There were several hundred little aspiring ballerinas dressed in tutus, leotards and toe shoes asking questions too loudly and giggling at each other. Mostly, they were glued to the action on the stage. It was another one of those times when I wished I’d had my camera. I would have certainly snapped a picture of the little girl sitting on her daddy’s lap peering over the first balcony to the stage below. And the little girl in the center of the first row who stood on tip toe the whole time with her nose pressed above the edge of the stage. I don’t think she ever moved. For $11 we got a show and the show within the show. As we left, a little girl in front of us pranced across the parking lot imitating the dance moves she had just seen. Mrs. Scrubs and I giggled at her ambition. It whisked me back to my childhood and memories of the dreams inspired by dancers and celebrities.
I didn’t dream much about being a ballerina. Oh, I was always fascinated by toe shoes, and I remember sticking tacks in the bottom of an old pair of Mary Janes and jumping around on the sidewalk at grandma’s trying to create some makeshift tap shoes. My dancing moves were inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I loved those dance scenes in the old movies. I even remember doing my own version of Singin’ in the Rain with an umbrella, but those were just fun and games. What I really wanted to be, WHO I wanted to be, more than anything in the great big whole wide world was Esther Williams. I wanted to be the Million Dollar Mermaid. The Bathing Beauty who starred in those big, showy Busby Berkley water ballet movies and swam in a flaming pool.The one who slid down a huge water slide while standing up or dropped from dangerous heights into a ring of bobbing beauties. As a kid, I stayed up late many a night watching her old movies. For me, she had it all. She was beautiful. And athletic. And she got to swim all of the time. My swimming time was limited. When you grow up in the sticks, you don’t get much time in the city pool. Our city pool was less than a block away from my grandma’s house, and in the summer I spent plenty of time standing at the fence watching the swimming, but we were rarely there long enough for me to jump in. I think maybe that’s why I was so fascinated with Esther and her movies. We always want what we can’t or don’t have, and Esther had a big fancy pool at her disposal all of the time. She had great swimsuits. Cute swim caps. (Yes, I’m old enough to have had one of those.) And she always got the man. By the way, she always got the man in real life, too. I read her autobiography a few years ago, and she had quite the love life. She was one hot mama.
Yep. You could keep your toe shoes, I wanted the fancy swimsuit. I wanted to be a mermaid. And ya’ wanna know a secret? I spend a fair amount of time scouring TMC, AMC and all of those other old movie channels for her movies now. It’s one of the few things that will keep me up past 11pm anymore. Well, that and eating popcorn too close to bedtime. But that’s another post.
*Images courtesy of DVDTalk.com and HollywoodBlog.com