|"What's that smell," my niece asked?
"That's nature goodness," my mom replied.
My friend and I looked at each other with eyes watering and noses tingling from the aromatic smells that had drifted over to us from the horse barn as we waited for the play to begin. It was my idea to go see Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream presented by the local theatre troupe at a new outdoor location. After all, no one in the family had ever seen anything by Shakespeare, and since it was my niece's birthday, we thought it would be both cultural and entertaining at the same time. That's when the trouble started.
The evening started out innocently enough, albeit a little warm. The location was a beautiful farm nestled in a valley about fifteen miles from town. The ranch specialized in outdoor religion, retreats, receptions, and the rehabilitation of abused farm animals, namely horses. They had a large pond that was really low due to the severe drought over the last few years. And they had a large covered open-aired structure that contained the stage and seating area. Located outside the structure were several tables, hay bales, and log stumps that the audience (mainly smokers) could utilize if they so desired.
We began the walk down the hill from the parking area, stopping occasionally to admire the view of fenced pastures, and cows and horses grazing peacefully together in this tranquil setting. We walked over to the table to pick up our playbills and funeral fans, and the lady at the table said, "Watch that spot over there, a couple of horses got out a while go and left their marks." Too late, mom had just set her foot down. As we began to giggle and laugh in unison, mom threw us a look of indifference, shrugged her shoulders, and trudged ahead. That's what moms do. They don’t get upset about stepping in horse manure because @#X* happens.
I was checking out the seating arrangements and was not happy with what I found. I had hoped for bench seating or folding chairs but ended up with plastic patio chairs, the small ones. I glanced around the barn and other largely built folks were having the same problem: Figuring which chair to sit in. My niece, who is extremely small, sat down and squirmed in one of these plastic contraptions and said they were extremely uncomfortable and seemed a little flimsy. I finally settled on a seat near the back row and adjusted my backside to fit in the chair. It was a tight squeeze, thanks goodness I had remembered the duct tape, so I could tape myself in. I sat patiently with my friend, enjoying the smells from the barn, I watched the horses play a game of tag in the pasture, I watched my niece check out the boys, and my mom glance at the bottom of her shoe, and waited for the play to begin.
The comedy was somewhere between Lysander and Demetrius pining over Hermia and Bottom wearing something on his head when I heard a crack and felt something give. It was my chair. I tried to glance behind me to see what it was when I looked at my friend who mouthed the words, “Don’t move.” She looked closer and said that the leg looked cracked and was bent backwards. “Lean up and to the left,” she said.
For the next hour I perched precariously on three legs, I didn’t move. I couldn’t swat at the flies and mosquitoes that were buzzing the toes in my sandaled feet. I had to stifle a gag and a cough when the wind changed directions and brought all of the bovine, equine, and natural goodness smells from the barn straight into Act II Scene I. Bullfrogs were croaking in the pond. My back was beginning to hurt from sitting so uncomfortably. I glanced over at my friend and my mom, and they were both laughing hysterically, at me. Tears were streaming down their faces, but they couldn’t make a sound, or they would interrupt the play. As the dawn turned to darkness, the lights finally dimmed, it was intermission, finally. I was helped out of the chair and began to investigate what had happened. The back leg had slipped off an edge of a small imperfection in the floor and had buckled under me.
I began to walk away from everyone who was now laughing loudly at me. I didn’t care, I was just glad that the chair hadn’t broken during the play. I was heading over to the refreshment area when I heard a lady shout, “Watch it.” Too late, my foot hit the pile of manure and down I went.
My choices were few. There were no restrooms, only port-a-pots. Several nice ladies brought me some paper towels and I cleaned up as best I could. It was time for the last part of the play to begin, and my niece asked, “Do we have to leave? I’d like to see the rest of the play.”
“I’ll just sit back here for the rest of the night,” I said.
My mom just looked at me and gave me a nod. She understood. You can’t get upset about it. It happens. That’s what aunts do.