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11:13 a.m. - May 13, 2005
Dandelions and Dance Recitals - What Could Go Wrong?
Crawfordsville, Indiana - – city of dandelions.

At least that’s what it seemed on Saturday as I was driving back from the recycling center. I had taken a load of cardboard boxes (which never seem to stop accumulating) and magazines there and was on my way back home. It seemed that every yard on my way back was overrun with yellow flowers and white seedlings. (Unfortunately, that includes my yard at our new house as the lawn service weed control hasn't quite kicked in yet). On my way back, perhaps mesmerized by the yellow flowers, I decided to make a slight detour.

Katie, my three-year old, is enrolled in dance class. We thought this would be a fun activity and allow her to meet new friends after we moved. Since we moved back to my hometown in December, I was encouraging us all to get out in the community. So every Tuesday she spends a half-hour hop stepping and jazz hands (Yes, my three-year old can do jazz hands! Yikes!) among other things. Of course, it will all culminate in the annual recital, which is coming up in about a month. And the tickets for the recital were on sale Saturday starting at 10. And then, there was a special, required practice at 12:15 on Saturday.

Liz had wanted to paint the floor and the fireplace in Katie'’s room, so the plan was that I would get the tickets for the recital, then come back and take Katie to dance class and then to the store so there would be some uninterrupted painting time. It was a simple plan, or so it seemed. Bethany’'s mom (I don’t think that’s her legal name, but it’s all we know) said that people actually form a line waiting to get the best tickets for the recital. Now, the dance academy has classes for all ages, and each class is going to perform at the recital, but there are three different performances, and not all of the classes are in each recital (Katie is only in the Sunday afternoon performance) so you’'d think tickets weren'’t a premium.


My detour was a trip by the dance studio, to see if Bethany’'s mom was correct.

You'’d think Jimmy Buffett tickets had just gone on sale and the Parrotheads were scrambling for the rare ducats. There was a line at least 40 deep down the block. At the head of the line, people were in portable camping chairs and they had brought pillows and blankets. There were at least three or four boxes of Krispy Kremes strewn about.

"“WTF?",” I thought. "“It’s a dance recital! They’re not trying to get tickets to see the Red Sox and Cubs in the World Series. Can’t they just show up around 10?”"

Obviously not...

So plans had to be changed and quickly. Katie wasn’t going to wait in this line. I’'d have to go solo. I hustled back home, told Liz the situation, and grabbed a quick shower. I collected my iPod and went on my way towards the horde.

Luckily, I found a good parking spot and turned my iPod onto a playlist that I had created in order to make a CD for City Mouse. I was about 45th in line, but they opened the doors soon after I appeared so instead of waiting on the street, I soon was at the entry way to the studio in the downtown area. ”Great,” I thought, “This ought to be a quick process.”


Slowly, the songs ticked off the iPod. Stereolab, Portishead, Urban Dance Squad, Cornershop, and Soundgarden all came and went while I was inching down the hall. Of course, it was the hottest day of the year, and there was no air conditioning in the hallway, so that made the wait even less tolerable.

At 10:30, Liz called. She wanted to know where I was." “I’'m about five steps away from the door,”" I said. "“Bethany’'s mom was right."”

Finally, after chatting with someone I grew up with in my old neighborhood in town, whole told me more dirt about the recital (be prepared for a l-o-n-g day), I got inside the room where the tickets were being sold. If the recital is as big a production as the ticket buying process, then we’ll be seeing the Ziegfield Follies!

First, there was a table that you received the seat assignment for each day of the recital. Only needing one day, I got aisle seats in the center on Sunday. They recorded my name where my tickets would be. (I guess that if someone STOLE the tickets, we could get them back. I wonder how much these things go for on the black market?) Later, Liz said that at least they were being responsible by not having festival seating. Yeah, it could be the Who in Cincinnati all over again, I suppose. Except this time, people would be armed with video cameras. I guess the rush is to get down front and center. It’'s not like you’re going to miss anything.

After that, you weren'’t done. You went by a table to pick up the ribbons for your child. Which is nice, for sure. But why pick them up now? Why not just give them out at a rehearsal or a class? You had to find your child'’s name, and then they’d look for the proper ribbon. Each discipline and year had a separate ribbon. Katie, being a first year jazz dancer, got a black ribbon. (Which, I believe will be step one to her becoming a Goth.)

After that process, then you had a chance to buy a t-shirt commemorating the recital and extra tights. Again, I felt like I was in line to go see the Pixies reunion concert. (I was there at the ’'05 Recital, Who-hoo!) And the weird thing was you had to pay for the shirt at this table, and the tights at the tights table.

Meanwhile the line was snaking down to another table where you paid for the tickets themselves. And the songs scattered through my iPod, stuff by the Selecter, P. J. Harvey, that dog. Just dandelion seeds in my ears.

Finally, I get to the line and pay for my tickets. The lady taking the money is the mother of the owner of the dance academy, and I’'ve known her for years. But she said something puzzling to me. “"We just made the connection between Katie and you this week!”"

Very odd. Very strange. First, the only other people with my last name in town is my parents. Second, my name is on our checks! Third, I am one of the few my name around. I know of another one that pops up when I Google myself (I'’ll admit, I do it) but Scott is his MIDDLE name. (Funny thing is, we both work in higher ed, but are not teachers.) Ah well. I thought I was memorable, especially in this burg. Oh, excuse me, ‘ville.

Then I turned and looked around. There were about three or four people that I recognized as “oh, yeah, I remember them. I was in high school and they were about four years younger or so” The first thought was, “they have kids old enough to dance?” Then it hit me. I’'M the outlier here, at age 39 with a three year old. The Candidate turns 35 this year(I’ll run her campaign, I already promised her) and she has two kids, 10 and 8. So much for that thought.

Finally, as the last song of the playlist was almost done, I reached the driveway back home. Over 75 minutes were spent procuring tickets for a dance recital. And there was more to come.

Liz could now start painting. My job now was to feed Katie lunch, get her in her dance clothes, and take her to class. I packed the iPod, a book, and her dance shoes and took off back to the dance studio. Since Liz was the one that always took Katie to class, this was an experience for me. But hey, I thought I could handle it. I’ll get some reading done on my book and relax for a while.


The place was wall to wall kids, all in dance apparel or close to it, swirling and twirling like they were dandelion seeds in the wind. And the chatter! They were having rehearsals for the ‘grande finale’ all day, I surmised. Which means that after Katie’s done dancing at the recital, I have NO chance to gather the family up and get gone. Nuts.

I got Katie'’s dance shoes on her, and we waited until her group was called. At least I think it was her group. I have no idea what song she dances to and had never seen any of the kids or parents before. And I also realized something. I know Katie looks like a three year old. But I have NO clue how to tell the difference between a girls who is four, or five, or six. Perhaps with time, I will. But I was worried I got her in the wrong group.

Feeling that it was the right group after all I walked her down to the room and watched her walk inside and then the door shut. I had a feeling if during the rehearsal, if I breached the room’s perimeter, someone would take me down. (“We have the bogeyman parent in sector 2; can you get a sight on him, over?”)

I sauntered back to the lobby area, amongst the 30 or so kids and 15 groups of parents. I actually found a seat, and took out my iPod, this time listening to a playlist from a batch of CD’s I made for my potential future political boss in 2008, the Candidate. I then started to read a chapter of “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. This chapter was talking about the Vikings, and their various settlements and colonies.

All of a sudden, I felt someone was looking over my shoulder. And sure enough, this kid, about eight or nine I suppose, IS reading over my shoulder. Sure kid, go ahead. I’m sure it’s interesting to read about how one Norwegian king mandated all of the colonies convert to Christianity, else he would slay everyone and loot their villages. You know, fine Christian thinking. (Now I know where Bush and Cheney got their ideas). Actually, a boy that age would think that would be neat. But I could just have him read the exciting stuff about the colonization of the Shetland, Orkney and Faeroe Islands. Now that - that would teach him, eh? Look over someone’s shoulder and you may learn some obscure facts about why the Vikings had to abandon pork production in the Faeroes.

As more seeds of songs flowed through my ears (the Beach Boys, Neko Case, Grand Funk, the Breeders) and as the seedlings were scattering about the room, almost in perpetual motion, I was content in the fact that unlike this morning, this would soon be over.

Then this high school kid walked in, about 16 or so. He was a big, strapping kid, and obviously knew someone there because he went down the hallway. But I spotted his shirt, which read: “"I Have the Dick, so I Make the Rules!"

Wow! I cannot believe that he would have the unmitigated audacity to wear THAT shirt in a place that’s 90 percent women and girls (not to mention owned by women). First, I wondered if his parents knew he had that shirt. Second, how did they let him go outside with that shirt on? Third, why isn’t anyone saying anything about it? Why aren’t I? (Well, he’s about 6-4 and 220, me, not so much.) I wasn’t even taking the cheap shot about the fact he hasn’t been married yet. Argh!

Anyway, as my anger subsided a bit, I saw the room open and all the seedlings from Katie’s group ran toward the lobby. I scooped up Katie, put her shoes back on and then we went to the store.

As I left the cacophony of the dance class, I realized that I had survived this part of it. Now if I can only survive the recital itself without wanting to poke a hot skewer into my eyes and ears, I should be fine. As long as the dandelions are growing in this town, I suppose I’ll be a dance recital dad for years to come.


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