If you’ve never had massive amounts of bobby pins scraped against your gel-laden scalp while wearing a tutu then you’ve never lived. If you haven’t, then consider me jealous of your childhood.
Mine as I’m sure you’ve gathered-involved ballet.
Seven years of it. That’s a long span of public humiliation. My mother was behind it. She had this image of me as a graceful, thin, elegant blonde dancer.
I am many things, but dancer and elegant are not amongst the adjectives that first pop into mind when considering my own character. Nevertheless, mothers are blind to certain realities, and so it was that I suffered through my slipper, tights, and leotard donning prison sentence.
The British Dance Academy was run by a herd of strict, sadistic ballet instructors. Think Nurse Ratchet does dance. If Iraq had called for a dance-off, these women could have ended the damn war by drafting in their troops. Any child between the ages of six and eighteen who had passed the most recent bi-annual exam would have kicked the sand with their pointed toes in time to brise it back home for dinner. I don’t think I would have made the draft, but that’s a direct consequence of my relationship with the exams.
They were horrible ordeals involving a panel of stone-wall faced women. Each trembling ballerina was sent in solo, to perform her duties to the judges. Being as graceful as an elephant, this was always a problem for me, but when I was nine-it was especially horrendous.
The night before my exam, I prepared my tights, slippers, leotard and went to grab my skirt out of my dance bag. Only children between five and seven actually wore the tutus, once we reached eight-we were upgraded to satin wrap around skirts.
Which is where my demise occurred.
Somehow during the last rehearsal, I had mixed my skirt with another girls, a girl in my class who was far, far bigger than myself. Her exam was not until a week after mine, and as I had put off preparing myself until the last minute, there was no time left to inform my mother of this mistake. The skirt wrapped around my tummy with FAR too much extra fabric. So I did what any girl would do.
I put on my MacGyver thinking cap, and went to work coming up with a plan that would allow me to wear her skirt and finish my exam without telling my mother of the problem. I would fix it myself.
Which is why the following morning, I showed up to my ballet exam wearing a total of fifteen pair of cotton panties underneath my tights and leotard, which were underneath the sweatpants I wore over them on the car ride.
Hence, my mother could not see what her genius daughter was up to.
I strode into the examination room, faced the judges, and by all accounts looked like a girl in a diaper.
And then of course, I danced.
If youtube had existed back then, I am sure I would have become an instant sensation. Luckily for me, I was sent out with strict instruction to relocate my own skirt, and a long-winded lecture explaining that my solution was preposterous, undignified, and a disgrace to the world of ballet.
To be fair, I’m pretty sure that with or without my extra undies, I was forever doomed to be a stain on the world of dance.