Q. When did you know you were a Black Swan?
A. What do you mean? I haven’t noticed any feathers poking out of my skin or anything. Do you see something on my back? Pluck it, pluck it!
Q. I mean when did you notice you were different from the other little girls?
A. You’re right, I first noticed I didn’t fit some expectation of girliness in my first ballet class. I was probably in Kindergarten, and my mom hauled me to bi-weekly classes. I remember the wood floors, a steaming hot water fountain and a waiting room that had the first two-way mirror I had ever seen which the parents used to spy on us. I guess they weren’t really spying, because we knew about it. It was magical. I’ve wanted one ever since.
A. That’s not a question. Hey, am I in therapy right now?
Q. No. But whoa there, I’m asking the questions here.
A. That’s a handy little trick of mine.
Q. Whatever. You bring up therapy and two-way mirrors. Do you think you might have been in therapy as a child when you thought you were in ballet class?
A. No, I was in ballet class, Black Swan tights and all, because I refused pink.
Q. That’s a Black Swan red flag right there.
A. Going to ballet was miserable because of that outfit, and because the music annoyed me but I got in trouble if I sang songs with self-made lyrics. Once as an adult I went to the ballet to see La Bayadere. In Act 3 the orchestra started playing this piece that tore open an old tunnel in my brain, and I was immediately and unceremoniously time-travel plopped back into the naughty stool in the corner of Miss Greta’s ballet room. The stool is where I had to sit because I sang “and applesauce, and applesauce, and apple apple applesauce” to the haunting Minkus she played. And played again. And again. And again. And ripping the needle across the record
slowly lowering the arm to the vinyl
Q. So is that when you noticed you were different from the White Swan type of girls, in that ballet class?
A. They actually liked ballet. They spun in front of the mirrors and kept asking when would they get tutus. I spent my time sliding into the phonograph on the floor as if it were first base and trying to lift the White Swan girls off the ground.
Q. You liked lifting your peers?
A. That’s the only part of ballet I did like. But some of their parents were concerned when they saw that game through the mirror and complained. So I’d say all in all, that was a sign. The first sign that I was going to bump into some restrictive gender expectations that didn’t fit me at all, and that I would be getting in trouble for picking up girls.
Q. I see what you mean.
A. That’s what I’m saying.
Q. Were you rewarded for being an early-identified Black Swan?
A. No, mostly I was put in the back row. I didn’t care that other girls were front row stars, hull down is fine for a Black Swan. But it’s boring. So I was expelled my first year for Conduct Unbecoming of a Bumblebee because I improvised a jazz hand move during our “Flight of the Young Bumblebee Ballerinas” recital. I thought the piece needed a more resonant ending. According to Miss Greta, I thought wrong.
Q. It wasn’t meant to be.
A. My brilliant career as a ballerina? Uh, no. My poor mother.
Q. If you think about it, it’s amazing they even tried. I mean everyone must have noticed you were a little thick and loud and boyish.
Q. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Q. Too bad, though, because now we find out that Swans can be bisexual and all.
A. I don’t think anyone sticks with ballet for the potential of girl-on-girl sex in 17 years, because that’s what softball is for. But I agree that the Kunislingus scene in Black Swan raised the level of contemporary appreciation for the art of ballet. Best pas de deux I’ve seen in a long time.
Q. So are all Black Swans bisexual, are all bisexuals Black Swans, why is it bisexuals can almost never call themselves lesbians even if they are monogamous with a woman for decades, or all of the above?
A. This is the worst SAT prep class ever.
Q. Will Natalie Portman win the Golden Globe award for portraying Nina the Tortured White Swan?
A. No, but Black Swan Mila Kunis will win because her role was more challenging. After all, anyone can throw back her head when someone goes down on her, but the real art is in the giving.
Q. Exit stage left.
A. *jazz hands*