It doesn't matter that I review books and theater for the Deseret News. When my wife asks me to accompany her to the ballet, I have the same expertise as the man on the street.

My wife and I went to "Carmina Burana" last week. And - as one outsider to another - it lived up to its billing: intriguing, sensual, primitive. But the ballet left me with a feeling that 75 percent of what was happening, was happening without me. I was along for the ride.Years ago, before his TV show, Andy Griffith was a stand-up comic. He always got big laughs by playing the naif - the rube - at his first concert, or first ice show, or football game. (You know, "and then this here other bunch of guys at the other end of the cow pasture, etc., etc.")

Well, Andy Griffith, meet Ballet West.

Actually, I do have a leg up (so to speak) on other novices. Years ago I dated a ballerina. I'd wait for her after each performance. She always had one thing or another taped up. She taped each individual toe, I remember.

My memory fuzzes, but I can recall a lot of Ace bandages, a faint smell of Ben Gay and a lot of perspiration.

It was a little like dating a linebacker.

But I didn't write this to trivalize ballerinas. True, the closest I've come to really appreciating them has been watching Griffith (that's Darrell, not Andy) do flying, 360-degree jams on the basketball court. And contrary to reports, I've never referred to them as "tippy-toe dancers."

It is impossible, I found, to attend a ballet and not be awed by their precision and delicacy.

It's not a coincidence that craftsmen choose ballerinas when they need exquisite, porcelain figures to adorn music boxes.

And unlike so many other artists, ballerinas have a talent for taking what could easily become lusty, sexual material and turning it into a lush, reverent sensuality.

Andy Griffith would say it's because they're rail thin and wear their hair like school-marms.

I thought about such things during "Carmina Burana." It occurred to me, in fact, that the most horrible, shocking moment in art had nothing to do with Robert Mapplethorpe and his homo-erotic photographs or the lewd verse of Allen Ginsberg.

No, the most horrible, shocking moment in art would be having to watch a prima ballerina fall in midflight and injure herself.

Luckily that didn't happen in "Carmina Burana."

Knock on wood.

Or, as we book and theater people say, break a leg.