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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Culture Comes in All Forms

When I was offered tickets to the season opener of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, I wasn’t convinced the Farmer would agree to be my date for the evening. But, as usual, he was willing to try something new. When I was freelancing for the newspaper, the poor guy found himself accompanying me to more than one event that he would never have considered attending on his own. I have dragged him to art vernissage, book launches, musical theatre and grand openings. He has made the most of every opportunity, sometimes suffering in silence, but often finding the experience surprisingly enjoyable.
I asked him to put on a suit. (That probably wasn’t absolutely necessary, but I don’t get to see him in one very often so it sure was a nice treat.) We ate a quick dinner, hopped in the car and made it into the city and down Elgin to the National Arts Centre by 7:40.
We held our collective breath as the top of the F150 scraped its way into the parking garage.
Once inside, I noticed that the audience members still milling about the lobby were predominantly elderly and female. I bought the Farmer a beer and wished I had ordered one myself when I saw how small my wineglass was. That was a quick fifteen dollars spent.
About five minutes before we were called to our seats, I decided to find the ladies room. I was washing my hands when I noticed a woman in the mirror glancing at the back of me with a strange look on her face. It wasn’t until I turned to go that my reflection caught my eye. My skirt was tucked up into my underwear. That woman was going to let me go back out there exposed! What was her excuse? Why didn’t she tell me? Did she not speak English?? I’m pretty sure she could have given me that particular message without words.
Once we found our seats, I crammed my long-legged Farmer into a seat in the centre of the mezzanine. The musicians quickly took their seats. The master violinist hit the stage, and everyone suddenly jumped to their feet to clap.
“Who’s that?” the Farmer asked.
“I think he helps everyone to tune up.”
“Humph.”
Just then the conductor stepped onto the stage. The clapping amplified.
“Hmmm,” the Farmer commented.
As the music began and swelled into Lohengrin, I stole the occasional sideways glance at my date. He seemed to be very focused on the stage.
At Intermission, we got up to stretch our legs.
“You seemed to enjoy that,” I remarked. He responded that the blonde girl in the front of the violin section was “absolutely stunning”. She wasn’t that great. Her nose was completely out of proportion with the rest of her face.
I found the second portion of the performance a bit harder to endure, and although I found the music very enjoyable and the performers extremely talented, my mind began to drift. I think the Farmer was getting restless too, because his leg started to jiggle.
The music changed as the violinists plucked at their strings. The Farmer looked at me and smirked.
“Do you know this piece?” I queried.
“Sure. It’s Bugs Bunny tiptoeing down the stairs,” he grinned. Well yes, it was.
The next day, it was the Farmer’s turn to choose our cultural outing. He took me to the farm auction at Tackaberry’s on Highway 43. Of course.
A line of pickup trucks a mile long stretched down the highway outside the entrance. A police car blocked the gate. We parked, slipped on our rubber boots and climbed the fence to the muddy field.
Wow. Hundreds of farmers from all over Eastern Ontario and Quebec had converged on the site to bid themselves a deal. The field was lined with everything from rusty antique farm implements to shiny new combines. Trucks, trailers, church pews and a camper shaped like a shoe lined the back fence. As I scanned the crowd gathering around the auctioneer’s truck, I suddenly caught the eye of someone I knew. I raised my hand to wave, just as the auctioneer spotted me. “18,000!” He called. The Farmer whipped around and looked down at me. “Did you just buy a truck?!” He asked. The bidding continued. I was out of the deal. I jammed my hands in my pockets. My nose began to itch but I dared not scratch it.
I decided that watching the crowd was more interesting than watching the auction. But as I made eye contact with one farmer after another, I realized that some of these men might be shopping for more than just a tractor. Was a farm auction a good place to find a farm wife? Perhaps. I took a step closer to the Farmer, and he put his arm around me protectively. Or to discourage me from bidding.
The symphony and the farm show in one week. How will we top that?

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