a faceful of makeup, do my hair, drive to Baltimore, don a glitzy costume, and participate in a dance competition. Now I'll just pause right here for a few moments for everyone to process the overwhelming amount of ludicrous information in the previous sentence. Those who know me will recognize that there is not ONE component of that list that sounds plausible...or even makes the slightest amount of sense in the context of who I am. Yet...it did truly happen...quite possibly because it was so freakin' dark...and early...that I couldn't mount an effective protest against the diabolical plan that I'd been sucked into back in September. You see, my dance teacher--a formidable woman of approximately 5-foot...nothin'--informed us that my classmates and I had just better wrap our heads around the idea that we would be performing...because she went to a competition last year, and (according to her) our dance was much better than the other offerings in the adult category...and she wanted a trophy, doggonit! She impaled each of us with look of steely resolve as she delivered this message...and she actually shook her finger sternly to emphasize the gravity of the situation.
Even so, I don't think any of us took her very seriously at that point. But she continued to revisit the topic frequently throughout the year, until finally it was time to (gulp) commit to the event. What could we do? We gritted our teeth, said "Yes, ma'am", and (reluctantly, fearfully) agreed. What followed was a rehearsal schedule that increased proportionally with the upwardly spiralling level of panic as D(ance)-Day approached. We went from just our usual Thursday session...to two nights...then last week we convened for three marathon meetings in a row. We ran the number over and over, trying our darndest to get stage-prepared...or at the very least appear as if we all knew what the HECK we were doing, both individually and collectively. (Yes indeed, it was a daunting task for a group of very game, but nevertheless 40-something women...)
Finally, our grace period--I mean "practice time"--ran out. I went to bed Saturday night feeling as though I knew this routine so well, I could do it in my sleep (which was a doubly-good thing, since I might need to, at 0-dark-thirty). So after the "fixing up" at home, I met my carpool ladies and popped into 7-11 for some caffeinated courage. And let me tell ya, I felt absolutely ridiculous... glammed up in more face paint than I EVER wear, waltzing into a convenience store as the sun was coming up. I had the almost irrepressible urge to assure everyone there that I was not, in any way, shape, or form, a...ahem..."Lady of the Evening" returning from work. As it turned out, I needn't have worried--the only other patrons at that hour were an older lady buying lottery tickets, and a Mom-ish type picking up bags of ice. (Don't ask me, this is definitely not my normal scene...)
Anyway, we piled into the car to wind our way to Goucher College in Baltimore, where we'd be uniting with the rest of our class for our 7 a.m. call time. (Again: UGH! No matter how many times I say it, it never sounds any better...) Immediately upon our arrival, our spunky teacher took one brief glance at me, smiled hugely and proclaimed, "You need more makeup." "But...but...I have on a TON!" I sputtered indignantly. (And soooo eloquently, yeah?) She tilted her head and favored me with an "Oh, honey, please" expression as she said, "That's day makeup." "Oh, of course," I nodded as though I understood and completely agreed...while in my head I rebelliously added, "Sure it is, for a STRIPPER!" (Which, to clarify, I am distinctly not...not to say there's anything wrong with that...oh, never mind...) So I obediently added more eye shadow and eye liner and mascara and lipstick (all of which I bought last June, with the exception of mascara, especially for our end-of-the-year Showcase...thank goodness I hung onto them) and returned to an approving nod from our taskmaster--um, "teacher".
Then it was time to shimmy into our sequiny dresses and--you guessed it--practice some more. And would you believe, I found myself blanking on the steps? I swear I'm not even exaggerating when I say that we've run this baby hundreds of times. But I was actually a bundle of nerves, unexpectedly, and it was affecting my concentration...which was making me even shakier. Then I remembered something crucial: I hadn't eaten anything yet in the 3 hours I'd already been up. (Yep, running on coffee fumes...Oops...) After retrieving the banana with peanut butter that I'd brought along in my bag for just such an emergency, I miraculously came out of my fog and felt much better. It was around that time that I started to notice the...attention...we were getting. Why was everyone staring at us? Ohhhh...we appeared to be the ONLY adult group dancing in this part of the program...no wonder the 8-year olds...and teenagers...and their parents...were sneaking us looks that seemed to me to consist of equal parts "Whoo hoo, good for those brave souls" and "Holy guacamole, what are those nutty ladies thinking?"
At long last--and yet also far too soon--our time arrived to sashay onto the stage and take our turn in the spotlights. At that point the advantage of being the only..."mature"...performers became obvious: we got a LOT of support from the crowd. There was enthusiastic cheering. There was yelling of encouragement. There was even whistling and clapping. What a rush! I think I even remembered to smile periodically, but I'm not really sure, since it was all a total blur. I do know I messed up once (How is that even possible? Did I mention the bazillions of hours of practice? Jeez Louise...) but I "danced through it" as our teacher had wisely and repeatedly counseled us to do. However, the absolute best part, the memory I'll take with me and treasure forever, is when we walked off stage after finishing, and the large crowd of girls waiting to perform all greeted us with cries of "Good job!" and "You guys were great!" I have no idea whatsoever how we actually looked out there, but that was awesome.
After that, we could release our mutually-held breath, relax, and enjoy the other acts. I wasn't able to stick around for the Awards portion of the program, but I left my ladies with explicit instructions to text or email me with our "score". So I found out a few hours later that we'd been granted (by evidently gracious, kind, and generous judges) 4 out of 5 stars...and we each get a commemorative pin as a souvenir. Well, I'd have to say, given that this was my 1st, last, and ONLY dance competition of my life, that's just like the ultimate...Icing on the cupcake? Sparkle on the tutu...Or some such nonsense. Now I can retire, having completed my "dance career" by successfully going 1-for-1. That's right, pirouetting out of here a winner...now please excuse me while I head off to remove this dang eye makeup...before someone asks me for a pole dance, or something...