Thursday, October 18, 2007

Visitation and Cirque du Soleil

I just realized I never told you how my parents' visit was. It went something like this:

Friday (after getting blood drawn at the hospital), I scurried about sorting, cleaning, throwing things out. Saturday, ditto. Sunday morning, ditto. My Mom had said they'd be arriving around noon, Dad later said around ten a.m. (!). This meant (to me) that they'd probably be here around eleven, and that's what I was aiming for.

Ten-thirty, there's a knock on my door. I fling it open, spilling belly-dance music out into the yard, without stopping to think about what I look like: the hand not holding the door has an almost-full trash bag in it. I'm wearing a dust mask, which means my glasses are a little fogged up. Hair is pulled back into what was a very neat ponytail about three hours ago. My mother is not fazed.

"Hiya!" She starts dancing in place. "Nice music."

"Thanks," I take the mask I just remembered I'm wearing and pull it down to my chin. "I figured the beat would make me work faster. Do you need the bathroom?"

"Nope. You ready to go?"

"Almost." I survey the living room. "You know, this looks a whole lot better than it did a few weeks ago."

"Honey, I didn't come here to inspect your apartment. I like the way you have the furniture set up now."

"Thanks. Oh, hey, look at this." I drop the trash bag and cross over to the bookcase. "You know those great big zippered bags? Space Bags, I think they're called. This is the biggest one, XXL."

I grab and lift it over my head. Mom's eyes light up.

"Oooooooh. YARN!"

"Yeh. I am not allowed to purchase or receive any more yarn. Seriously. I have at least three sheep's worth in here. And I keep finding more! Some of it I don't even remember buying."

She nods. "Happens to me too. Hey, I'm gonna go wait in the truck. We'd like to go somewhere where we can get salads. Is there a grocery store around here somewhere with a salad bar?"


Lunch is bought, consumed in the parking lot outside the arena. When we head indoors, the ticket-takers scan the barcodes on our tickets (beep!) with little hand-held devices instead of tearing them in half. I wonder how long that's been going on. It's been a while since I've been in here. Mom and I are directed to another staff member, who searches our purses (for cameras? recording devices? WMDs?) before letting us in.

Our seats are right on the floor (one of the things that had Mom jumping up and down when she got her tickets -- "Floor seating!?! Row eleven!!!?!!!"). We gawk and rubberneck, discussing set design. I point out the two lighting technicians above us. At least I think they're lighting techs. They're wearing headsets, and are in these seats that look like something out of a cockpit--and they're suspended from the ceiling, hanging right over the audience. Yikes. Not my kind of job at all.

The Cirque troupe comes out and warms up the crowd for about fifteen or twenty minutes before the show starts. They're pulling members from the audience to do things on stage, interacting with people in the aisles. There are two kinds of costumes for the troupe members -- one set is more elaborate, with wigs and heavy make-up. The other set is simpler: a unitard and with some simple clothes over it, white gloves, white shoes, and a hat of some sort. Instead of make-up, this costume comes with a mask--plain white, like it's made from papier-mâché. There are two little eye holes, one more for the mouth, and a great big hooked nose. The people in these costumes are silent, and somehow they can be both cute and creepy at the same time. They keep sneaking up on people in the audience and hanging over their shoulders. One of the masked ones in blue does that to the woman a row ahead of us.

A little while later, while I am watching a troupe member playing with a kid from the audience, I feel this presence over my left shoulder. I turn, look right into one of those hooked noses, and shriek. The clown runs off, mission accomplished.

The show itself is amazing. We each have favorite acts. Mom likes the bungee and trapeze acts. Dad is very taken with the acrobats working with the Chinese poles--at intermission he talks about their impressive arm strength. My favorites are the bicyclist (he did everything to that bike but ride it completely upside-down) and the boleadoras (no picture of them on the web site, but I found something on YouTube that I'll post later).

The boleadoras are like flamenco dancers with accessories. A man and woman come out onto a stage that is set up specially for them. They're dressed in red and black, and each carries a drum. First they dance together, drumming at the same time; then they take turns accompanying each other. Then they set down the drums and bring out these little metal balls on thin silver chains (bolos, I'm guessing), spin them around, strike the floor with them, and dance. Wow. At times the bolos are moving so fast, it looks like they're dancing in/with silver hoops.

All in all, it was a great time. Mom said this is something she's going to remember forever (aw!). And, as an added bonus, Dad enjoyed himself. He can't stand watching Cirque du Soleil when it comes on TV, so I was a little worried he was going to be bored for two hours. Nope. He says it's much different live.

It sure is.

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