“Cultured” is in the Eye of the Beholder

Tater Daddy and I have season tickets to the Memphis Symphony, and we went to a performance several weeks ago.  It’s the first one I’ve been able to attend since the season started.  In the past, babysitters have cancelled at the last minute or Tater Tot has been sick or something family-related has fallen on the same date.  Even if I can’t go, Tater Daddy will use the tickets and go by himself.

But, like I said, I was able to go this time.  The babysitter was someone Tater Tot knows well, and she showed up with treats for the little fellow AND the dogs.  Smart lady, huh?

I had no idea what the symphony was performing, and before we got there I didn’t care.  I was happy to be on a little date with my husband for a couple of hours, and our city’s symphony orchestra is really good.

But here’s a little secret.  I only really enjoy the symphony when they’re playing music that I’m familiar with, and I’m not that familiar with classical music.  That night’s program was a lot of music that I’ve never heard before.  (Translation:  It’s not been featured in any of my favorite movies.)

A couple of years ago we went to the symphony one night when a guest conductor led the orchestra in playing the music of Jon Williams.  Puhleeze!  Themes from Superman, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Star Wards, Indiana Jones….and let’s not forget THE (NBC) OLYMPIC THEME!  It was fan-tab-u-lous!  I think it was the last time I really enjoyed everything from beginning to end.

Back to the story.  And it’s not really a story so much as rambling, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

So there we were, sitting in our very cramped seats, listening to beautiful music being played by talented musicians and I felt nuthin’.  Even when the guest pianist — someone from Ireland — joined them onstage, I couldn’t focus on trying to enjoy what he was playing, mainly because I could hear him stomping the floor whenever he took his feet off of the pedals, which was about every two seconds.

About 30 minutes into the first half of the program, with my husband sitting next to me and very much enjoying his evening, I started thinking about how nice it would be to get up and wander around.  Maybe I’d sit in some of the box seats that were empty.  I’m pretty sure there was more leg room in those boxes.  

About 45 minutes into it, I began thinking about the bartender downstairs and how a nice glass of wine might help me relax and enjoy the evening more.  And then after the first hour rolled by, I was convinced that I was in need of hard liquor.

The intermission finally came and I was the bartender’s first customer, which is kind of odd seeing that I’m not particularly fond of “the drink.”  After a few sips from my mini-solo cup o’ wine, I remembered that, for me, drinking wine sounds much better than it tastes, and I gave it to the hubs who said, “Well, try something else.  Live dangerously.  We’re on a little date, here.”

I got back in line and ordered a mixed drink, which we all know was made mainly of ice and the sweet/sour drink mix with about three drops of whatever liquor was supposed to be in it.  I paid for the drink, and just as I joined my husband and took the first sip, the lights flickered.  I’ll be honest with you.  I gulped as much of that sucker down as I could without it dribbling down the front of my shirt.  Because I’m klassy like that.

We sat through the second half of the performance, and as it dragged on, I wished I’d smuggled in the rest of my drink.  I started thinking about our few ventures into the Memphis (performing) arts scene.

We went to the opera once and loved it.  We saw Turandot, and it knocked our socks off.  We decided that we’d get tickets to the next opera, and so we did.  At the intermission, my husband turned to me and said, “Is it just me, or does this STINK?”  It wasn’t him.  It was awful.  It turns out that the Turandot production was presented by the Nashville opera, and the second opera was unfortunately the work of our own city’s company.  I still think we hit them on an off-night, but we haven’t been back.

Years ago, the hubs got tickets for The Nutcracker, so we loaded up and went to the ballet.  It was one of the best naps we’ve ever had.  He hates ballet but thought I might like it.  I went along with it because he’d done something so thoughtful.  After it was over he said, “If you really like coming to the ballet, do you think any of your friends might want to come with you?”  That’s when I confessed that, while I appreciate and applaud the talent and skill of the dancers, I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than sit through another one.

(Now, Broadway shows on the other hand?  Love ’em.  Memphis is able to host the big tours, and I’ve seen Cats (more times than I should admit), Rent, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, blah, blah, blah.  I love the music, the voices, and the dancing.  I’ve been moved to tears more than once while watching these shows, and the opening number of The Lion King made me weep without shame.  My husband is the same way.  Every now and then he travels to New York for work and he likes to call me and tell me what show everyone just got tickets for.  I’ve tried to figure out a way to slap him through the phone, but apparently that option isn’t available with AT&T.)

So finally at around 10:00 or so the performance mercifully came to a close.  Thirty minutes later we were back at home.  Once the babysitter was out the door, I scrubbed my face, brushed my teeth, and put on my monkey pajama pants and a sweatshirt and settled in to watch several episodes of The O.C. with a diet coke in one hand and a jar of peanuts in the other.

With THAT as an option, who needs the symphony/ballet/opera anyway?


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tatersmama
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 05:40:12

    Well honey, about the only thing cultured about me is the buttermilk I buy for biscuits. So if you ever have a spare ticket going, I just want you to know that you don’t need to feel obligated to ask me to come along.
    Now… If I could stand up and dance (geek-ily, I might add) in the aisles, that’s another thing altogether. 🙂


  2. Lora Lynn
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 10:09:36

    I grew up in a college town that had a nice performing arts center, so we got all the big shows that came through Atlanta. I’ve seen symphonies, ballets, and Broadway shows, all from the classy comfort of Opelika, AL. My grandmother made sure I was at every single performance. Except one time some modern ballet company from NY came through and most of the audience walked out when the guy in a thong kept gyrating on stage.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you this other than to say, I love me a good Broadway show, too.

    I saw you beat my Word Challenge score. Drat. I’m going to have to start playing again. 🙂


  3. HisLifeformine
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 12:43:07

    Oh I LOVE it! How can it be that something sounds so good, so relaxing and dare I say elegant is just the pits?


  4. Quirky is a Compliment
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 17:41:13

    The idea of you chugging mixed drinks at the opera is hilarious! That reminds me of the time I took my parents to see Riverdance, and they BOTH instantly fell asleep as soon as the lights dimmed! How can one sleep with 300 people stomping on stage? I don’t know, but they did.


  5. Kim H.
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 09:24:02

    Oh how funny – I love it – this sounds like my husband and I with trying to get cultured. I’m MUCH more of a play person than anything really artsy. I can tollerate the Nutcracker though.

    The diet coke & peanuts option sounds better to me too!


  6. Kelley
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 17:14:19

    I haven’t been by in forever! But I agree with you about only being interested in the music when you know it.

    And I’ve played the viola since 1982.


  7. Robynn's Ravings
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 11:29:05

    Hi Tater Mama!

    Thank you SO MUCH for dropping by my place and sharing a chuckle with me. I’m goin’ back to bed right now (after my son’s sleep study) but I’ll be back over there later for the edge-of-your-seat update. (Think Nutcracker)

    I’ve sat through many performances I enjoyed and that keep me from thinking about every annoyance. But the ones that haven’t? You can’t help being distracted and then REALLY ticked off that you PAID to feel that way.

    Anyway, I’m so glad you decided to hang out with me and, hopefully, I didn’t make you want to hit the hard liquor too hard. 🙂


  8. thefarmerfiles
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 12:15:36

    LOL I danced in the Nutcracker when I was little…went to a private elem school where we went to dress rehearsals for the symphony and opera in SD….and these days I am only interested in Broadway shows (so is Hubs) and live theater. But I am quite satisfied with my two forever FAVES, Diet Coke and PB, topped off only by my DVR. Sigh all that money my parents spent…don’t they know they could have gotten off much cheaper raising me???


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