I could have been a famous child star, but my uncooperative parents refused to move to New York City where I’d surely get discovered. They would have made great stage parents.
I settled for wowing my neighbors with my impressive talents. Irritatingly, I had to include their kids before they’d sit and behold moi.
Kathy, Connie, David and I headed down Aunt Mary’s driveway, tossing around ideas of what to do. We meandered into the barn and climbed the steep stairs leading to the loft. It hadn’t held hay for a long time and was used for storage. An old spinning wheel sat in a corner, its usefulness long obsolete. Time to give it a new life.
“Let’s put on a play about Rumplestiltskin,” I suggested.
Luke-warm enthusiasm greeted my idea.
“We can get an audience and charge them money to see us,” I added.
“Who gets the money afterward?” asked Kathy.
“We all do,” I answered. “We can buy tons of penny candy and split it.”
Enthusiasm picked up.
To ensure a larger audience and more candy money, we created a zoo inside the garage. We set up Aunt Mary’s card-table and laid boards across empty buckets to hold display cases for our zoological specimens. An open shoe box displayed two butterflies scraped from the grill of Dad’s car. Their stilled wings rested on bird feathers, most of which I pulled from my old Indian head-dress. Glass mayonnaise jars with air-holes poked through the covers contained live insects such as grasshoppers, ladybugs, and one gigantic praying mantis.
Wolfy and Sparky, leashed to a cement block, refused to growl like the wild dogs they were billed as. They whined and poked their runny noses into our displays, so we ended up setting them loose. Aunt Mary’s Sandy Cat, stuffed inside a cardboard box, scratched and snarled like a baby orange lion. However, he wasn’t a willing zoo participant. I made a sign warning not to poke fingers in the peepholes; blood would be drawn.
David supplied the main attraction–almost all of a genuine shedded snake skin. Five cents was a cheap price to see such a hastily assembled collection of wonders.
All morning and early afternoon, we improvised and rehearsed our lines. Kathy played the king, and David the guard and preacher. I generously let Connie have the leading role of Rumplestiltskin, which left me playing the beautiful maiden and soon-to-be princess.
We designed costumes from bathrobes, old gowns, and play clothes. Crowns of aluminum foil-covered cardboard were ready to grace Kathy’s and my heads. The inspiration for our play, the antique spinning wheel, occupied center stage in the middle of Aunt Mary’s front lawn.
After touring our zoo (Mom refused to pay for baby Susan) our audience seated themselves on folding chairs arranged in a curved line. We thoughtfully let Aunt Mary watch for free since she was old and it was her lawn, garage, chairs, bathrobe, aluminum foil, and spinning wheel.
Our mothers, siblings, and a few neighbors clapped and cheered. I now suspect a portion of the clapping wasn’t as much for our farewell performance as it was the knowledge I would soon be relocated to a farm in another town.
Mrs. Kill didn’t realize I was like a boomerang (or maybe a bad penny) that keeps showing up.
Lesson learned: I should have worked harder at getting my parents to move to New York City while I was still cute, because a seven year ugly stick was poised to clobber me.
Related Posts: Pandemonium Trail/Basement Gorilla
Now it’s your turn: Were you in a neighborhood production?
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