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Thursday, February 3, 2011


They say that if you don't like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes! 

Perhaps the weather was the reason for the diversity of dress of those attending the opera, 'The Italian Girl in Algiers', last night, although I do live in Austin, and, anything goes.

Why the Opera? I had received an email last week to say that I had won a prize.  Two tickets to the opera.  I was very excited.  I am not obsessed with competitions, but if I receive emails from legitimate entities, inviting me to take part, take part I do.  I do like to win, but once I realised that it didn't matter if I win or lose, it was the taking part that was important, I also realised that, if I didn't take part, I couldn't win.

Samantha drove me across town to the radio station to pick up the tickets.  We took the elevator to the third floor and as the door opened, we heard a very enthusiastic greeting.  'Welcome!'  As we had not yet exited the lift, I was looking around to see if there was someone famous in my midst.  However, I am not sure why.  Although I am aware of some of the modern day pop stars, (if this term is still used,) I would not be able to pick one out in a line-up, even if I was given a name.  Stepping into the reception area, we were greeted, again, by a lady, slightly younger than my mother.  She stood, bent, behind a window, smiling very widely.  'Hi', she shouted.  Looking around once more, I turned my attention to her, and explained, trying not to speak too loudly and clearly, that I had won a prize, and was here to collect.  I certainly wasn't expecting her to skip, but skip she did, to a desk, where she collected my tickets, and a form, which I was instructed to fill in and sign.  Name, address, date of birth, and then the small print.  She explained that this was giving the radio station permission to use any photos of me, at the theatre, for future promotions.  I assured her that I would probably not be the subject of any photographer wanting to promote anything, but should they find no one else suitable, I would gladly let my face be that of the hour. 

Wishing us a good day, she waved excitedly, as we re-entered the elevator and rode down to the ground floor.  The fact that there was no one to announce 'Tracie has left the building', convinced me that I would not have to worry about fighting off the paparazzi. 

We left for work Wednesday morning, with me dressed in my 'almost' best; a dressy trousers suit which was not too outrageous for work.  The trousers of my dressy trousers suit, together with the silk court shoes, were not really conducive to the sub zero temperatures.  The few steps from the house to the car convinced me the shoes were probably a mistake.  The dozen steps from the car to the coffee shop, reiterated my concerns.  By the time I reached the office, I knew the error of my ways.  At my age, I do not need to wear uncomfortable footwear for the sake of fashion, and take quite some time walking up and down the aisle of the shop, to make sure the shoes are not too snug.  I had not worn these shoes for some time and was unaware that they were not nicely fitting.  By the end of the day, they were someone 'worn in' but I knew walking any distance would be unwise.

Fortunately, we found a parking spot on the first level of the car park.  Unfortunately, we didn't realise that the reason for the excessive empty spaces was because the entrance to the theatre was at the other end of the building, and a couple of floors up. 

Considering cold weather usual causes a personal self imposed city curfew, the theatre was very full.  I scanned the other patrons and wondered if anyone else had won tickets.  Our seats were in the perfect position.  Mezzanine level, five up from the front and right in the centre.  As mentioned, the dress code was very diverse.  Two women entered the mezzanine, one of whom wore a beautiful full length fur coat.  She swayed into view, followed by her companion who was wearing a black and white fur.  The Burberry scarf gave it an almost Picasso effect.  I imagined that as a child she went outside the lines in her colouring book!  Dinner suits and full length dresses mingled with jeans and t-shirts. A young woman with a calf length floral dress, horizontally stripped socks and trainers (tennis shoes) said, 'excuse me' and 'sorry' as we all stood in a Mexican wave to let her pass to her seat.  She obviously coloured outside the lines, and probably didn't care!

The orchestra started to play and the lights went down.  I kicked off my shoes.  Although I was thoroughly enjoying the excellent performance, by the time the second half was in full flow, I was starting to get an attack of restless leg syndrome, and was fidgeting.  The temperature in the auditorium was starting to rise, and I removed the jacket of my dressy trousers suit. My feet were tingling and I could not get comfortable.  If I was sitting in the hall at school, I would have most likely been pulled out to sit on the naughty chair!  But fortunately, there was no one to the left of me, and Dana was dozing, due to the heat and the 'end of day wind down', so he did not notice. 

The performance came to an end, and before the cast took their final bow, several people had exited to avoid the crowds.  I could not make a quick exit.  Firstly, I was in the middle of a row; the other reason was because I could not squeeze my feet into my shoes. Due to the kindness of management, feeling our pain at the bitter winds outside, the heat had caused my feet to swell rather, and it is not easy to squash a bowling ball into an egg cup.  Finally, however, I managed to wedge my feet into the shoes, and limped up the stairs to the exit. We then went down a flight of stairs and out into the arctic conditions to the car park.  The freezing wind did not seem to reduce the swelling and I hobbled along to the far end of the car park.  Down two more flights of stairs and back through the entrance, we finally reached the car.

Once home, the legs were no longer restless, the feet were back to normal size and the brain was ready to turn out the lights.  It had been a fun experience, although next time hopefully, the weather will be warmer and the shoes less tight. 

I received another email to enter another competition this morning.  As I said, I am not obsessed by competitions, but I do like to win.  Actual physical competitions, such as quizzes, or contests, get the adrenaline going and I become a different person, enough for...another story.

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