godspell, again, still, more – part two

Learnin’ every line and every last commandment
May not help you but it couldn’t hurt
First ya gotta read ’em then ya gotta heed ’em
Ya never know when you’re gonna need ’em
Just as old Elijah said to Jezebel
You better start to learn your lessons well

Lyrics, Learn Your Lessons Well, Godspell

As soon as we got to the theater, it was clear that something was up. The lobby, already too narrow to contain the milling crowd, was full of tables offering up items for auction and information about some organization. I had the vague notion that there must be a charity event coinciding with the performance, but my attention was laser focused on helping Brooke to navigate the chaos, find the loo, grab the brownie that she’d seen at the concession on the way in. and find our seats. I had no time to worry about piecing together what was happening around us.

When we finally reached our seats, (after a false start at a wrong entry that pushed Brooke to the edge), she immediately set to work with her program, memorizing the names of the actors and matching them up with their respective parts. I settled in next to her, exhaling for the first time in an hour.

I glanced over her shoulder at the program, confused by the size of the cast list. Typically, there are eleven roles in Godspell played by ten actors (in a somewhat confusing twist, John the Baptist becomes Judas.) But there were fifty-seven names in the cast. FIFTY-SEVEN. I didn’t have the bandwidth to try to figure out why.

A man sat down in the single seat to Brooke’s left. She turned to him and asked, “Who are you?” He smiled warmly and offered her his hand. “I’m Arthur,” he said. She took his hand and gave him her name in return.

“Now you’re not sitting next to someone you don’t know,” I said. She gave an exaggerated nod, then turned back to her program. A few minutes later, she pointed at a series of photos on the page in front of her and then turned back to Arthur. “Is this you?” she asked.

I laughed, knowing that it couldn’t be him and waiting for the awkward moment that would follow.

He chuckled. “That is me,” he said. “You found me out.”

I looked over Brooke’s shoulder again, incredulous. What the? How the? Huh?

Brooke’s program was open to a full-page ad for a hair salon in town. His hair salon. And there he was, smiling up from the page. Arthur.

Lesson number one.

Trust her.

An older couple came in with the usher and sat to our right. The gentleman took the seat closest to mine. Thirty seconds after he’d sat down, he turned to me as if we were seated at dinner together on a cruise. “So where are you from?” he asked.

I told him where we live.

“My wife is buried there,” he said.

I caught my breath.

“At the cemetery on the hill?” I asked.

He nodded.

“It’s beautiful there,” I said.

“It really is,” he said.

“I’m so sorry that you lost her,” I said. He nodded.

“Is that your husband over there?” he asked, motioning toward Arthur with his chin.

“No,” I said, trying to suppress an inappropriate chuckle, “my husband is at home with my other daughter.”

“Well, let me tall you something,” he said, leaning in toward my chair. “Whatever you want to do with him –  your husband – just do it. Don’t wait.”

He proceeded to tell me the story of his wife’s passing. How she had gone to the doctor on a Tuesday, had a clean bill of health by Saturday, and passed away in her sleep on Sunday.

“So don’t wait,” he said again.

I fumbled over my words. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I can’t imagine.”

He smiled a long, slow, patient smile. One in no hurry to start nor end. “I’ll tell you something though,” he said. “You see this lady to my right?”

I told him that I did.

“I met her in the second grade,” he said. “I was held back that year, but she moved on to third grade. Anyway, I chased her all through grammar school. Even into middle school. I’d pick dandelions and leave them in her yard. But I never did summon the courage to ask her out. Not once.”

He smiled at his own folly, then stopped.

“Well, I was very depressed after my wife died. I spent a lot of time .. ” his voice trailed off and let the silence finish the sentence. “Well, one day my daughter, she came to me and said, ‘Enough.’ It had been fifty-three years since I’d had any contact with her. Fifty-three years. And I called her up.”

He smiled again. “That was three years ago. We’ve been together ever since.”

We talked a little more until Brooke grew impatient.

“Where are the actors?” she asked.

“They’ll be here soon, baby. I promise.”

“It’s only for the grown-ups,” she said. “No kids on the stage.”

I put my arm around my girl and pulled her into me. I was already exhausted and exhilarated and happy and sad and depleted and soul-fed. And the show hadn’t even started.

Lessons two and three.

Don’t wait to love.

Love waits.

To be continued.

IMG_0718

{image is a photo of Brooke in her front row seat, studying her program before the show.}

4 thoughts on “godspell, again, still, more – part two

  1. You never have a dull moment! In addition to your other book, you should try a novel, ya know, in your spare time. You paint such pictures with your words and keep us in suspense.

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