I have attended only two ballets. The first was a rite of passage of sorts. I was sixteen when my mother took me to see the legendary Rudolph Nureyev dance magically with Margot Fonteyn. The second time, years later, I was to see the acclaimed Mikhail Baryshnikov, in a more modern presentation. Again I was accompanied by my mother.
We entered the lobby of the Miami City Ballet and were pressed into single file by the gathering crowd with my mother walking just ahead of me. Threading our way through the throng of elegantly dressed ballet-goers, I suddenly tripped on something. I looked down and recognized the colorful pattern of my mother’s new silk, wrap-around skirt. I looked up in a panic as she drifted away from me, oblivious to the current wardrobe crisis. Her bright white underpants gleamed like a beacon through sheer black tights below an elegant, black, mohair sweater. No one appeared to have noticed! Not yet, anyway.
I snatched the fabric from the floor, recovered my balance and ran to catch up to her. An old woman with a walker hobbled into my path. As we collided she hissed, “Watch where you’re going!” I apologized on the rebound, my arms outstretched with the skirt in hand, frantically trying to reach my mother’s swaying hips as she continued calmly on her way. When she felt my hands reaching around her waist, she jumped. Then she heard me whisper, “Your skirt!” and looked down. She shrieked and grabbed the edges, fumbling to grasp it around herself.
I pushed her through the outer fringe of the crowd and shoved her to the nearest door I could find. It was unlocked—an empty office. We slammed the door behind us, stopped, and stood laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath. We finally gathered ourselves enough to re-wrap the slippery silk around her waist and tie it securely with a double knot.
Settled in our seats at last, we prepared ourselves for what would be a stellar performance. But each time that image popped into my mind, those white panties walking away through the crowd, I convulsed in quiet spasms of hysteria. My stifled giggles would then infect my mother, as we both struggled to regain our composure and decorum.
Lesson: Always double knot your wrap-arounds!