It was a minor item, one I never thought about putting on the list until last Saturday. This is not the first time I’ve done this. I never knew I wanted to ride in a hot air balloon until I did it.
The concert was by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The full orchestra – nearly 80 people -- played selections by Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and other well-knowns. Nothing was deep or complicated. It was lovely, summery, familiar music. As the man in front of us pointed out, portions of most of the compositions were used in the sound tracks of Bugs Bunny cartoons.
The setting was special, too. The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is located on 65 acres of a peninsula that juts into Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. We carried folded-up canvas chairs, blankets and coolers packed with picnic food along a narrow gravel path that ended in a spacious grassy area between the back of the house and the lake. With a little imagination, it could have been the setting for one of Jay Gatsby’s parties. The night was warm and sticky at first, reminding me of summer evenings vacationing in northern Michigan when I was a child. But as soon as the sun dipped behind the slate roof and stone chimneys of the Cotswold-style mini mansion, a cool breeze had concert-goers reaching for sweaters. No mosquitoes or fishflies. No rain.
Our group arrived early and staked out our territory in the shade of a huge maple tree. We unfolded our chairs and hauled out the hors d’oeuvres. We sipped our drinks, ate sandwiches, passed cookies and fruit around and around, chatted about how good the weather was and how lucky we were to be there.
The orchestra was set up on the Ford House’s
lakeside terrace. Those who forked over a bigger chunk of change got to sit in rows of folding chairs, right in front. We were happy under our tree.
The setting was relaxed, casual. Guests showed up in everything from denim cutoffs and wife-beater T-shirts to flowered sundresses and wide-brimmed straw hats. Babies were wheeled around in luxurious Lexus-style strollers equipped with all comforts imaginable -- cup holders, canopies, storage units, changing tables, colorful mobiles. I wondered if some
of the perambulated tots might have hidden flat-screen TVs and minibars aboard as well.
Concession stands offered wine, beer and snacks.
More than a dozen bright blue portable toilets stood at the ready on a grassy area behind us, next to the lake shore. I hate those claustrophobic flushless
cells. The free-standing plastic structures wobble alarmingly when you close the door. The flimsy walls are so thin, I can monitor conversations of the people in line who are waiting for me to emerge. I feel like I’m going to the bathroom in the middle of a crowd of onlookers. Disconcerting, for sure.
The concert started promptly at 7:30 p.m.
Audience etiquette is relaxed in these outdoor
situations. It’s not necessary to sit still, hands in laps clutching programs. Clapping between symphonic movements isn’t as embarrassing as it is in Orchestra Hall. Whispering is OK. I heard an occasional forgotten cell phone jingle. Unwrapping crinkly hard candies was OK – not to mention un-burping Tupperware bins, un-zipping Zip-Lock bags and popping soft drink caps.
While the orchestra played, people mostly sat
still and enjoyed the music. But stretching out on a blanket was OK and children roamed in circular territories, watched by their parents. People strolled over to the bank of Porta-Johns whenever they wished. The concession stands were busy.
Eventually, even though I hoped to avoid it, I excused myself and moseyed toward the Port-a-John lineup.
And here’s where my Bucket List item was accomplished -– the item I never even knew I wanted to put on my list untl last Saturday at about 8:45 p.m.
I, Margie Reins Smith, peed while accompanied by a LIVE world-class orchestra.
Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien. It was wonderful.