These days, lot of people would rather have dogs than kids. 

Probably because you don’t have to go to dance recitals for dogs. 

My little niece Flambeau went to Tiffani’s Tap, Toe and Tumble Summer Day Camp, and every day she spent a couple hours stomping around to music, while her mama, my sister-in-law Gloriosa, got some peace. 

But now it’s payday. The Recital.

I think Gloriosa was counting on either a COVID wave or a hurricane scare bad enough to get it cancelled at the last minute. 

You never get bad luck when you need it. 

Anyway, the Gunches been to our fair share of dance recitals. We know the drill. Our advance squad gets there when the doors open, chooses arow of seats, sits fat, and occupies as many chairs as they can. The second squad comes a little later with the fried chicken. (This thing is going to take a good three hours and nobody wants to starve.)

I got volunteered by Gloriosa to help out backstage to keep the Talent under control. I am assigned to six-and-under, and  mostly I bribe  them with  gummy fruit-flavored snacks, which ain’t too messy.

I also apply Band-aids to any scratch or sore spot, real or invisible. I call them Emotional Support Band-aids.

And I got A LOT of special wipes to clean off the lipstick some kid inevitably gets hold of and smears on their chin and nose and somebody else’s forehead. 

But even with them tried-and-true solutions, things go wrong. Before the show, I have to lead everybody, in groups of five, to walk QUIETLY (in tap shoes) down the hall behind the stage to make wee-wee in the restroom. This means helping them wiggle out of their costumes, which include tights, and pulling them back on. Each one then washes their hands, checks if everybody else washes their hands, and tells on them if they don’t. 

If that ain’t enough drama, some fool left a huge potted cactus plant out in the hall by the restroom. Flambeau is intrigued. I tell her, “Now don’t touch it. It’s prickly.”

“What if I fall asleep and accidentally touch it?” she says. Then she closes her eyes and steps toward it like she’s sleepwalking. 

“IT WILL COME ALIVE AND EAT YOU!” I yell, loud enough for the entire audience to hear. So much for making them walk quietly in tap shoes. 

Now, Gloriosa herself took dance from Ms. Tiffani when she was little, and so did two of Flambeau’s little classmates’ mamas. So Ms. Tiffani asks them to be in a mother-daughter dance. Just stand behind the girls and do a simple shuffle to the tune of “Baby Face.”

Gloriosa is all excited about it until her costume arrives – in a plastic sandwich bag. The entire costume. A leotard with leg holes slit up to THERE and a neckline cut  wayyy low. If you pull it up, it shows too much backside and if you stretch it down, you ooze out on top.

She calls up the other two mommies, and they decide to ask Ms. Larda to make them old fashioned “tap panties” which are like shorts with ruffles, to wear over the leotards. 

So when it’s time for the mommy-daughter dance, three little girls in leotards plus sparkly tutus clomp out on the stage, and three mommies in tap pants scuttle directly behind them.

Ms. Tiffani, over on the side, calls “Five, six, seven eight!” just like they were real dancers, and most of them tap one toe or the other, and do various steps not exactly in synchrony, and finally tappity-tap off the stage. And that’s when Gloriosa’s tap panties decide to slither down, down, and off. Being a experienced performer, she knows to just step out of them and keep going. But before the curtain can drop, Flambeau scurries back out and retrieves them. Some people in the audience cheer and a few grandmas choke on their Popeyes and have to be hammered on the back. But they survive. 

It was a dance review worth remembering. Better than a hurricane.