I had been relieved that we weren’t expected to sell a dozen tickets to the show, as had been the case the previous year. But that relief was short-lived, as the list of expected “Donate or pay to cover the cost” items grew – Cookie dough fundraiser, item for Chinese Auction gift basket, Program ad to be sold or pay- for- the- program- printing costs. “They stretched in never-ending line.”*
The cookie dough was an unexpected hit – never in my years of Boy Scout/Swim team/School trip fundraising sales have I been ever asked by a friend for the actual material that we were supposed to hawk. This time it happened, but just my luck, after the fundraiser was over.
Of course, there was the mandatory rush at unholy hours of the night to collect the cookie dough from the ballet school, having completely forgotten about pick-up day. The ballet school director was kind enough to leave the outside entrance doors unlocked for unfortunate stragglers to rush and pick up their packages, “I’m sure that the cookie dough will stay frozen, since the entranceway isn’t heated,” she cooed. Oops, I forgot that frozen cookie dough needs to stay frozen before it reaches the buyer.”Better to rush out at 10 pm and collect it sooner rather than wait till the next morning.”
I called my husband, who was helping with home improvement at a friend’s house. “Can you pick up the cookie dough from M’s ballet class, when you finish at R's place? It’s at the front entrance near the umbrella stand. The outer door will be open.”
With a mouthful of nails, he mumbled irately into the phone. “Never mind”, I intoned in resignation. I bundled up M in her jacket and did the fastest round trip to the ballet school and back that I have ever achieved- 20 minutes flat. The traffic was close to zero, I had all lights green, and drove at normal speed!
The days for the performance drew closer and the whole ballet school was in a frenzy of rehearsals and practice sessions. It was amazing to watch some semblance of order emerging from the chaos of dozens of girls of various shapes and sizes milling about the largest ballet studio. M’s rehearsals went by like clockwork and soon enough, it was time for the performance.
I scrambled to get her hair in hot curlers and ready for costuming just after she got home from school. We rushed to the school room which had been designated for them to dress and set up shop, the tables covered with ribbons and sashes, moms with mouthfuls of pins, valiantly attempting to tame sagging sashes and bows.
At last, it was time to go onstage for a short practice before the actual performance. M looked adorable in her costume, and I took a few photos of her which ended up showing her with closed eyes in 8 out of 10 shots. I had just finished putting away the camera when she piped up “Amma, my shoe is messed up!” Sure enough, the stitches from the home-trimmed split sole had completely given way. I was at a loss for what to do when one of the costume moms suggested I run to the prop room behind the stage and see if the props manager had a glue gun.
I didn’t break any speed records getting there, though I nearly managed to crash into one of the show’s stars, a professional dancer who was performing as the Cavalier who partners the Sugar Plum Fairy. With barely enough apologies, I continued my race against Time and reached the prop room.
The gentleman there seemed remarkably relaxed, chewing gum as he waited for the start of the performance. He amiably plugged in the glue gun, which was supposed to reach the ideal temperature after a couple of minutes. Tick-tock, tick-tock- 5 minutes and still no sign of melting glue.
“Aren’t you M’s mom?” I heard the voice behind me and turned to see the ballet school director. She took one glance at the sad shoe in my hand and said “I may have a spare shoe she can use. Let me check my bag.” She rummaged in her capacious handbag and held aloft the Holy Grail, excuse me, a substitute ballet shoe. I grabbed it from her with profuse thanks and high-tailed it back to the dressing room line, just in time to shove it on M’s foot as they started to skip their way to the backstage.
* From 'Daffodils', William Wordsworth