Dinner and a Show; Druids

After careful review by Aug, who said I was much too mean, this is the edited version.

My son August is 12 and in 7th grade. Every year his school has a fund raiser. For $8 a head they offer a pasta dinner and then the kids perform a series of skits. There are also various tables hawking crafts, with proceeds going to the various “family groups” for their upcoming spring activities. The family group is the home base for the kids. It’s like home room – the first station of required attendance in public schools in the States, after which point the kids go to different rooms at different, scheduled times to complete their institutional learning behavior – but with a stronger connection. The family group plans activities and does things together. Home room (for me, back in the day) was just a place to lie about where I was yesterday and score a quick jay for lunch. Oh that 80’s lingo!

I had just given Aug a mobile phone, in the nick of time it seems. He called before his last class period to tell me that he was heading to the auditorium after school and would meet me there for dinner. His group was going to go through their play one more time. Sounded fine. I trust him. The dinner was a “zero garbage” event. Families were told to BYOS, bring your own service, which I guess meant plates and forks and cups. I headed home, packed a cloth sack with two plates, two forks, two knives, two spoons, and two cups, and walked to the high school. Aug doesn’t go to the high school, but that is where the supper and performance were.

I met him at the auditorium as his rehearsal ended and he and I headed to the cafeteria. I saw a few parents I knew and said hi, but mostly Aug and I grabbed dinner and ate by ourselves. He was too excited to eat, but I made him eat some garlic bread and shovel a few fork-fulls of pasta down his throat. Then he headed back to the auditorium for make-up. Oh brother. But the joy and anticipation in his face was priceless. “Dad, I can’t just sit here with you, I have to get into make-up!” Priceless. So he split and I hung out. I only know two or three other parents well, so mostly I just nodded to recognizable strangers.

Last year the show was held in a smaller auditorium at the high school and it was packed. This year the group used the main auditorium, Kulp Auditorium, and didn’t need to. The show was wildly unattended. I sat and waited.

There were four skits and Aug’s was the third. He played Gary in “A Murder Most Foul”. The gist of the skit was a group of performers practicing a murder mystery play. The comedy was both the play within the play and the purposeful ineptitude of the performers. Gary was the corpse. The character’s role was simply to remain motionless for the entire performance, which of course he couldn’t. Aug has several comedy bits that he pulled off well. While he was far from the lead, he had a substantial part with several lines and fairly intricate timing. But at the climax, when Aug jumped up and announced that Gary had been faking his death to incriminate his staff of servants who all thought they killed him, Aug forgot his lines.

“Oh no,” he said, breaking character, “I forgot my line.” I froze in my seat. How was he going to handle this? Aug is sensitive and anxious and intense situations are often too much for him and he responds by crying. He’s like his old man. I remember the last time I cried in school. I was in 7th grade in an art class. Wow, I hadn’t thought of that last night. It just came to me now, as I was typing. I should write about that, but I don’t want to derail this post. I watched. Aug said, “What is wrong with me? I thought I knew my lines!” He was approaching panic stage. I wondered if he was going to emotionally melt down on stage. Silence descended like the angel of death.

His co-actor saved the day. She had a copy of the script on a clip board, using it as a prop in the play within a play and as a fail safe. She said, “Gary, that’s not in the script. See.” and walked over and showed the script to Aug. Aug looked at the clip board, read and then remembered his line, and then launched back into his performance, finishing the show as strong as when he started. Whew. The skit closed and the fourth and final skit started. I wondered what was happening back stage. Was he cool? Was he a wreck? I waited through the final skit, which was funny but went on too long, until the final curtain call.

All the kids came out and bowed, and there came Aug, glowing. Pleased as punch. His cheeks red, his eyes bright, walking proud. He linked hands for the chorus-line bow, watched the other kids for his cue, and then bowed en masse with his fellow thespians. I am proud of him. I told him how proud of him I was. He admitted to forgetting his line but didn’t seem hung up on it. Mostly he talked about how much fun it all was. We walked home, the high school being conveniently close to the apartment, and had milk and cookies. Then he did an hour of homework while I read and off to bed.

He’s a good boy and I’m a proud poppa.

Charles Squire’s Celtic Myth and Legend: Revised Edition is good but it is not what I want to read. It focuses almost entirely on Irish myths and legends, especially the group of stories called the Mythological Cycle, the highlights of the Ulster and Fenian Cycles, and avoids the Historical Cycle. I love Irish mythology. I love Ireland. But I don’t want to use Irish ideas of druids or pagan gods for my revision of House Diedne. I want Celtic druids, and Celtic does not necessarily mean Irish, not in a classical sense. Yes, Ireland is one of the so-called six Celtic Nations, along with Scotland, Brittany, Wales, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man, but that is a complicated modern convention. I want classical Celts. Vercingetorix, not Cú Chulainn. Getafix, not Cathbad. Luckily, my bookshelves holds several appropriate texts, and while I can’t remember them by name – Jean Markale’s The Celts: Uncovering the Mythic and Historic Origins of Western Culture comes to mind – but I know I have some. I’ll have to get back to you with titles.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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