Don Quixote is a delight; Mommies who drink; I want a house like she's got

And yet how lovely life would seem if every man could weave a dream to keep him from despair...

Went to the ballet the other night and had a ball. I expected the Royal New Zealand Ballet's production of Don Quixote to be a bit grim, you see--grey backdrops and thunderstorms and sad old Don Q madly tumbling about the stage--and I felt as we parked the car and ran into the Aotea Centre, late again, that I was preparing to take a draught of medicine.

But instead I laughed my butt off. Don Q, as portrayed by Sir Jon Trimmer, is a sweet fantasist, a man who carries a book of adventures under his arm and rides a mop, imagining himself on a horse. He is irresistible, the romantic leads are lovely to watch, and the "bad girl", Abigail Boyle, a riveting spectacle, all naughty sidelong glances and flirtatious flourishes.

Gorgeous all, but my favourite aspect of the production was the stagecraft--the backdrops evoked a sun-soaked plaza in Barcelona, a shambolic book-filled bedroom and a starry field overseen by an enormous glowing moon. A pimp-like character called Gamache strutted around in a green suit, with giant bling-y belt and necklace and an ingeniously crafted fluffy white dog. A Hitler-esque waiter evoked Manuel from Fawlty Towers as he whirled ineffectually from one end of the stage to the other. And Don Q won a rubber-knife fight.

I confess I never finished Cervantes' novel, but I can't imagine it is much like the cheering performance I saw last week, which seems rather a pity.

***

I am having a baby next year and my preparation has been patchy--I have a thick book on what to expect each week (this week's highlight--back pain and leg cramps!) which scares me so much I have stopped reading ahead. I have a nice and highly practical doctor who soothes me with a scan every time I cross her threshold (still moving, phew!). And I went to the Parent and Child Show, which overwhelmed and horrified me--luckily I was with a mummy friend who told me all the baby gear I didn't need, which was comforting.

I failed to get into the antenatal classes I wanted and all I have bought for the baby is two bibs. Basically, I feel like a big fake, so I was delighted to come across Mommies Who Drink by Brett Paesel, another big fake who is successfully rearing two boys. Her coping strategy is to meet up with other mums at a bar every Friday. As they knock back cocktails and glasses of house white they take turns solving each other's problems. Sounds like my kind of coffee group.

***

Just moved house and am living in cardboard box hell, although it could be worse--we could still be living in our apartment trying to figure out what corner of our bedroom the baby would occupy, and where that would leave the dog. I am loving the house so far, but it doesn't compare to the coolest cinema house I've seen in a long time, and the only really good thing about Nights in Rodanthe, a Richard Gere/Diane Lane film that made me snort with derision for two hours and then bawl inexplicably at the end. The sprawling wooden pole house, on a beach in North Carolina, is a beauty, though.

Comments (5)

by Kate Hannah on December 09, 2008
Kate Hannah

ah Eleanor - unfortunately the inexplicable bawling is connected to the moms who drink - some horrible hormonal reaction that makes media-savvy skeptics like you and me end up weeping at toilet paper ads . . . and there are plenty of mums in NZ who can see through the what to expect when you're expecting hype - my favourite always was the chirpy chapter on drug use!  

 

by Eleanor Black on December 10, 2008
Eleanor Black

Crud, Kate, does that mean I can expect more crying outbursts at really bad films?

by Kate Hannah on December 10, 2008
Kate Hannah

unfortunately that's exactly what it means. even when you know that the work has designs on you, you can no longer fight them! it's the best kept secret of motherhood - that sentimentality suddenly becomes "beautiful." only bonus is that it often works on dads too, so you get to weep together at schmaltz. it's even worse if you've had a glass of wine . . .

by Kate McKinley on February 09, 2009
Kate McKinley

I think ol' Don Q has been given a bad rep by being required reading for many a lit degree. Even if you suddenly realize halfway through that he's a metaphor of noncomformity, it's still funny and poignant as long as no one has tried to shoehorn it up your nose.

My experience with pregnancy consists of watching others in my Catholic family follow the proscribed route, then helping to diaper and placate (and, when unobserved, teach obscenities to) the result. It looks to me like you have a pretty healthy attitude on the future, as opposed to that sold by the nappy ads. Call me if your kid needs a Weirdo Aunt!

by Eleanor Black on February 12, 2009
Eleanor Black

Hi Ms McKinley,

Nice to have you on the site! Weirdo aunts are always useful!

E

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