February 2011 Archives

Pink slippers


When I was younger, several of my girlfriends took ballet classes after school in the town hall. I was absolutely green with envy and was convinced that if only I was given the chance to realise my dream of joining these ballet classes, I would surely become the most amazing ballerina the world had ever seen.

But I wasn't allowed to take ballet classes. And since I was also convinced that if only I was given the chance to realise my dream of joining the netball team, I would surely become the most amazing netballer the world had ever seen, I had to pick my battles. Official ballet lessons were not to be, and I worked hard at learning how to actually catch a ball. A skill which, at 10, I was still trying to master. Hand-eye coordination has never really been my strong point.

I didn't forget about my potential as a ballerina, and I tried to teach myself various moves using the infallible Debbie learns to dance as a reference. I so admired the way that Debbie and her classmates stretched and posed.

Of course, I needed the right equipment. Leotard. Check. (it was the late 80s after all). Leggings. Check. Flowy skirt. Check. Ballet shoes. That was a bit harder... But I was tenacious and wasn't about to let the fact that I had no proper ballet shoes stop me from dancing when I knew this was meant to be.

So I improvised.

I had a pair of pink slippers. They were velvety to the touch, fit firmly around my feet, and featured a practical plastic sole for those moments when I needed to run outside and didn't have time to kick off my slippers. They were the obvious choice for the magnificent dance routines I would make up and practice on for hours on end in the sunroom.

From the moment I put my pink slippers on, I felt like a dancer. A ballerina. In my mind, the practical plastic sole melted away and soft pink ribbons were laced up to my knees. The spotlight shone on me and I could almost hear the crowd roar.

If you were to throw Richard Marx "Right here waiting for you" into an old cassette player and pressed Play, I would be able to show you an entire routine that I worked on for months, and remember, to this day, right down to the very last step.

We should probably count ourselves lucky we don't have any old cassette players lying around.

Of ponies and tails


We waited for the bus at the end of the driveway. The shadows were long, early in the morning. Everything had a shadow. The mailbox. The pine. Us.

I was fascinated by my shadow, and would examine it carefully as it changed. Look at it now - with my hands on my hips, standing on one leg, sideways, crouching.

But, of course (being that it is me), there was something that traumatised me in all of this.

When I stood sideways, you could see my ponytail, perched high on my head in the shadow. But when I stood normally, you couldn't see my hair - the shape of my head was the only thing visible.

My thoughts immediately ran as thus :
When I wear a ponytail, can people not see that I have long hair?
Long hair is OBVIOUSLY the ONLY thing that marks me as a girl!
Would people think I am a boy?
OMG people might think I am a boy.

There was only one solution to all of this.

I pushed my ponytail around a bit, so it was just off-centre. When I examined my shadow again, I could finally see evidence of my ponytail.

I jumped on the bus, swinging my ponytail as I walked up the aisle to my seat, satisfied in the knowledge that no one would mistake me for a boy.

Even if it was the eighties, with my wonky ponytail that wasn't quite centred but wasn't quite on the side enough to be called a side ponytail (à la Madonna), I must have looked like a right dork.

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