The Nutcracker

E:  So I saw an online announcement about performances of The Nutcracker happening over Thanksgiving weekend. The Cuenca Symphony Orchestra and the National Ballet Company of Ecuador. In an auditorium on the university campus we hadn’t visited since a fire there, what, a couple of years ago? I said to you, “We haven’t seen The Nutcracker since the kids were little. We’ve gotta do this.”

C:  Right, but let’s clarify. It wasn’t really Thanksgiving weekend here except to us expats. Thursday was out because we celebrated the holiday with all the traditional food and a small gathering of wonderful people.

E:  Your pumpkin pie rocked, by the way.

C:  Thanks. Courtesy of “suitcase importing” a can of pumpkin from our last trip to the States. We had a lot of work to do on our almost-finished Master Course Retirement Reimagined! Friday, so we decided Saturday night would be our best option.

E:  And I didn’t mention the performances, as usual, were free! Just checked ticket prices at the Lincoln Center in New York. Minimum price was $115. Another example of the beauty of life abroad. Since Ecuadorians are notoriously late for everything–if they show up at all–we figured we’d catch a taxi at 6:15, eat dinner at a restaurant across the street from the venue, and have plenty of time to see the show at 8 o’clock. Well…

C:  Well is right. We get there at 6:30 and the line looks like it’s already to forever. We were like, “What the hell? Where are we?” So much for those dinner plans. We need to get in line now if we’re even going to have a chance of getting inside!

E:  Which is what we promptly did. People who don’t know me well would say, “You could just eat afterwards, right?” Wrong. If I go too long without food I turn into The Hulk and it’s not pretty. So as soon as we secured a place in line I was off hunting and gathering.

C:  Actually, you did a lot of hunting but no gathering.

E:  Sadly, yes. Most everything nearby was closed, and the restaurant we were going to patronize had nothing on the menu suitable for trying to eat standing up. I finally found a place with sandwiches made from like 3 inches of focaccia and ⅛ inch of filling, but those were better than me turning green and throwing cars around.

C:  Enough about your food weirdness. So in your absence I’m chatting it up with the couple in front of me and their toddler. The behavior patterns of this age group are predictable. I know his happy demeanor in this moment will be very different come showtime.

E:  You hit that nail on the head. I’m thinking whatever happens, we cannot sit anywhere close to them!

C:  We did get inside but because of all the people ahead of us in line the place seemed packed. Then I spotted some empty seats way down on the side near the front. We hustled over there and got two seats together on the second row! That’s not great if you’re watching a movie, but for this performance it was excellent! We could see into the orchestra pit and were right in front of the stage! Thank goodness our line buddies headed in the opposite direction.

E:  Those tickets in New York are $525 apiece! Now, to be fair, the quality of what we enjoyed as far as props and even skill level of the performers probably wasn’t quite up to NYC standards, but still… Let’s just say we were thoroughly entertained. I heard no sour notes from the orchestra, and the dancers were marvelous.

C:  But everybody heard that little guy wailing away in the back. Obviously, not a Nutcracker fan.

E:  Or too pleased to be kept up way past his bedtime.

C:  I agree that the show was terrific. And instead of $1050 for tickets and maybe $150 for dinner and wine what did we end up spending?

E:  Let’s add it up:  $4.00 for two taxi fares; $5.50 for the sandwiches; and $1.00 for a bottle of water. How much is that? $10.50.

C:  Wow. That number is the same as the New York ticket price. Except for the decimal point…

E:  And to all a good night!

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