Destined to be a Culture Fan

A story about how an unfortunate father ended up as a ballet fan, and what happened next.

I have two daughters aged four and eight. They like playing with Barbie dolls, which is no extra-ordinary occurrence. But recently, the older one has discovered the Internet and quickly showed the younger how it works. Together, they have discovered the story of Barbie dolls…and ballet. The fairy-tale is called “Barbie in the Pink Shoes” and it tells a story about a magical pair of pink ballet shoes. Whoever wears them can dance like a Moscow ballet principal dancer. My daughters adore it. They have taken up dancing, actually doing ballet. We all have to listen to Swan Lake and the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky at home. Even I myself have to dance at times, luckily the male characters…well, for the time being. But worse is yet to come.

My wife found out that the Hybernia Theatre offers ballet performances and, lo and behold, they were Swan Lake and the Nutcracker. Unfortunately, she shared this information with our daughters. She even gave them the dates for the shows. Then she simply stated that due to her workload, going to see an early evening performance was out of question for her. But there are no other performances but the early evening performances. This implied the already obvious: the person in charge of taking our daughters to a ballet performance was to be me – the father.

I consider myself an excellent father, as if I were born for this job, so to say. But that doesn´t make me any less of a manly man who enjoys doing the manly things, so naturally, my idea of spending some quality time with my offspring would be going to the Eden Stadium where I could teach the girls how to cheer for the Slavia football team. Alternatively, in order to maintain the educational diversity, we could visit my friends in the Bohemians football team in the “Ďolíček” Stadium. But ballet?... Man´s will is as firm as a rock. Firm, invincible, almost unconquerable - until a sledgehammer appears. A four-year-old and an eight-year-old little sledgehammer who tell you to buy the tickets and dress properly. My protests proved futile, nobody cared about my opinion, and the football league announced the mid-season break. I tried to argue that all performances were sold out, and I was, in fact, telling the truth but my wife knows people and those people have long fingers. Fingers reaching as far as the Hybernia box office.

So one day I took my shirt off the hanger in the wardrobe, adamantly refusing to wear a tie “not to be overdressed”, and then twiddled my thumbs for about an hour while the girls were choosing a dress suited for the occasion. Finally, we managed to set off. I had inquired about the refreshment options in Hybernia well in advance but I was told that I could not leave underage girls unattended during the performance, and that I would be required to endure the entire culture load.

We found our seats; I glanced around to see how many men found themselves in a situation similar to mine. And to my surprise, there were quite a few...Surely enough to build two football teams - but with no ball and jersey, I had no choice but sink into the mysterious depths of high culture.

The lights went out, the music started to play. Eventually, the dancers burst onto the stage. Even from the distance it was plain to see that they were all young and considerably prettier than most women that I had ever met, with the exception of the mother of my children, of course. “See,” I thought to myself – “at least you will please your eye with some female grace in motion.”I sank into my chair and let my imagination off the leash. And as it drifted, I lost track of time. As far as the plot was concerned, I did not understand a thing but the music and the graceful movements really captivated me. Actually, I must admit that I was enchanted. This can´t be said about my daughters though. They found the performance a bit too long and by the end, began to wriggle in the chairs and ask me to leave early.

"Hold your horses, girls!" I hissed. “Point number one, you´ve got what you asked for, and point number two, I actually enjoy it…” Oh, did I really say out loud that I enjoyed it? My friends from the pub must never find out. Nevertheless, I upheld my honour and saw the performance through. To my great surprise, delight and satisfaction, I left Hybernia in a cheerful mood and so did my daughters.

I was so excited when we came home that my wife can´t believe to this day that I really took the children to the ballet, and thinks I bribed them and took them to the pub instead. This woman! How do I explain to her that culture of movement means more than alcohol to me? I know! I'll take her to a ballet performance! This time, I will be the Nutcracker!