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A Mother's Love of Theater
By Wendy Hopkins

Before I became a mother I loved to go to live performances -- rock concerts, stage plays, musicals, poetry slams -- okay, not poetry slams. But I do love the energy of live music, the "anything is possible" moment before the curtain rises on great theatre and the collective rush of the audience when they're experiencing great art. BUT, if I'm being totally honest, there is one other thing I love: the performers. Now I'm not a groupie, I don't love the performers in real life, it's just in my mind. I could call it a "stage crush" but that would just cheapen it -- it's more like a one-way relationship I have from my seat -- pathetic certainly, but not cheap.

It started in high school with Skip Prokop, the drummer of "Lighthouse," a once famous Canadian band that had sunk to playing high school dances to make ends meet. I didn't know that then, of course, so when I saw Skip with his long hair and his 1970s skinniness beating the drums like he was in love with them, I couldn't help but fantasize. I watched his face contort and his hands turn the drumsticks over, I watched his sticks tap the cymbals and imagined he would touch my tiny breasts in much the same way. Delicately, passionately. I imagined our lives together and how I'd hang around backstage with all the other "Lighthouse" wives.

Since then I've found at least one guy in every band, every Cirque du Soleil show, to fall in love with and imagine a life with. I've fallen for most of the members of Steve Earle's band, all of the Blue Men, Professor Henry Higgins, Tom Waits, all the male cast members of Stomp... I could go on but it would probably just get embarrassing or maybe it already has.

Anyway when I became a mother I all but stopped going to the theatre and live performances, "choosing" instead to have no social life outside of Gymboree. So you can imagine my surprise last weekend when I took my two-year-old son to the Universal Amphitheatre and ended up falling in love again. This time with one of The Wiggles.

I had seen The Wiggles on videotape about a million times and at first thought they were a bit weird. Why are four Australian guys -- grown men -- why are they children's performers? But after repeated airings I found myself singing the praises of Anthony, Greg, Murray, Jeff and Captain Feathersword.

In the moments before the show started, an overture tape of favorite Wiggles tunes had turned my son's excitement to tears twice so I was fully concentrated on my son's emotional state as the curtain rose. The Wiggles ran out and said, "Hello everybody, let's start the show with 'Rock-a-Bye Your Bear'."

My son and I sang along and did the actions. "Hands in the air, rock-a-bye your bear, bears now asleep shh shh shh."

After a few moments my son was happy again and I was free to peek at the stage and have a real look. When I did, I was immediately confused and ashamed by the feelings I had for Anthony. Surely I couldn't have a stage crush on a children's performer. I pushed away the thoughts of our sprawling ranch in Australia and, guilty now, concentrated on my son. This was his experience, not mine -- I'm a mother now I need to be more responsible, more selfless.

My son and I laughed together as Captain Feathersword was introduced and he tripped and fell all over the stage. It was easy not to have a stage crush on Captain Feathersword -- he's the comic relief and I've never gone for that.

But then the music for the animal song started and well, all I can tell you is it's my son's favorite song and knowing he'd be engaged, I guess I felt free to slip. And I'm sorry to say I did, slip. Back, back into my old habits.

"Kangaroo hops, hopping hopping"… I watched Anthony take huge leaps and watched his muscles bulging under his casual slacks.

I imagined him seeing me, the good parent, from the stage, singing with and engaging my son, and I imagined Anthony's life changing in that moment. I imagined him asking me out -- I'd be carrying my son back to the car and he'd find me in the crowd and I'd say something witty to relieve the tension of our obvious passions. And I imagined having Captain Feathersword and his wife over for dinner.

For two or three songs I was Mrs. Anthony Wiggle and I was living in Sydney and happily drinking a beer by the barby. Then a tapping, tapping, tapping pulled me from my imaginary life back into this one. Tap, tap, tap! Behind me a kid was keeping time on my chair back with her Dorothy the Dinosaur flashlight. Tap, tap tap! Her mother said she was sorry but the damage was done.

It was then I felt my son's weight in my lap, different, heavier, asleep. I looked around to see if anyone had noticed my son fall asleep while his mother fantasized about a Wiggle. It seems no one had.

After that, well, I considered leaving. I mean my son was asleep now, what was the point in staying? But I didn't know when I'd be feeling this live performance energy again. It was going to be a few months until Sesame Street Live and wouldn't they all be wearing big furry, unflattering character suits? I really didn't think I could slip that low -- Mrs. Snuffleupagus?

So, I adjusted my son into a more comfortable position and let myself slip back into my dream world to live out my days as Mrs. Wendy Wiggle. Or maybe I'd keep my last name. Probably.

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