Tag Archives: symphony

Barely There

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want some decent people watching, look no further than the Seattle Symphony.

Last Sunday my in-loves took us to Benaroya Hall to celebrate my sister-in-love’s birthday.  Shortly after arriving, I was absent-mindedly sipping my champagne while silently eyeballing every outfit in the room.  Outfit?  That’s too generous a term; some of these women were in capris and Tevas.

I saw two young women (the only other people under 30, we noticed) in super-short dresses, bare legs and high heels.  I immediately recoiled at the display of flesh.  It’s 2PM, I thought; where are their nylons?

I was in a gray sweater dress with brown boots to the knee, and had worn nude nylons so I wouldn’t be flashing my thighs to the over-60 crowd on a Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t even think twice about it.  So as soon as I saw these women sans-pantyhose, I expressed my surprise.

The birthday girl quickly pointed out to me that not everybody wears pantyhose; in fact, she confirmed that she didn’t think she even owned any. 

This nonchalance provoked the obvious question:  are nylons necessary?  Is it just my East Coast upbringing that forces me into such propriety?

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t think of many times I had seen people my age in nylons.  The recent exception being last fall’s trend of dark black tights with any type of boot, bootie, or pump.  Aside from that, who wears them?  Am I being modest, or just 150 years old?

Before Rachel and I could discuss further, her husband interrupted us to tell us to stop saying “hose.”  “It sounds like you’re saying ho’s,” he said, looking around the room, “and you shouldn’t say ho’s at the symphony.”

Fair point — after all, the vast number of words for this sheer, leg-hugging fabric is mind-boggling.  Nylons/pantyhose/stockings/tights/leggings…and I’m sure they’re not interchangeable at all, but we toss them around like the underwear they are, regardless of accurate terminology.

As far back as I can remember, my mom insisted on tights for every occasion, for something as regular as church to formal family holidays.  They were always uncomfortable, always protested by me, and always required by her.  “Don’t you want to dress like a lady?” she’d ask.

Even when I was a teenager living on the West Coast, she would stare, horrified, as I left for the Homecoming dance in an above-the-knee dress without stockings.  But no one in Seattle ever wore nylons, so why would I? 

And yet here I am at 26-years-old pulling on my nylons to go to the symphony.  Apparently the stodgy East Coast formality stuck.

But midway through the show I got a run.  A huge run.  I leaned over to Rachel and informed her that my nylons were running so fast they could win a race.

Suddenly it occurred to me that getting a run takes all of the modesty and tastefulness I associate with nylons and rips them in two faster than the fabric itself.  Could anything look less classy? 

The run started at mid-thigh but by intermission was straight through my knee and headed for my ankle.  Mike looked at me like, seriously?  Don’t you carry a spare?

No.  No, I do not.  Instead I stood like a child preventing an accident:  one leg tucked behind the other out of desperation.

As soon as the performance concluded and we had been seated at The Brooklyn for happy hour, I dashed to the ladies room (the irony!) and dumped my nylons in the garbage. 

I am totally convinced that God had a hearty laugh at my expense as the woman who judged naked legs at Benaroya ended up sitting at a bar with bare thighs at The Brooklyn.

Update 7/26/11:  I rest my case.  Hosiery is back.

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Mas! Mas!

If I were a cheerleader, I’d cheer for Christmas.

Christmas has always been huge in my family — tons of decorations, celebrations, feasts, presents and Christmas Eve church services.  This year is the first Christmas I will spend apart from my family, and we’re a little sad about it.  We know it will be hard to be apart, but we’ll see each other several times before that day.

I’m using this time to examine my thoughts about Christmas, since Mike’s family’s traditions are very different from mine.  I’ve learned a lot about the history of Christmas through them and it’s given me much to consider.  I’ve learned that  Christmas shouldn’t have anything to do with Jesus or his birth, based on the fact that in the Bible neither Jesus nor anyone else says that we should remember His birthday (conversely, we are told to remember his death and resurrection) and in fact, we don’t even know His real birth date.

We can love and honor Christ apart from anything to do with popular holidays.  Rather than try to focus Christmas on Christ, they’ve explained, we should accept that the two have nothing in common and just celebrate it for what it is — good cheer, festivity, presents, family.  In essence, let’s take the Christ out of Christmas and let’s just have…mas.  In Spanish, that would be MORE.

And I’m always all for more.

In fact, I think I’m well on my way to more.  This December has already been decorated with several events that are indeed mas but have absolutely nothing to do with Christ.  Years ago (even last year) I would have felt a twinge of guilt for celebrating without focusing completely on Jesus, but now?  Bring on the mindless merriment!

Christmas Tree: To start our season, we got a tree.  Yes, it’s alive, and yes, it’s the same height as me:  five feet five inches.  We love our tree because it makes our home cozy and cheerful, it holds meaningful symbols (baby ornaments, second grade pictures of Mike, gifts from friends), and it delays us having to buy a new chair to fill the space it occupies.  (If you look closely, you can see a cross ornament…so I guess I haven’t figured this out quite yet.)

After all, Christmas trees were virtually forbidden by our colonial leaders in 1659, when a law was enacted that made any “heathen traditions” such as Christmas carols, decorations and trees a penal offense involving a fine.  We Rephs enjoy setting up our tree without paying a fine.

White Christmas: The same night that we got our tree, we attended “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” musical at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater.  Two other couples invited us to dress up and go out on the town, and we thought nothing could be more Christmasy than the stage version of the Bing Crosby movie (which I had only seen once and Mike had never seen).  It was uncomplicated, plump, shiny and almost too cheesy to bear — and that was entirely the point.  “May your days be merry and bright” indeed!

Tacky Themed Dress-Up Party: Every year we are invited to a number of parties that require an ugly sweater, santa hat, or this year, 80’s ski gear.  The only thing 80’s ski gear and Christmas have in common is snow, I suppose, but we went with it.  The results speak for themselves.

Cirque de la Symphonie: Certainly the highlight of the Christmas season so far was attending the mind-boggling circus acts performed in front of a full orchestra playing classic Christmas favorites.  Mike took me and my sisters to Benaroya Hall and we all gasped our way through this stellar performance.  Previous to this evening none of us had seen a man in a handstand on another man’s HEAD with only ONE HAND.

The champagne at intermission didn’t hurt, either.

White Elephant Gift Exchange Parties: Two of these are on the calendar this year, one of which happened at my workplace — I arrived with a bathrobe and departed with two bags of candy.  Lame.  And what could be less Christ and more mas than giving gifts that are utterly random?  Myrrh and gold are not random; those gifts were intentional, I assure you.

I totally respect those who see Christmas as a holy holiday, because I do too, to some degree.  After 25 years it’s virtually an innate response.  But I love examining why we do what we do, and seeing if we can do it differently and still be honorable.

After all, when it comes to Christmas carols, for every “…the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love,” there are just as many “…oh bring us a figgy pudding, oh bring us a figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer.”

As for me?  This Christmas I’ll ponder the wonders of His love — while sipping a cup of good cheer.

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A Symphony Surprise

There are few things more excruciating than arriving at the symphony two minutes late.  The stern ticket master does not care that you couldn’t find your earring, that you got stopped by every red light in the city, or that parking was a disaster. He will not seat you until an appropriate break in the set; after all, your tardiness is not his fault.

This is the situation I was hoping to avoid as Mike and I prepared to spend the evening at the Seattle symphony enjoying the work of Mike’s favorite composer, George Gershwin. I bought the tickets as Mike’s birthday present, and the seats were on the orchestra floor.  THE ORCHESTRA FLOOR.  If you have met me even briefly, you know that this money did not leave my hands without serious cost-benefit analysis.  The point is, we were not going to be even one second late.

The concert was set to begin at 8PM and we left our house at 7:45PM.  Ouch.  We hit a traffic jam and Mike pulled a u-turn that sliced five years off my life, which started the negative visions in my head including: getting in an accident, overpaying for parking, not only being late but being barred from the event, and missing the majesty of THE OCHESTRA FLOOR.

This voice continued until I realized we were on one of the best car rides of our lives.  We were careening through the city like a police car chasing a wanted man – whipping around corners at highway speeds, blatantly ignoring red lights, warning pedestrians with our screaming horn – it was fantastic!  I’m not married to Mike; I’m married to James Bond!

Of course, I would not admit that he had driven brilliantly until we were actually in our seats on THE ORCHESTRA FLOOR.   The negative visions in my head insisted that all would fail at the last moment as we would surely hit a pregnant woman crossing the street with three puppies on a leash.

We did not.

Instead, we sailed through the doors of Benaroya Hall at 7:59PM as the tiny tinkle of warning notes rang out over the speakers, telling us to get in our seats.   We had made it.

Part of Mike’s birthday gift was his not knowing that we had seats on THE ORCHESTRA FLOOR until the moment we sat down in them.  Then he gushed sufficiently about the fabulousness of not sitting in the third tier with 3X magnitude binoculars like we usually do.  This was much better, he enthused.

As the first piece began, my heart rate went from 210 BPM to a reasonable 168.  And then 142.  And then 127.  I calmed all the way down until it occurred to me that I might find Gershwin boring.  It was the symphony after all, it’s not like I was at a Rolling Stones concert.  But how could any “favorite” activity of Mike’s be boring?  He’s the most upbeat, fast-paced person I know.  Surely this wasn’t an exercise in elevator music?

And then the conductor grabbed a mic.  If you’ve ever been to the symphony, you know this is unusual.   He spun around and greeted the audience in a thick New York accent, and then he did an unbelievable thing while standing in front of a serious orchestra.

He started telling jokes.

Laugh-out-loud, slap-your-knee humor.  Of course, no laughs were loud and no knees were slapped for the first two minutes because we were all waiting for our seat-neighbor to laugh first.  We weren’t going to be the ones to break protocol.

But then everyone was laughing.  The mood lifted, and people relaxed.  When I say people, I mean me.  I became even more delighted when I realized who the conductor was – Marvin Hamlisch!   He has won Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, all of it.  (Ladies, you will know him from his cameo in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” He plays “You’re So Vain” on the piano at the charity event while the two main characters belt it out.)  I am such a sucker for celebrity that Mike looked over at me like, “oh NOW you’re going to enjoy Gershwin, since Marvin is involved.  Typical!”

What’s incredible is that isn’t what happened at all.  Marvin’s musical genius far outweighed his comic genius and the performance was outstanding.  As he led the orchestra in “Rhapsody in Blue,” lights were displayed on the side of the stage to make it look like the band was performing in the middle of downtown New York.  More lights hit the ceiling like stars and suddenly it felt like we were all transported to an outdoor jazz club in Brooklyn.  The effect was spectacular.

The wine during intermission, however, was less than spectacular.  But no bother; the people-watching was stimulating enough.  One would think that a symphony in a major metropolis necessitates wearing something more sophisticated than, say, Crocs.  I found out that this is not true for some people.   Mike and I subtly gawked (is that possible?) at the array of Hawaiian shirts, khaki shorts, and the occasional printed t-shirt.

And women were no exception, though for the opposite reason.  It seems this event is overstated among some females in the form of ball gowns, floor-length glitter dresses, and ornate up-do’s.

But I digress.

The second half of the performance was dazzling in sound and talent.  Mike truly enjoyed himself, which was the entire point of the evening.  When it concluded we clapped until our hands hurt, and then ran across the street to The Triple Door for quieter jazz and a drink to match.

It’s such a surprise when an evening that begins like the opening scene of a Jackie Chan movie evolves into something beautiful.

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