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Sunday, March 25, 2012

"What is it that we're living for?"

I was told recently that I say too much and it isn't interesting. Well, okay, maybe it's not, not everyone is interested in what I say, just like I'm not interested in everything someone says to me. The point was, I should just say whatever I feel compelled to say in six words or less, thus leaving room for the person I'm telling to story to room to drone on and on and on about the entire list of every single person that has said "hello" to him (or her) in a particular two hour period, what subway station they were standing in when someone said "hello" to them, the tone of the speakers voice, their sex, how wide their smile was and did the person who said "hello" acknowledge the people the person telling the infinite loop of a story to me was with.

So. that being said, don't start me on Dick Cheney's heart transplant.  I'm kind of surprised that the story is about his new heart though. I would think that the medical miracle of someone surviving 71 years without a heart would be the bigger headline.  Moving on...

It's two weeks to Easter and I should be spring cleaning. Instead I'm spending a rather cold and soon to be rainy week-end driving to school plays.  Interesting thing, that - I don't have kids in any of the schools on the agenda, I never had kids in them, so it's not an alumni solidarity thing.  

Last night we were at a production of "The Wizard of Oz" which was put on by a parochial school's Drama Club. My older son is on their play staff though, so there WAS a connection. My LORD...we were treated like royalty. My older son and I were given tickets, gratis, and sat in reserved seats in the third row. I was initially annoyed because no one in the audience would shut up once the show started, and it was a charming, and in may ways innovative show.

But I realized, about the time Dorothy wandered into Munchkin land, that this  was a SCHOOL production. The auditorium was filled with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and cousins, each and every one of whom was more excited to see their loved one on that stage than the performer themselves was to BE on the stage. We clapped in time to "We're Off To See The Wizard," I stopped glaring at people with flash cameras and tuned out the families whispering to one another about their kid up there on the stage.

I thought back to those times I saw my own kids up there on the stage of a school auditorium and how I felt - much like that scene at the end of "The Music Man" where a bedraggled Prof. Hill finally conducts the worst version of "The Minuet In G" known to man and a parent jumps up and yells "THAT'S MY BOY!" It was kind of odd be have no dog in this fight but it was also really cool listening to those who did. My own connection was unseen, calling light and sound cues in the back and, I've got to say, it was really an eye opener for me to see him before the show, outside (looking for us, btw) dressed in black with a headset on, talking to three people at once and being, for all intents and purposes, a professional - and a man, not my kid. That's one big WOW, I've got to say.

The kids were marvelous. I enjoyed watching them surreptitiously kicking an extra ruby slipper off stage, passing it from one one foot to another until they got it to Glinda, who stepped forward slightly and covered the wayward shoe with her voluminous skirt and sending it to sights unseen with a mighty kick. The Wicked Witch's broom broke in two, she nonchalantly picket up both pieces and carried them with her until she melted most convincingly.   Dorothy asked for, and received the broom from the flying monkey who handed it to her with the line "of course you can have it. Here, take both pieces."

And, as Dorothy clicked her heels for the third time, the sound of a familiar ukelele riff started through the speakers, the characters on stage stood quietly while the Wizard came forward and starting singing "Over The Rainbow" to the chart that because so popular a few years ago - the Hawaiian one. And the entire cast silent, in small groups, came from all over the audience to join him on the stage and then joined in the song and we all picked up the rhythm and clapped along  and, for a crowd that was about 50% white we didn't do bad either. They came up with an end to get Dorothy back to Kansas without any pyrotechnics and give the Wizard a song of his own and it was innovative, sincere and absolutely delightful.

My son (among others) was called up on stage for recognition, thanks and the presentation of mementos. They call him the "gentle giant" (he's 6'9") and in all the crowd on the stage he managed to get the microphone to himself in order to thank his crew by name. I couldn't have been prouder and I momentarily wondered who in the hell had raised him to be so amazing. I decided there's a lot more luck than skill involved in raising kids.

So this afternoon we head out to the West Valley again, a high school out there is doing "Fiddler On the Roof." My son knows some kids in the cast, he works with them in a summer program. This is the same school that did such a bang up job on "Barnum!" last year and I expect this to be just as good.

Yesterday we noticed that the private high school down the street was doing "The Drowsy Chaperone" this week-end and we tried to get tickets for their last show tonight but, alas for us and good for them, it's sold out.  We don't know ANYBODY at that school, even peripherally.  We just thought it would be cool to go.

What a joy it is to see the arts still in some schools. School is a miserable experience, I never really understood reunions, who want's to relive THAT (and yes, I go to mine, God knows why I hope because I sure don't).  But put a kid in a plastic hat and stand him on a stage and he comes to life. I don't believe only nice kids join the drama club, I truly believe that the drama club (and the choirs and the art and pottery classes and the band and the orchestra and all the rest) MAKE them nice kids. it gives them focus and accomplishment and, damn it, we ALL need someone out there cheering for us. 

When it comes right down to it, we don't need Prozac. What we really need, is applause.

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