rockettes

My Life as a Rockette

It feels like The Seven dwarfs attacked me with their mining equipment. My whole body ached and I have another performance in thirty minutes. Damn.

Yes, I was the fool who sued Radio City Music Hall for discrimination in Rockette hiring practices. I won. Now the whole process is completely open—gender, age, weight—irrelevant. You were judged by ability.

Somehow, at age 66, I made it through the auditions. But its one thing to gear yourself up for a minute of high kicks and quite another to be in shape for eight shows a week. I work out at the gym and Marion, my trainer, made a face when I told her I was auditioning for The Rockettes. “I bet they all have their periods at exactly the same time,” she said.

I admit I admired the sheer synchronicity of their dancing. God, it was intimidating that first month until I got the hang of it. Oswald, the choreographer, spent most of his time singling me out as a screw up. I imagine he couldn’t be happy having me and George, a 46 year old former UPS delivery guy, in the line up.

So here I am in the unisex dressing room, trying to don these black mesh stockings without ripping them for the umpteenth time. Then I have to fit into heels a size too small. My mascara starts running three minutes into each show. I hate the Vaseline we have to apply to our teeth to keep us smiling for an hour.

I’m on a ridiculous 1,600 calorie a day diet—always starving. I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to the blush.

Of course I get no sympathy from the girls, who see me as an embarrassing interloper.  “Stop whining and grow a pair,” Ann snarls.

I hate Sylvia, whose legs go on forever. Ellen keeps hugging and thanking me. Ellen is 4’11 and weighs about 210. Without my lawsuit she’d still be a cashier at Walgreens. I guess I did some good after all, giving people their dreams.

I stand and walk unsteadily to the mirror. I’d primp my hair except I’m almost completely bald. So I wear a piece. Sometimes it slides, but sweat does that. I simply make a quick adjustment between kicks.

I’m worried about George. He limps past in pain. His hamstring. Four kicks and it pulls on him. He’s talking about quitting. One thing about me—I am not a quitter. In six weeks we get a hiatus. I’m determined to make it that far and then maybe return to retirement. I’ve made my point and opened things up for everyone to perform on this great stage. That’s the American way.

Besides, I’m falling way behind on my Netflix shows.

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