Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Balloon Dancer ;)

Isn’t it funny how the smallest thing can bring back full blown memories? Last night I was watching TV and saw a young woman in a dress a particular shade of dusty pink that reminded me of our first grade play.

I don’t have a picture from that play. This is a couple of years before.

When I was little, there were two lower grade schools in C-Town. Every year, we took turns having the Christmas and Spring Plays. The year I was in first grade, we got to do the Spring Play.

Of course, there weren’t enough parts in the play for everyone to get to be in it, so those of us who were left out got to be Balloon Girls.

Yes, I was disappointed, but since some of my friends were Balloon Girls, too, I didn’t mind too much. Another of my friends (who was in a higher grade) had a mother who volunteered to teach us our balloon dance.

We’d line up on the stage, and Jane would show us the steps, over and over. There must have been eight or ten of us little girls up there, bumping into each other and twirling around. And when it was almost time for the Spring Play, she brought real balloons for us to practice with. (Wow!)

Now I imagined in the real play, we’d each have a helium balloon that would magically float along with us as we danced. Naturally, I was way wrong. They were just round balloons that we held by the tail, and must have looked like a ball in all our little hands.

I don’t remember much about that dance, but I remember practicing the end. We stepped forward, dropped our arms down to our sides, then swung them forward toward the empty gymnasium. (They brought in chairs for the play.)

I’m not sure how oblivious I was when I was six, but I was really surprised when I  saw the costume I had to wear. I don’t remember Mama sewing it and I don’t remember trying it on or being measured for it.

The day of the performance, someone helped me put on a short pink dress with a very gathered skirt that was made out of crepe paper.

Yep, crepe paper. And we had a headband with pink crepe paper frills on it, too. I’m surprised they called us the Balloon Girls in the program. I’d have called us Paper Dolls. 😛

We wore lipstick (!) on our lips and our cheeks. I’m telling you, we were real dolls!

We took off our shoes so we could dance in our socks rather than clump around the stage in penny loafers. Just before we went on stage, Jane handed us each a balloon and said, “Now at the very end, when you swing your arms toward the audience, throw them your balloons.”

Bummer X 2.

Bummer 1: The one thing I thought would pay me for missing out on being in the play was that I would get to take my balloon home.

Bummer 2: The balloons were just balloons, not helium. And they weren’t magical. 😦

I don’t remember being nervous at all, but with the bright stage lights on and the gym lights off, I couldn’t see anything but the curtains the edged the side and back of the stage. Nothing to be nervous about.

I’m sure we did a perfect job. (Snort.) Afterward, one of my friends and I went with our moms to get our picture taken by another friend.

Somewhere there’s a picture of Marsha and me in our crepe paper costumes, if one of my sibs didn’t eat it at some point. (That happened a lot at our house.) Our cheeks are so red, we look as if we’d just finished running a marathon.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that picture, I don’t really remember it very well, but most likely my hair is a mess (it usually was if I had any time to play) and my headband, if I hadn’t lost it, is probably slipping over one eye.

Boy, was it fun. 🙂

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