Angel At The Gala

            I am tired this morning – feel almost battered by the effects of having ventured into an arena where “angels fear to tread”. I do not claim to be an angel, but I do admit to a hypersensitivity to extreme situations. I would not voluntarily choose to enter one of the many Gulf Coast casinos. My temperament doesn’t align with crowds of gambling adults, shouting to make themselves heard above the jangling slot machines and eardrum-bursting music. Large low ceilinged rooms packed with energy that has to be the opposite of spiritual rouse a level of anxiety close to panic. I wanted to flee the moment I followed my sister into the monster’s den. Yet I had to follow my sister, fearing that she would be eaten by the beast if I wasn’t nearby keeping watch.

For some years, the Gala for the Walter Anderson Museum has been held in the Imperial Palace Casino. The Casino is a generous benefactor and letting them foot the bill allows the proceeds to go to the running of the museum. A worthy cause… I can see the reasoning, and year after year I have braved and borne this assault on my person. Each year I contribute a piece of art to the silent auction. This year I gave a wire angel, a dragonfly about to take flight from her hand. She suspends from her stand, sensitive to every stir of air; also sensitive to careless handling, which – I have discovered – is inevitable. As soon as I felt I could safely leave my sister, I sought my “Dragonfly Angel” on the Anderson table. Sure enough, she was way off balance, dangling awkwardly as though about to plummet over a precipice. Poor darling… What was I thinking? I glanced around me, hoping no one would think I was mauling the art. No one but me would know that the mauling had already happened, that the victim was being assisted by her maker. I did my best, thinking sadly that the very fact of her being in this room was a threat to her delicate balance.  It was time to let go, past time to check on the precipitous passage of my older sister. For the next hour or so, I trailed her, lost her, trailed her as we were – separately and together – called upon to play our parts as daughters of the famous and, fortunately for him, long dead artist. We ate at a table with beautiful strangers that the noise level made it impossible to get to know. Being a vegetarian means eating too much dessert at events such as this. I complied, almost comforted by warm bread pudding with melted chocolate poured lavishly over it.

All through the evening, little girls in pink tutus with their hair slicked back into buns made bizarre appearances in the crowd. Their made up faces smiled innocently as they offered fifty dollar raffle tickets to susceptible guests with drinks in hand. Their purpose was dual, for they also advertised a coming entertainment by Russian Ballet dancers. Bizarre appeared to be the theme of the evening. Actually, in spite of circumstances that would test any dancer, no matter how professional, the Swan Lake Pas de Deux was quite beautiful, surprisingly moving. The dancers were accomplished: the woman in particular was fluid as a dream, regardless of the carpet that had to have had a halting effect on her pointe shoes. She was slender and delicate of bone. Birdlike, indeed… I loved her for braving the raucous and noisy room, for keeping her focus and exposing herself to the bright fluorescent lights and mostly inattentive audience. Her body swayed and dipped and floated above her partner’s supportive presence. Vulnerable, sustaining a sometimes precarious balance, she hovered: One moment, a swan, the next, an angel. Tiny feathers flew past my face, and my heart went out to this vulnerable woman dancing in the monster’s den.

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2 Responses to “Angel At The Gala”

  1. Kendall Says:

    Oh Leif. I am right there beside you, cringing and uncomfortable, gorging on bread pudding, wanting to run away. Enough dancing in the monster’s den. I hope you don’t ever have to do that again.

  2. leiflife Says:

    Thanks for your empathy. It is always good, and I also hope, but… well… There are monsters everywhere. Thank heaven for the angels.

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