For the most part, I have been a boring person for my whole life. Socially I run in circles with other working-class types. This, of course, was not the plan my music teacher wanted for me. Her plan was to realign the entire social structure of society starting with me a lowly and hopeless peasant.
One day after a lesson (yes, I play the clarinet) she suggested that I branch out and audition for the play she was putting together. Now the upper crust of our town always acted in those plays because their families had too much spare time with lesser so concerns about going out and making a paycheck. I decided to go for it. Being naive I thought that I would just bring anything and read it assuming that I already had the part. I completely embarrassed myself reading a religious leaflet as dramatically as I could.
Probably realizing that I couldn't go from a person who is totally forgettable to being a star in one audition, she offered to take me on a recreational trip with the other cast members of her show to an Opera for inspiration. My teacher only asked that I promise to wear something nice as she had ready been given an extra ticket to accommodate me. I agreed knowing I would be able to borrow something nice to wear.
The next day I went to my cousin to borrow a dress. She was nearly my age and size so lucky for me that she also had a closet full of evening dresses. She was more of a clothes horse than I had ever realized until I saw the collection of different shopping sprees she had amassed. Not only was her closet full, but her dresser, an oak trunk, and some boxes on her closet floor were as well. Almost all of the items were new and had never been worn. Now my cousin is nice but she is also a total dreamer. She had bought everything there with the hope of wearing it on some great adventure, an adventure that never happened or ever would. I knew she wanted to help me out, but every dress there had a particular fantasy she had attached to it. After watching her painfully bring herself to part with any of it, I knew to take what I could get and not complain. The dress she could let go of was not as ideal as I had envisioned, but it was better than my jeans and a tee-shirt.
On the day of the event, I wore the pastel green sundress even though it was fall and in the evening. I knew I stood out badly. My music teacher met me in our agreed-upon spot and we drove in her little rusty sedan the 20 minutes to the theater. I realized at that point that my music teacher was possibly living through me by singling me out to try to gain some social mobility. We were probably in the same tax bracket as I could tell by her junker car and thrift store look. It also occurred to me during this trip that I had spent each day since she started with me as a fix-it project as busy but not actually happy.
When we got there she had me sit right between the two "it" girls of the town at the time. They were actually decent people who I had known for years. We had never had any issues with each other. Too bad we had nothing in common either so the conversation was an effort on both sides. The girl on my left had on a lovely purple velvet dress and the girl on my right had on an equally lovely navy blue satin dress. I was trying to hide my shivering in my borrowed, out of season dress by smiling like I was winning an award, probably just drawing more awkward attention to myself.
An interesting and unflattering side-note about me is that I have always had allergies, not the cute sniffles, but the gross snort it back so that it doesn't pour out snot rush. There were days when I was a kid when I literally couldn't open my eyes in the morning if I had rubbed my face at night from an allergy-induced crust effect. A thoughtful person would know to always have a tissue handy to delicately dab away the constant mucus ready to be seen dribbling out of my face from time to time. On this day though, I had forgotten all about my extra tissues or my allergy medications as I was so thrown off by the shakeup in my schedule.
As we sat there together waiting for the show to begin I felt like things were looking up for me, I was at the Opera with some very respectable people. My music teacher was probably so proud of herself for changing my miserable destiny. The curtain came up, the show began and the music was...well it was great even though it wasn't my thing. Just then the old place didn't just seem musty it seemed dusty! The curtain was dusty and unleashed an abundance of allergens everywhere when it arose. Me being in the front, I was at the dust epicenter. My nose wasn't having it. It wanted to drip and my cheap dress had no sleeves or pockets to stuff tissues into. I went to look for a restroom clumsily walking through the aisle before finding the restrooms in the lobby and stuffing some toilet paper in my top before hurrying back.
I went back in while being a noticeable disturbance as I walked in the aisle to my seat. I could see my music teacher to my side looking at me sternly as if she were saying "don't embarrass me!"My allergies just got worse and worse as I sat there. I knew I couldn't get away with pulling the wad of tissue out of my top and wiping my nose without looking like Dan Aykroyd eating salmon out of his coat as his character did in the film Trading Places. I quietly sniffed back my snot the whole show. When the show was over and the curtain came down again. A puff of dust came with it that made me sneeze so violently that all the snot that I had been holding in the whole time sprayed out like Spider Man's web onto those poor girl's pretty dresses. All the good manners in the world could not stop them from screaming out in disgust. There was no recovering from that, so I pulled the long wad of toilet paper from my dress and wiped the 4-inch rope-like snot that was hanging from my face, and dabbed my hands that tried to keep the rush of mucus back in vain.
The ride home was quiet and that poor music teacher was probably asked not to bring me to an event for a while, either that or she thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea herself. All I know is that I was never asked to be in any play or apart of any more of the cast outings ever again. You might think that I was unhappy about the experience as I wasn't expecting it to end in other people's horror. The truth was that I was relieved not to be put on the spot again. The music teacher thought that I would want to spend time with those that had fewer "wants" and as nice as those girls were, we would have never been friends because we were too different of people. I would have never have cried if my dress got sneezed on, maybe because I've never had that nice of a dress but either way the differences just stack up. I liked my life as it was with my uneventful routine. In the end, I am glad that my cousin made the good call of not letting me wear her dry-clean only Calvin Klein dress, and I was also glad to go back to doing what made me happy and not spending my time wondering what would make strangers I had nothing in common with happy.