“A fur shop?”

“We also need to get tickets to the ballet.”

“The ballet?”

“Of course! We are in Russia. We
must see a ballet. They are showing Swan Lake at the Hermitage. And, we’re in luck because Anastasia will be performing tomorrow.”

Tricked!” I thought.

The tour guide attempted to throw cold water on the ballet idea with simple logic: “tickets are not available”. Although I was less than completely devastated by the news, Nazy was not dismayed. She simply walked to the box office and purchased two tickets. Our friends were impressed with her achievement. Peter and Ellen even emulated Nazy’s approach.

“It’s a long ballet, Dan.” Peter informed me.

“Yes, I know.”

“If I were you, I’d have dinner before the show.”

“Before the show? That’s quite early..”

“Well, I don’t know about you, Dan. But if I eat before a ballet, I can fall asleep during the dance.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry, Peter.” I replied. “I can fall asleep in a ballet even without dinner.”

As luck would have it, my clever negotiations left us with shopping time. Nazy informed me that anyone visiting Russia had to..

“… explore a fur shop, Dan.”

“I don’t believe that’s a rule, Nazy.”

“You need a Russian Fur hat, Dan.”

“I don’t think so, Nazy. I will look silly in a Russian hat.” I stood my ground for a while. (Perhaps we can agree that I do look silly.)

Dan in fur hat

The ballet took place in the private theatre of Catherine the Great. This cozy venue, an annex of the Hermitage, seats 170 people. We had great seats, very close to the stage. (We passed through a display of nurse’s uniforms from the 1905 Russian-Japan war before entering the theatre. They really like museums.)

I am not an expert on ballet. In fact, without a synopsis, there is
little, eh, no chance that I would detect a story line by watching a bunch of bouncing dancers. Luckily, I know the story of Swan Lake. Nazy not only knew the story, she knew something about ballet. She was mesmerized.

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Beautiful? Yes. But, you know, Nazy, I’m a plot kind of guy.”

“Plot? I think you’re more the plodding kind of guy.”

“And this plot is moving slowly.” [I’ve always found it difficult to concentrate on the story in a ballet. Just when you’re about to see some semblance of meaning, a dance sequence ends and lead dancers take a bow. It’s like doing a curtain call after every punch line in a comedy performance.]

“Did you see how long she remained ‘en point’?” Nazy liked Act I.

Actually, my dear,” I thought. “I didn’t see the point.” “Yes, it was lovely.” (I said.)

We met Peter and Ellen after the ballet. Peter asked for my opinion.

“I thought that the performance was very topical.”

“Topical? What do you mean?”

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