Topic: "Tovarich" (4)
When first the Kennedy Center opened for business, Frodo and Sam bought tickets; the year was 1975. They saw Yul Brynner, James Earl Jones, Kevin Conway, Robert Horton, Rita Moreno, Cleavon Little, and, of course, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. James Earl Jones starred in "Of Mice and Men," and Frodo will never forget the dozen or so "special people" who were uncharacteristically seated after the lights had gone down and the actors appeared on stage. Some very special person had figured out that watching James Earl Jones play the part which he did would be very, very special for some special people. Frodo and Sam cried together watching them watch, and listen, to a giant of a man, who sounded just like them, so very special.
The next year was 1976, and everything at the Kennedy Center was programmed to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Republic. Frankly, dear reader, in Frodo's opinion, the whole program sucked. Frodo and Sam did not re-new their subscription, and they moved on to other forms of entertainment.
The story this night is of the Hobbit who found a special appreciation for ballet. Long before the night with Fonteyn and Nureyev, Frodo was offered a choice by Rachel A. Ames, High-School English Teacher Extraordinaire. He could write a 50-page paper on the "American Civilization," or he could attend the performance entitled "Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet," appearing at the Uline Arena in Washington, D.C. The tickets were cheap, in those days, since Russians were not exactly looked upon favorably, and Frodo figured that two or three hours napping while a bunch of "June Taylor Dancers" made sugar-plums on stage was far better than nights of pounding on the Selectric.
Frodo will never forget noticing the knots of muscle on the calves of the men. Then, when these characters went air-borne, three or more feet straight up into space, Frodo's mouth fell open, and he put aside all thoughts beyond pure admiration. Following that, these incredibly gorgeous, and lithe, women came flying into the arms of the athletes already on-stage, and they never once broke into anything resembling perspiration. It was a life-changing moment for Frodo, which he has considered, in many respects, whenever tempted to demean persons of whom he has no knowledge, much less introduction.
It was unsurprising that Frodo's palms were wet, and that even the prima ballerina by his side was an object of lesser attention when Nureyev and Fonteyn came on stage. Fonteyn was in her 50's, and was far beyond her prime. Although Frodo does not know for sure, it is possible that he and Sam saw her in one of her last performances on stage. Nureyev looked as if he had just come from a photo shoot for GQ. In Frodo's time on our small blue planet, he can safely say that Presley and Banderas are the only males who were ever more physically appealing than was the Russian on that night . When the dancers were done, Frodo stood, and cheered, and applauded, and did so until no one else was left in the auditorium.
Being among the last to leave, Frodo and Sam sat at the end of the traffic line, and their eyes sparkled for each other, and for the beauty and grace of that night, Then, on Sam's side of the car, Frodo saw him, walking from the Kennedy Center, to the Watergate, dressed in a leather suit, brown it was, and wearing a beret. Nureyev, all alone, it was. Frodo shook Sam and they stared at the maestro as his eyes caught theirs. Frodo, not knowing what else to do or say, simply screamed "Tovarich, Dwo Svedanya." Nureyev smiled, and did a full-arm wave to his American fans, and repeated the words to Frodo.
Frodo had heard Charles Bronson use the same phrase in "The Great Escape." Frodo has had an affection for the best vodka, and lime juice, ever since.