The Mole

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When my mother-in-law was a young girl, a traveling ballet troupe came to her small town in Georgia. Sitting in the hard seats of the auditorium, she and her friends marveled at the grace and the beauty of the dancers. In Newnan, Georgia in the 1950s, a ballet dancer was as exotic as a gazelle or an elephant. The women moved like angels. The men, so strong and lithe, were a revelation.

In an especially moving pas de deux, a male dancer took a ballerina in his arms and lifted her right up off the floor and turned around, slowly, slowly. As he turned his back to the audience, a huge mole asserted itself through the seat of his white tights, straining against the stretchy fabric as if it wanted to get out and walk amongst the audience. The way my mother-in-law remembers it, it was about the size of a halved new potato. The little girls spent the rest of the performance watching for the mole to rotate back into view, and stifling their laughter when it did.

That was nearly sixty years ago. My mother-in-law still remembers that first ballet she ever saw. But mostly she remembers the mole. There’s more than one way to get exposed to culture.

Profile photo of Jonathan Rogers

Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy, one of the finest biographies of Flannery O’Connor we've ever read. His other books include the Wilderking Trilogy–The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking–as well as The World According to Narnia and a biography of Saint Patrick. He has spent most of his adult life in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his wife Lou Alice are raising a houseful of robustious children.


13 Comments

  1. Becca

    The best part of this is imagining the expressions on the faces of my Rabbit Room friends when they read this.

  2. April Pickle

    Now I’m wondering if Becca imagined my expression. Before I got to “new potato,” I pictured a dark-colored furry creature with a long nose and large feet stuck in a pair of tights.

  3. CyndaP

    I don’t know how I missed this when it was first posted, but it is hysterical! Living in Newnan, GA makes it especially funny!

  4. Jennifer B.

    I also missed this when it was first posted. I’m so glad I came upon Helena and Peter discussing this in the kitchen last weekend. I just now remembered to search for it. Too funny!

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