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9:55 p.m. - Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2003
I Get All F*cking Sentimental
I arrived home from work 2 hours early, tired, sick and in a foul mood: nothing to do but feed the dogs and go to sleep. Woke up at 7:00 PM thinking, shit, have to wrap the presents, clean the house, start making the food for tomorrow, blah blah blah life is a bitch. Only I glanced at the TV schedule and saw that a performance of The Nutcracker was on. Turned it on and then sat there transfixed for two hours. Now, I'm not usually fond of ballet, and I can't remember the last time I saw The Nutcracker, must have been about 20 years ago.

Only, I was thinking: isn't it funny the way families traditionally dress up their little ones all pretty, and go to the ballet as a special, wonderful event, a Christmas tradition, to see this ballet composed by a GAY guy.

And also, it's odd the way you see things differently as you get older. I think my favorite passage comes from (although I wasn't familiar enough with the ballet to realize it before tonight) the pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince, about two-thirds of the way through the second act. It's a slow, sweet passage that has always seemed to me to fall into the so-beautiful-it-makes-you-want-to-cry category, like the "Contessa, perdono" from Le Nozze di Figaro. And why should something make you want to cry, not because it's tragic, but because it's beautiful? What is this relationship between beauty and sadness?

However, to return to the Sugar Plum pas de deux: I noticed that the fairy and the prince had grey hair, which may be typical, but I wouldn't know it. I mean to say, to me they looked as if they were aging. And the two dancers performing the parts danced wonderfully together, gracefully, in perfect sympathy. It made me think of two people who are truly in love with each other, who are attuned to each other, whose souls are knit together like a thousand threads blended into one piece. And then to see that gray hair and think: these two are growing old. Think of how they must have been when they were young. Think of how rare it is that love and respect, tenderness and admiration, still endure between two people when their hair is gray. And to see that perfect dancing and hear that sweet music.

I know that's a hell of a lot to read into a three-minute pas de deux, but that's the sort of thing that would never have entered my mind the last time I saw The Nutcracker, 20 years ago.


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