I earned a million karma points tonight

9 May

I love my sister, but sometimes her planning abilities are not up to par.

She had invited me to my niece’s dance recital Thursday night. On the one hand, a bunch of Little Tinys dancing for a couple hours is not an impressive event, but on the other, I had the night off and insist on being a good uncle. So I agreed to go.

I was hanging out in my dad’s little apartment on my sister’s property, lying on the bed, shoes off, typing. I would be driving dad to the recital, but we had some time yet. Suddenly, Jen yelled from outside.

“Daniel!” she called. There was some urgency there. “I need you to move your car!”

I yelled back that I would, I just needed to put my shoes on. Before I had even gotten one shoe on, she had yelled again. I hurried. When I got outside, she was just finishing buckling Vienne — my niece — into her car seat. Vienne couldn’t really see me from her spot, so she started squirming and said “I wanna see Uncle Daniel!”

Only the heartlessest among us could have ignored that, so I obediently trotted over to say hi. Jen tolerated this for all of a second before reiterating her insistence that I move my car. “You’re going to make us late!”

“What time do you have to be there?” I asked.

“Supposed to be there for dress at 6.”

I moved my car. While in there, I looked at the clock.

It was 6:04.

Yup, I was the one making her late.

Whatever, my sister’s punctuality (such as it is) has never been her most positive attribute. She’s gifted in other ways. With my car moved, she and Vienne headed out, and dad and I (plus brother-in-law Zach and nephew Carrver, traveling separately from us) would be along in short order.

Dad and I showed up next, at my old high school. I hadn’t been there in years, and realized that I wasn’t exactly sure where the school’s auditorium was — we didn’t have one in my day. Luckily (I guess), there were approximately seven billion and twelve people there for the recital, so I just followed the cattle. Dad doesn’t move fast these days, so we moseyed all the way down the corridor to where the entrance to the auditorium apparently was.

Where they were … taking tickets? We needed tickets? This hadn’t been conveyed to me.

Shrug. It’s a bunch of Little Tinys wobbling back and forth to music. Tickets can’t be much. We made it back to the table, where the very perky girl informed us they were $12 apiece.

Twelve dollars. For Little Tinys dancing. And dad didn’t have cash, so it cost me $24. I told Perky that this was a lot of money.

“Oh!” she said, and as far as I could tell she meant this with every fiber of her being. “It’s a two-hour performance, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth!”

Now, I would never take anything away from anyone’s desire to dance, or do anything else, really. And to get good at dancing, you have to first be bad at dancing. And you have to do that young — I’m genuinely curious if anyone ever starts dancing after, like, age 9, because every dance I saw on the night was performed by groups of peers who all appeared to be at about the same level of ability. If a teenager wants to start dancing, does he end up like Will Smith in that one Fresh Prince episode where he has to dress up like a flower with his own Little Tinys to graduate? Serious question.

But either way, as cute as the Little Tinys can be, and as fine-with-it as I was to see Vienne’s own performance, no, Perky Girl, two hours of Little Tinys for $12 apiece is not one’s money’s worth.

And there was even assigned seating! Perky Girl showed us the whole chart, with taken seats marked out. “Now, these are the closest seats,” she explained, “but they’re kind of bad, because they’re on the same level as the row in front of them, so you might not see so well. And these are further back, but you’ll see better. Now, these …”

“I don’t know,” I said, interrupting. “You tell me. Pick us some seats.”

This was not, as it turns out, the right answer. She anguished over this decision. For a full minute, she percolated. Finally, I spoke up again. “If it matters, somewhere without any stairs. Dad doesn’t travel well.”

She opted for the closest-but-can’t-see seats. Whatever. We had tickets. We headed back to the auditorium while I texted my sister a “We need tickets? Why didn’t you tell me that?” text. And at almost the exact second the ticket-taker had hole-punched our tickets, meaning there was no turning back, my phone rang. It was the brother-in-law.

“Hey, where are you guys?” Zach said.

“We’re just sitting down.”

“Oh, you’re in there already? How did you get in without tickets?”

“We bought tickets.”

A pause. “But I have tickets for you.”

At almost that exact moment, Jen texted me back. “Zach has your tickets.”

Zach. Had. Our. Tickets.

I had spent $24 for nothing!

I made frustrated noises at Zach and sent a frustrated text to Jen. Woulda been nice to know that, I’m thinking. But oh well, this plucky little dance studio could probably use the money, couldn’t they?

I stopped to consider that. There were something like 36 seats per row in the auditorium, and 20 or so rows. Based on the chart Perky showed me, this thing was a sellout, or really close to it. That’s 700-ish seats. At $12 a pop, they cleared eight grand at this thing. I don’t know what it costs to run this dance studio, but I really don’t think my extra $24 was make-or-break.

But whatever. Deal’s done. Zach and Carrver passed by us a moment later, with Zach inviting us to join them in our first named seats. We did.

These seats were basically the same as the other ones we had, only on the opposite side. As luck would have it — because, can’t you tell by now, this story is all about my good fortune? — this seat was exactly like my old seat … except that it was obstructed.

Now, picture a theater. There’s a lower section of seats and an upper one. Usually, the upper one is a bit above the lower one, whether through ramp or stairs or whatever. And there’s a reasonably elevated stage. Basically, they’re made so you at least have the chance of visibility from any seat.

So of course, my old high school decided they would take a different route! The last row of the lower section and first row of the upper section are on the exact same level, and the stage is barely elevated down at the bottom. Basically, my old haunt created a row of seats that almost guarantee obstructed view. Thanks, guys, our reputation was good enough already.

Basically, I would have a tough time seeing the actual floor of the stage no matter what happened — and remember, these were Little Tinys I was dealing with, so most of what was happening was fairly near the floor. And then, of course, directly in front of my new seat was the largest gentleman I saw at the performance on this particular evening. He was big in every direction, and his head took up basically the dead center of my view of the stage.

So if some of the Little Tinys could fly, I was golden, but otherwise, I was destined to spend the evening leaning and lunging about.

Luckily, when Vienne’s dance came (so much later), she was on the right side, and back far enough that I could see most of what she did. She was cute. It was cute. It wasn’t necessarily $48 cute (my tickets, twice, and dad’s ticket, twice), but I’m a good uncle and I saw it.

And then I left. Early. I blame it on dad and Carrver both needing bedtime — and they did — but I did manage to escape before the whole two-hour show. Yay me, there.

Postscript: Oh! I need to add this. Right before the show started, they announced that the taking of pictures and video was not allowed.

What? Parents and family members were going to spend $12 apiece to see their Little Tinys perform … and they couldn’t record it?

No

Well, of course not, because the dance studio was selling … DVDs! They were, I think, $25 a pop. Might’ve been $30. Either way, they were prohibiting us from recording the kids so they could make more money. I mean, I guess it saves us from this, sure. But whatever, dance studio. Sorry our eight grand wasn’t enough for you.

Postscript the second: I didn’t even know this part until I posted this! Apparently my mom — who I thought was already on some camping trip — was also at the recital … and she had an extra ticket. I don’t know if that’s a like-mother-like-daughter situation or what, but I now have to rail at the world for the rest of the night.

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