Betty Duffy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Hot Night on the Town

This post is rated PG-13 for salty language.

For my birthday, I wore a red dress, and red shoes, “like whores and children do,” as my grandfather used to say about crimson footwear. There’s such a thing as a good red and a bad red, and a good red can pass muster with the mother-in-law when we drop off the kids for the night. It can take a body skimming shift to the Symphony and look quite classy. But any red seems to be va-va-voom enough that my husband—a man who still loves to slow dance to the song “The Lady in Red”—would feel compelled to make a basket down the front of my dress with wads of rolled up straw paper over dinner. Not much has changed since 1986.

We were going to hear violinist, Midori, play the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the symphony being a fabulous place to people watch (and listen to music as well). Making our entrance in the lobby of the Hilbert Circle theater, I was surprised to see that someone I knew very well had already made an entrance and was sitting in a comfortable chair by the bar.

“What are YOU doing here?” I said to my Grandmother, who never goes out at night, but who was here at an eight o’clock show on Saturday night in a sparkling silver blouse with a gentleman friend named Roland.

“You remember Roland,” she said, “Merileen usually uses his other ticket, but she was sick tonight, so he asked me if I’d like to come, and I said I would.” She said this in a blasé way, making very clear that she was NOT on a date. And indeed I did remember Roland from the group of couples that used to go on vacations to the Elder Hostels together before my Grandpa died several years ago.

“I called your mom to let her know I was going out tonight so she wouldn’t worry in case someone tried to call me.” (See, I’m really not on a date—I told your mother about it—nothing secret). “Now I’m worried I left the garage door open. I’d better call your Uncle and let him know that the security company might call him,” and she whipped open her cell phone and began to dial my uncle—making clear once and for all, she was not on a date—she wasn’t even going to talk to Roland if she didn’t have to. “Well, we’d better get our seats,” she said once her call was made, and she rose from her chair, took Roland’s arm, and headed to the elevator.

There was still a good twenty minutes before the show would begin, and I understood that Grandma wanted to get comfortable before too many people filled up her row. But as for my husband and I, we had time for a couple of six dollar cocktails.

The Circle Theater has a second floor balcony that opens to the first, where people can stand around and look down at all the new arrivals. While my husband got the drinks, I couldn’t help noticing that from this perspective, he could have racked up some impressive stats on shooting paper wads into the ladies’ cleavage. (Note, when attending the symphony in Indianapolis, check view from front, back, and above before leaving home.) One matronly woman directly below me had such a billowy bosom heaving out of her Regency style neckline, I couldn’t help noting that should the place catch fire requiring me to make a leap from the second floor, she was a good one to land on.

My husband returned from the bar and the lights dimmed letting us know we had five minutes to get our seats. Bottoms up, six dollar drinks.

We didn’t have the best seats in the house, acoustically, but for this performance, I was glad to be close, because Midori plays so energetically, she’s almost more fun to watch than to hear—almost. She wore a white silk georgette dress with flutter hem, and a sailor collar that skimmed over her shoulders. She looked comfortable, but appropriately glamorous.

The last time I went to the symphony, the violinist at the Cincinnati Conservatory wore a hot pink evening gown with a triangle halter top (My grandfather, should you care to know, would have called the hue of her gown, "dog-peter-pink."). It had about as much coverage as a string bikini top, and the audience watched the performance with baited breath, in much the same way you drive down a road where children are playing with baited breath, because you never know if one of the kids is going to jump out in front of your car without warning. Naturally, the violinist didn’t move much with her performance.

Midori, on the other hand, turned herself inside out. She leaned forward. She arched her back. She struck power lunges like Geraldo standing his ground while giving a report from the front of a hurricane. And she never—missed—a—note, so many notes up on the finger board in the highest registers that were crystal clear and strong. It’s always surprising when such incredible sound comes out of tiny people—because she is small, looks like a child prodigy, though she’s roughly the same age as my husband (pretty darn old). “She sounded like a full orchestra all by herself,” my husband said quite accurately.

I looked for my Grandma as we filed out of the theater, but if I know her at all, I could rest in the certainty that she would be one of the last to leave. She’d much rather sit out the crowd, not have to wait for the elevator, and give Roland a chance to pull up the car. So my husband and I went on out to the city, which was hopping.

The Indianapolis Circle is the city’s premier cruising destination. Cars with jacked up chasses and glistening hubcaps, rounded the monument, bass blasting. My husband and I stopped into the chocolatier for a malt, and when we came back out to the street a noisy group of bachelors in a stretch Hummer yelled in our direction (and I apologize in advance for the vulgarity, but it does seem go along with the emerging theme of the evening), “BIG TITTY CITY!” And with that, we called it a night.

I was anxious to call my Grandmother in the morning to see how her evening went, but she beat me to it, ringing in before Mass to say, “I just wanted to let you know that I was not on a date, and if I ever were to date Roland, the first thing I’d do is make him trim his nose hairs.” Amen.

*Thanks to Kate, my sister-in-law, for the Geraldo simile. I stole it.


Kimberlie said...

Aaahhh, "see and be seen." That's the best part of going to the theater. The second floor balcony where you can look down on all those coming in and where all can see you up there looking your fabulously best.

Glad you had a wonderful night on the town with your husband!

Hope said...

This was pure delight to read. Thanks for the chuckle.

Emily J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karyn said...

I am jealous of so many things in your post - the fact that you actually own a red dress and red shoes, relatives that will watch all those children, and the most immature jealousy of all - that young guys are actually checking you out. Way to go Mama!

BettyDuffy said...

I'm afraid the young guys were not checking ME out. They had three pretty young things sticking their heads out of the sunroof of their hum-limo-thingy. They just wanted the world to know what they thought about things. Did I make it sound like they were cat-calling me? oh well.

The Merry said...


Peter and Nancy said...

Happy birthday!

Kelleigh said...

Hi, I stumbled across your blog while trying to find info on the Hilbert Circle Theatre, and was hoping you'd be able to answer a question for me. I'd like to attend Yuletide Celebration and was looking for a recommendation on good seats.

I typically like first or second row of the lowest balcony at theatres. But pictures I've seen of the inside of this one seem to indicate rather high bars at the edge. Are they actually low enough to see over?
You mentioned you didn't have great seats acoustically for this concert, where were you sitting?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

BettyDuffy said...

The best seats for the Yuletide celebration or any concert at Hilbert, are going to be in the first or second Mezzanine, towards the middle of the theater. Those are also the most expensive seats (also called the "dress circle")--but from there, you'll have good sound, and be able to look down on the stage and see what's going on in every corner. On either side of the first or second mezzanine, you'll be able to look down, and have a good view of the opposite side of the stage, but you won't be able to see the corners of the stage that are on your side.

We were on the main floor to the right (in front of the cellos). From there you see everyone in the front pretty well, but you don't see the back rows of the orchestra.

Nevertheless, at the Yuletide, most of the action takes place center stage so you shouldn't have trouble seeing what's important from any seat in the house. I would advise against the third mezzanine if you get vertigo or claustrophobia. It's up high, close to the ceiling, and far back. Have fun!