It goes without saying that any stage performance has the potential to turn into the most flabbergasting memory in your otherwise buoyant existence with a little help from the universe at the right time. Such an endearing little sneak the universe is. You could just throttle the fellow.
The setting was a dance competition. Not a big affair, just the final rounds of a cultural fest within the college. Winning was paramount, and equally unlikely. Imagination and talent were frugal in our little group, both of which happen to be highly valued in contests such as this. We decided to go forward with it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? I’d soon find out.
Where we were at, the idea of competitive dancing often revolved around not so much the movements as what we fondly called ‘properties’ or props. Whereas others used objects to enhance visual appeal, we used them to hide our lack of skills. So you think you can’t dance? Grab a couple of twigs each from the backyard, form a group, and run around in a circle clapping them together at regular intervals. Coordination compensates for mediocrity.
Our dance was duly choreographed along those lines. First the girls would make a flamboyant entrance assisted by loud music along current popular trends, prancing across the floor in our fluorescent shirts and Capri pants. Some mild stunts followed, which for some reason involved chairs, after which we made our exit as gracefully as possible, dragging the chairs with us. At this point the boys would enter, in jerseys and shorts, complete with a basketball each. With all due affection, it was no High School Musical and not even the guy center stage came close to resembling Zac Effron as he attempted to dribble the ball in style without hitting someone in the audience. Once they were done, their
balls props would be tossed aside and we’d join them for the final routine.
Someone suggested the fanciful addition of a skirt to our present costume. Why not indeed. An occasional swish this way and that might move the judges in our favor, not to mention mask our ungainly steps. But the question was raised as to how we’d accomplish the marvelous feat with the chairs clad in skirts, whereby the brilliant idea of a garment came into being, a cape of sorts fastened around the waist that we could easily put on as the boys played bounce.
The stage was lit, the crowd (read friends and acquaintances) cheered and we went a-prancing. Chairs were dragged, balls were bounced. I hurried to put the skirt on and to my horror discovered I couldn’t. The knot kept slipping. As I struggled to fasten it, I heard the song change and saw my stricken partner on stage, flailing his arms, clearly on improv mode. A make shift knot was tied and I hastened to join him. A couple of impromptu steps later, all was well. We waltzed to the center for the final formation. The crowd (the actual crowd this time) applauded.
Just as I sighed in relief and satisfaction, my skirt hit the floor.
Footnote: The moment was successfully immortalized on camera and continues to be a source of eternal embarrassment.