La Boutique

Saturday, Sept 27, 2008. I do ballet now. I'm officially a danseur. Or a ballerino. I'm not sure I know the difference. I've only been doing it for about two months and I'm not particularly fluent in the vernacular end of it yet. I think one of those terms is probably more correct than the other though. Whichever one that is, that's what I am. And my two months of training has been ample time to make me slightly better at it than Baryshnikov was in his prime.

Either that or I'm slightly worse than a really geriatric chorea patient. Or a really pediatric epilepsy patient (i.e. West syndrome). Or maybe a middle aged man with severe ataxia. Or maybe a freshly pubescent boy with kind of bad Osgood-Schlatter and really bad spina bifida. Or a dead baby. One that died of SIDS. I could go on. My point is I'm really bad.

My dire (generally humiliating) lack of skill isn't why I waited two months to admit my participation though. I would have mentioned my life as a danseur (I decided to use this word instead of ballerino because Microsoft Word recognizes it) prior to right now if only my dedication was a little less fragile.

My fear in opening an earlier journal entry with "I do ballet now" was that I would have equated that announcement to accomplishment. The moment I admitted anything about ballet, I would have considered that full achievement of the goal I originally set out for.

The goal I set out for was this: prove to the world (consisting of about eighteen people) that a bulky retired bodybuilder with an oft-low-class woman's name can be more graceful than his chromosomal counterpart. And writing "I do ballet now" would have brought complete satiety to that goal. And that, in turn, would have been reason enough for me to quit (with an ill-deserved sense of triumph).

But now something has happened which makes it so I can't quit. And thus I feel secure in my announcement.

That something is a recital. I agreed to be in a recital. I didn't mean to. The position was more or less assumed upon me.

Either way, at some point I promised to follow through with it. So if I quit now, I'd be letting everyone (about a dozen people) down. And more than anything in the world, I hate letting people down. I hate it even more than (or at least as much as) I hate mayonnaise. That's a lot.

So I can't quit.

Further, if I didn't quit, but just stopped practicing, I'd never overcome my ataxic dancing abilities. And then - in addition to letting people down - my performance at the recital would become one of my more devastating memories. I'd ultimately become the geriatric chorea patient who's still embarrassed about it.

Thus, let me confidently introduce you to Courtney, the fortitude-enhanced ballerino (I decided to mix up the lingo a bit... I was going to make a joke here about keeping readers on their toes, but then I decided that was probably far too cliche of a joke in the arena of ballet-comedy).

Anyway, the recital I'm going to be in is La Boutique (i.e. The Magic Toy Shop).

I'm a cancan.

I'm still not sure what this is. I thought the cancan was a sort of galloping 19th century line dance abused by The Rockettes. Instead, I'm told it's a toy. Rather I'm a toy. But I'm also told that I'm the most magnificent toy in the entire shop. One of two anyway. Apparently the toymaker built two cancans (what a bitch) and I'm just one of them - not both. The other is named Sunny. That's not her stage name (i.e. cancan name... apparently we don't have cancan names). Sunny is her real name (as a human being). And the human being version of her is a totally gorgeous seventeen year old (I feel a little bit pedophiliac in admitting... but only a little). The cancan version of her is - I assume (with a ton of confidence) - the lead role in the performance.

She does all these graceful moves (that have names I have yet to learn). While she does them, I'm doing moves too... but my moves all take place from the waist up. I just stand behind her, blending in with the background while hoisting her around in order to make her moves even more outstanding. Hopefully as December gets nearer, I won't be hoisting her quite as gracelessly as I have been. In the mean time, each of these practice hoists is followed with "keep her plum over her box!"


"Her box. Don't make this a crotch shot."


And then I'm told something about "bag bone" or something. Perhaps I just misheard that part. The point is Sunny (a.k.a. Plum Box) is really good and I'm really bad.

But we're still pretty early in the rehearsals. They started a couple weeks ago and the performance isn't until December 14th (at Chemeketa... where I worked... and I'm convinced it's going to be in the exact gymnasium in which I taught P.E.... and that all of my old students will be there).

Actually I'm not worried about that. Perhaps I am. But I have a larger worry. This: La Boutique involves acting. There seems to be a lot of it. And I'm not good at acting. Moreover, I think I'm the only person ever birthed with self actualization enough to recognize a personal lack of thespian prowess.

Everyone else in the world seems to lump acting into the same pile of general life dysmorphia that they do automobile driving. To be born human is to think you're the greatest actor on any stage and the best driver on any road.

On the contrary, I have a good understanding of my skills in both of these. I'm completely aware of exactly how good I am... which is exactly as good as everyone else who thinks they're great: terrible.

I guess some people (with no formal training) are naturally better at acting than me. I'm convinced these people are just good liars though. Acting and lying are exactly the same thing. Perhaps acting is a bit more bodily. Other than that, there's no difference. Both are dependent entirely on how much I can believe what I'm doing, knowing full well it's fake.

I wasn't born with the capacity to lie particularly well, thus compromising my theatrical prowess. I just have no ability to believe my own lies - that's my problem. However, in telling them, I've learned a way around this: specificity. I've figured out that, in order to make people believe your lies, when you yourself don't, all you have to do is be really specific. Whatever it is that you're lying about, be really specific in the details of that lie. It works every time.

Now if I could only figure out how to apply this trick to the stage, I think I might end up doing pretty well as an actor. Or at least as a theatrical Sunny-hoister. I haven't figured it out yet though. I'm hoping I do on or before December fourteenth. That's the date of the recital. If I figure it out by then, I'll let you know how it goes.

I think Sunny turns eighteen about half a year after the recital.

I'll be approaching twenty-nine then. God, life goes fast. Hopefully I'll have squeezed in a little grace before commencing my life as the geriatric chorea patient.