i went to see the nutcracker today with my friend sunny, as her husband was unavailable to accompany her. yes, i hate christmas, but i’m comfortable in the theater. i spent most of my life on stage, so i try not to turn down the opportunity to be near one again, though i’d prefer to be on one instead of facing it.

i’m not a big fan of ballet, and i understand ballet even less than i understand opera, which is to say that i’m pretty much clueless about them both. i don’t understand men either, but i still give them a chance. and i love sunny. so i went.

i was on dayquil, since i can’t seem to get well nowadays, and i noticed that i discovered a different dimension of the ballet while medicated. i also noticed not only that the guy who played the role of the nutcracker had a perfectly textbook ass, there was a rather adorable man playing the trumpet in the orchestra. sunny pointed out to me at this point that the members of the orchestra were high school aged, which made me feel like a leacherous old woman. which i guess i am. but i digress…

when i was in high school, i went to watch alice in chains play at a pretty big venue in downtown denver. if memory serves, sepultura and gruntruck opened up for them. my girlfriend and i parked the car, and walked in the direction we felt like we should be headed. it was november in denver, but, like most kids of that age, fashion superceeded warmth, and we opted for jeans and t-shirt, sans jackets. as we got closer to the show, we noticed large groups of well dressed families, women in floor length gowns, men in coats with tails, and little girls wearing christmas dresses and patent leather shoes. we started to check our tickets, thinking the theater we drove to was in error, and saw a man dressed up as a nutcracker hollering directions. his face was painted up, gold buttons on his jacket, and he gently swung his arms and pointed as he called out in a festive but fake british-esque accent: “Nutcracker, this way! Art Gallery, to your left. Christmas Display, straight ahead!” we approached him and the smile left his face as he noticed our dress and realized where we were headed. his head dropped a bit, and in little more than a whisper, he said, “alice in chains is over there, girls..” we didn’t even get the fake accent.

it just so happened that two of denver’s bigger downtown venues were situated next door to one another, and while one hosted “the nutcracker”, the other featured layne staley and the boys, and several hundred black-clad, cursing generation Xers, ready to rock. the show was amazing, as one might expect from alice in chains live. but my favorite part of the show came after. both events ended at the same time, and all exit doors emptied out into the same courtyard. the grunged-out rockers on their smoke breaks, the rock fans in their ripped jeans and big black boots were co-mingling (albeit not purposely) with well-dressed familes exiting in hurried droves, mothers clutching their sweet children in safety while dads kept watch with wary eyes at the counter-culture kids.

at that moment, i’ve never wanted to stay and people watch more in my life. i’m fairly certain the event planner in denver that year was reassigned to janitorial duty somewhere in commerce city. no such spectacle today, however. just 60 degree weather and the sounds of the spice girls filling horton plaza. i still didn’t come away with any brilliant revelations about ballet, however. or the spice girls, for that matter.