"It's bad enough you're doing this to us. But the FRONT FUCKING ROW?"
In the past three months, ever since the Lyceum schedule came out, I have learned to perfect, the slightly chagrinned, "oh, I thought everyone would like an opera performance with mandatory attendance" face.
Penny is not buying it. Her look is mutinous and vaguely murderous and sends a chill down my Laura Ashley clad spine. I'd better enjoy this, because she looks like she's already figured out where to bury my corpse.
"Miss McEvoy. Good evening. Did you save this seat for me? How very thoughtful."
I am thankful. If I go down, Dr. Luker is going with me. And he's big enough for me to hide behind.
Emory and Henry College. Spring 1994. The D'Oyly Carte Opera is getting ready to perform scenes from The Mikado. Here, in the middle of nowhere, southwest Virginia. I am ready to crawl out of my skin with excitement. I am a huge Gilbert and Sullivan nerd. I've never seen their work performed live, and to be just yards away is a dream.
Even if it is on a basketball court and all of my friends and three quarters of the student body hate me right now. And I am sitting next to Professorial Enemy Number One.
How did I get here? It started innocently enough. I was at one of my work study jobs in the mailroom/switchboard office. Dr. Luker came in to pick up his mail. He was a Classics professor and pretty much feared and hated. I'd strong armed a few Classics major friends into taking his classes with me so he would have the minimum number of students.
It got back to him that I was forcing people to the registrar at the end of a very sharp pencil (and a threat to no longer copy edit last minute papers for free) just so I could take his classes, so he took a liking to me. He wasn't the kind of professor that you could fool yourself into thinking you were friends with, but he did seem to like me.
"Miss McEvoy. The Lyceum committee needs a new student liason. Congratulations. We'll see you Thursday afternoon at 4:30 in Byars conference room, yes?"
I stammered and blushed and yes, yes, of course, I can't wait and and and...
The Lyceum program at Emory and Henry is a graduation requirement. Six times a semester--EVERY semester--students have to attend plays, lectures, concerts, films, discussion groups. I loved the Lyceum program (I also had a nice sideline going where I'd fill out someone else's name so they'd get credit). The idea of getting to help choose the events was thrilling to me.
Before the first meeting, Dr. Luker told me we had an opportunity to have the D'oyly Carte Opera come and perform. Unfortunately, it would take most of the semester's budget. He was prepared to make his case for a once in a lifetime experience. He knew I was a kindred spirit where G&S were concerned. Would I back him up?
He didn't have to ask twice. We campaigned. We wheedled. I got flat out nasty about the dearth of truly great cultural experiences that came out to a college surrounded by 9 miles of cows. Why was I working 3 jobs to go to a place that would deny me the glory of seeing Gilbert and Sullivan performed live? After three and a half hours, we won.
And doomed my fellow students to a semester of Lyceum choices that involved Dr. Hopp's slide show of White Eyed Vireos, Dr. Goolsbey's lecture on how Kafka influenced his work (think massive canvases of cockroaches in "ironic" poses. And, again, a slide show), and the chapel choir's annual Methodist Hymnal's Greatest Hits concert.
And The Mikado. Which most professors found a way to make mandatory in their classes. I still have yet to figure out how the Organic Chemistry teacher made it part of the syllabus, but suffice to say there were a good two dozen pre-med majors who were ready to step over my body in the street if it came to that. And might even help me on my way to the Big Opera House in the Sky.
It doesn't matter now. The lights dim. The music swells. And the guilt sets in.
I am a total fraud. Oh, I love Gilbert and Sullivan. But I know what I did earlier in the day.
I'd just finished up my shift at the library and had the afternoon free. I needed something to take the edge off my nerves before the dinner with the company. I knew I could break into my roommate's stash of cookie dough and probably scam some Boone's Farm from one of the girls on the hall, but I needed distraction.
I decided to check the VHS tapes the library had recently received. And there is was.
'The Pirate Movie.' The most blasphemous re-imagining of 'Pirates of Penzance' ever. Just touching it, I can feel Gilbert and Sullivan flinch in their graves.
'Pirates of Penzance' is my favorite. "Modern Major General" is the best patter song ever written. The film version with Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, and Linda Ronstadt is sublime.
And then there's 'The Pirate Movie.' A modern re-imagining with Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins as Mabel and Frederic, where most of the movie is a dream sequence.
I'm not sure which is more painful: their singing or the attempts at sexual chemistry. Or everyone's acting.
Or jems like this:
Horrible. But I love the movie.
But I'm going to see the D'Oyly Carte Opera in a few short hours. I'm going to meet the performers. I'm going to dress up and sit down with them and have a meal where there will be cloth napkins and food not made by Aramark and nary a cafeteria tray in sight. There will be what I imagine will be sparkling and witty conversation.
But I have a few hours to kill.
And I love that movie.
I sign someone else's name on the checkout card, slip it in my backpack, and start my walk of shame to the dorm.
I really hope no one catches me with this. If I thought I had to explain my predilictions before....
This entry is for LJI: Week 4. The prompt I chose was .We All Have The Movie. The One We're Supposed to Hate.