Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"When I Was Famous"
This past weekend I had the pleasure of a chance encounter that took me delightfully back to a time my oldest son refers to as "when you were famous." Just after watching my son perform with his choral reading group at the State Large Group Speech Contest in Decorah, I headed into a nearby ladies restroom. Immediately upon entering the door, I locked eyes with Gwen Silhacheck, a musician who - in addition to a vast number of other musical endeavors in life - was once the keyboardist for musical theatre productions performed by the Country Road Players. The year I was Nellie Forbush and her husband, Dan, was Emile deBeque in South Pacific, Gwen watched me kiss her husband several times a night. (I assure you, it was weirder for me than for her - nothing against you, Dan.)
This past Saturday, years dropped as we came to each other and embraced before exchanging news about each of our families. Yes, Dan was with her. No, they didn't have a child performing, but she had several students performing, and they came to show their support. Yes, they had been spending their day watching all of the entries in the musical theatre category. Yes, the Country Road Players still have productions occasionally, but not multiple times a year like they did when I was spending my summers with them in Spillville, Iowa. Yes, they would love a reunion too, and many have been talking about that. Would I be available to come reprise a show or scene? "You bet! When can I come?"
When I caught up with my boys, they knew by the light in my eyes I was feeling younger and more vital. Mark smiled at my renewed sense of drama for all of life as I shared the news of my encounter, and Stross smiled with recognition at Dan's role in South Pacific. "Oh, he knew you back when you were famous, Momma."
I absolutely love it when he does that for me. To Stross, I will always be a famous person who happened to become his mother. I desperately wish all moms could know what that feels like. It's such a paradoxical moment.
Stross references that time when I was young enough and unencumbered by relationships or jobs or plans as if fame was, of course, where I was headed in life. He's watched the shows - all my shows - first on aging videotape and then on DVDs (thank you, Mark!); and based on what he has seen, I was famous. So maybe I was.
And just so you know: Stross is famous too. I love that about him even more. Stross lives his life as one big adventure film with days full of things like ... well, today it's a curling contest at a pond sponsored by the college's paintball club. That event is today's featured attraction. I wish you could feel his excitement. It's truly palpable. And, basically, he will probably watch most of the action, vicariously living the thrills as he sees them.
If we (probably Mark) can figure out a way for him to actually be in the thick of things, we will. But discovering how that might be is an adventure in and of itself. Snow, cold, metal wheelchair, skinny tires, bulky clothing, large snow banks, ice. We'll see. If I ask Stross, he'll be sure there is a way. So there probably is. I'll try to remember to let you know.