Let’s talk about this season’s Nutcracker rehearsals, shall we?… And Jane’s continued attempt to find a new man with whom to share her world.
So, I don’t recall whether or not I shared with you last year that my dance partner could not dance… Okay, wait. Let me back up and start from the beginning of time (the beginning of Nutcracker time, that is).
In 2013, I danced for the first time in The Nutcracker party scene (Act I) with my daughter’s ballet company. I was assigned to a dance partner who had cold, clammy hands, a nervous giggle, smelly feet and an overall “Pigpen” quality. (The “Peanuts” kind of Pigpen.) He wasn’t an eloquent dancer by any means, but he could keep the beat and move. Our stage position was middle row, on the left (house right). This did not bode well for my future dancing days. But…
In 2014, Pigpen decided not to rejoin the cast so I was reassigned to another man: #1 Dad. I call him that for two reasons: 1/ We were the first family (Family #1) to walk out on stage at the beginning of the show. (Pigpen and I had been Family #2… so as you can see, I was really moving up in the world.) And 2/ #1 Dad was the quietest, calmest, most gentlemanly dad in the show, and he even had a sense of humor. I admit it took him a number of weeks to finally understand and react to my jokes, but overall, it was a good experience. Our dance position was front row, on the left. Did you catch that? Front row! Because we were that good. (ha)
Thank goodness, in 2015, #1 Dad and I were reunited to perform together in the show again. That year, we laughed almost constantly during rehearsals and went on to star in the production. Just kidding. But we did still dance in the front row, on the left. This is, btw, the most precarious position I could ever dance in because it is near the edge of the stage and when you’re swirling in a ballgown doing the quickstep, hovering over an audience with all the bright and shiny lights in your eyes and you don’t feel all that secure in your dance shoes to begin with… well… let’s just say the people sitting in the front row of the audience were lucky I didn’t trip on my dress, fall off the stage and land in their laps.
In 2016, #1 Dad and I reported to rehearsal thinking we’d, of course, be paired with each other again. After all, we’d been “together” for two years at that point… no one would dare to split up such a good combination… except, that’s exactly what the Artistic Director did. We were both paired up with inexperienced dancers. I guess we were both so talented that the artistic director knew we could turn the new dancers into stars, too! But during our rehearsals, #1 Dad and I would occasionally throw each other knowing looks that questioned, “Why?!” At one point, he even admitted that he missed me. So ya see? I wasn’t imagining things….
Anyway, despite my attempts to realign my hopes and dreams of stardom with the efforts of my NEW partner, it was all for naught. New Partner could not dance. At all… No rhythm. No rhyme. No nothin’. But as the weeks went by and he practiced and practiced alone at home in his basement, he finally got the moves down. Not perfect, but doable. Kinda like having Pigpen back again, but without the dust cloud. However, because of New Partner’s lack of experience and tendency to forget what step came next, our stage position was relegated to the back row on the right — as in: behind all of the other dancers in the scene. I guess the good news is that I couldn’t fall off the stage from back there. I could, however, twirl into the stage sets.
Now we’re back in good ole 2017.
#1 Dad apparently decided not to perform in the show this year. But we ladies were told that there would be a Mystery Dad joining the group this season. Could it be? Could there really be so much hope in a world so wrought with the agony of de feet? (Oh, come on. You know that’s kinda funny.) I super-duper hoped that Mystery Dad would be handsome and funny and gentlemanly and that, of course, I would be the chosen one who was re-assigned to him. Whoever he was.
So there I was, looking forward to the first rehearsal and its possibilities. Surely the artistic director would be taking pity on me for having been the back-row dancer in the previous year! Surely she wouldn’t stick me with another unsatisfactory partner!
Well, to my surprise, when I arrived at the first rehearsal (three weeks ago), there were actually three new dads joining the show! Well, well, well… what have we here? Fresh blood. I glanced about the room to review the possibilities. The two new men I saw were very tall… so I knew by process of elimination (i.e., standing side by side with them) that neither of them would be my partner. So… that would likely mean I would be paired with the third new guy, but who was he? He had not yet arrived. There was still hope!!!
It was short-lived.
Oh, I was, indeed, re-assigned to dance with him. But Third New Guy (let’s call him Mr. Collins instead) turned out to be the only one of the men who has never ever danced before in his entire life and — truthfully — has no clue which side of his body is the right or the left. (His real-world wife and daughter have assured me that — being a man who works with computers all day (don’t we all?) — his brain is his greatest asset. (I am not surprised.))
In life, Mr. Collins walks normally enough. (Not that I’ve spent any time observing him.) But when you tell him to dance, he overthinks EVERYTHING. (That’s his computer brain kickin’ in, I guess.)
“Walk forward four steps,” says the dance instructor. Mr. Collins stares at her as though he doesn’t know what she just said, then he picks up his right foot, bending his knee into a right angle in the air, wiggles around standing on his left foot trying to regain his balance… and then finally steps down on his right foot, hunching over it with his arms out to both sides of his body… before stumbling and trying to pick up his left foot to take the next step. And what do you think happens when he picks up that left foot??? (Spoiler alert: He falls over and lands on the floor.)
And that’s just walking! The other dance steps are actually a little more complex than walking.
And this is my dance partner this year! For the next several weeks! All the way to December 16, our final performance of the season.
And I would argue that my performance has nothing to do with dancing or partnering at all. Apparently, just being a human body taking up space is all that was required for his audition and acceptance into this show.
I know I sound mean and cruel and heartless. 😐
But I want to dance and have fun and enjoy the spirit of the season. As it is now, I just dance around Mr. Collins, avoiding colliding with him or getting stepped on by his inaccurate footsteps. I do help him when I can… but all the while I am dreaming of Mr. Darcy. Or Mr. Tilney. Or even Mr. Bingley, for that matter. Or, frankly, any other man in existence who knows how to use his body.
[If, perhaps, you are such a man and you are reading this right now… please contact me for links to videos of the choreography, and then report to me backstage on opening night wearing a black tuxedo. I think Mr. Collins would actually be relieved to be… umm, relieved.]
PS: Please also don’t be too tall.
Now on to romance. Not mine, but Jane’s.
So… her favorite guy is out of the picture now. Up to last Wednesday, they were having a great time txting back and forth. Then Jane said the “wrong” thing: “Hey, I have some time between work and my Nutcracker rehearsal on Friday. Wanna meet up?”
Immediate, long-lasting silence from her Favorite Guy ensued.
On Friday (a.k.a. two days later), just to be sure the silence was intended, Jane txtd him again, “Hey, if you want to get together today, let me know.”
Continued, long-lasting silence from Favorite Guy ensued… again.
Not one word.
Until Monday (a.k.a. three days after Jane’s Friday txt). Monday night around 10:30pm, in fact. At which point Jane wrote to me asking what her next move should be upon receiving this txt message from him (I am paraphrasing, filling in words that were abbreviated):
“Are you up? Stupid question. It’s late. How was ballet on Friday? I am really struggling with our schedule difference. I think you’re totally hot and would like to be with you, but I’m struggling to find a happy medium for us with our scheduling challenge.”
See what he did there? He blamed Jane for not being available (while complimenting her in an attempt to keep her interested — physically, if not emotionally).
Know why that is ridiculous? Because Jane did make herself available for him, despite her busy schedule. Not only did he not notice that, he also didn’t have the courtesy to offer a timely response that may have given them a chance to work out the “scheduling challenge” he is “struggling” with.
So… he missed out on seeing her — and txting (communicating) with her — for five days. Couldn’t he have txted back to her that he wouldn’t be free at that time, but that he really wants to see her again, too, and then ask when her next available moment might be?
Interestingly, all the while they have been txting off and on with each other (and I think they met up once in person), he has been her favorite potential suitor amongst all the men she’s been meeting in her dating apps. I don’t know if Favorite Guy is aware of this status… but his silence has caused him to be removed from Jane’s list of potential suitors full stop — favorite or not. Which I (Dr. Love) find unfortunate for both of them.
To be clear… I find his complaints about her schedule at this stage a little strange and/or premature. It’s one thing to express your longing to see someone you care about because you have not had a chance to see them; it’s a completely different thing to express frustration about not seeing someone you ignore for unexplained reasons… and then continually forgo opportunities to see when they make a point of availing themselves to you. Moreover… Jane and Favorite Guy barely know each other. They communicate only through brief quippy txt messages — with vacant weeks between them. They are both only minimally invested in each other. He shouldn’t be, therefore, expecting her to change her schedule. And he certainly shouldn’t be responding with silence when she offers some of her time to him. And this isn’t the first time he has turned down time he could be spending with her.
Here are a few of the thoughts that Dr. Love shared with Jane:
“This is Nutcracker season. This isn’t forever. How is that a struggle? He is thinking short-term… A man you’re going to be involved with needs to take an interest in your life and activities. He needs to be proud of you. I mean… would he prefer a boring, inactive woman who has nothing better to do than wait for his texts? Or does he admire you for being a smart, talented, artistic spirit?
“Everyone in life has their own schedules. The way couples work together is by meshing their schedules into each other’s. It sounds like you are trying to mesh yours… but he isn’t budging on his. And yet, he talks about wanting to be with you romantically. So… he needs to budge. You gave him an opportunity to see you and he gave it up by going silent.
“In contrast… My best friend and I would email each other for hours and hours… and we were nowhere near each other. He was miles and miles away — often across the world — writing to me at odd hours when he was available… We were far away from each other and yet still managed to share feelings, thoughts, laughter, songs, etc… with each other. I don’t recall ever thinking I was struggling with any ‘schedule challenges’. I only wish we were closer together so I could have had all of this in person with him.
“Meanwhile, you and Favorite Guy are completely within each other’s reach… and yet he is making excuses not to see you… He is putting up barriers in his own way; he is creating his own ‘struggle’. You are both so much luckier to even have the remotest chance to see each other in person on a potentially daily basis… and yet, you’re not taking advantage of that time.”
In summary: Don’t settle for what you have, just because you have it. Keep hope alive and pursue what you want. Choose your partner wisely. Talk to each other and aim to understand. Take your time, but also make time. Follow your heart to the ends of the earth. And learn how to dance!