Tableaux timeBill's Briefs, Latest Issue Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
July brings Laguna Beach’s famous Pageant of the Masters with tableaux vivant: famous art re-created with real people.
We had tableaux in the citywide Our History festival with all schools entering a display. I was corralled into two of them. One was The Salem Witch Trial. We froze in place for an eternity as all was explained. The bitch director stuck me, clad in black, in the darkest corner at the back of the unlit jury box. Invisible, my stage debut ruined! He shouldn’t have done that.
As the villagers watched in religious indignation and the fearful Puritan judge grimly announced the witch should hang, I opined, through un-moving lips, the fanatical prosecution had actually accused her of birthing a naked child. It wasn’t my fault the jury started giggling and ruined the moment.
The next year under the direction of Amelia Smythe-Burton (“Burton’s Bakery ’n Buns”) the chosen painting was Emanuel Leitze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, albeit slightly altered. The boat holding the usual gang is there, but missing its flag and its general. He was ashore being cheered by “Citizens and well-wishers” (bringing more family members to the show).
Our statuesque Washington, 5’8” 18 year-old Percy Smythe, was portrayed receiving the famous flag from Betsy Ross – beautifully, but modestly gowned, and charmingly enacted by Mary-Rose Burton, daughter of our generous sponsor Horace P. Burton. The snow, ice and water looked almost real. I was on board manly manning an oar – in the back, again. Mother swore she spotted my Davy Crocket coonskin hat, but more likely it was the tacky wig of yarn on the hulk beside me.
For my senior fans
I joined a young friend on his house hunt recently and after inspecting the first possibility we ended up on the back porch which overlooked a large lawn. With no particular intent, I casually mentioned it was a fine location for the clothes-line. Noting his blank expression, I strengthened my opinion by pointing out a place to hang the clothes-pin bag. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. The penny dropped, as they say in Britain.
The 40 year old “kid” had no concept of my topic, had never worried about the sheets freezing board stiff nor, for that matter, the lady who got her tit caught in the wringer. The what? I find such bewildered reactions fun to watch. Try it. Toss out some comment like: I met my wife in the steno pool” or imitate Ernestine’s “One ringy dingy.” Showing the routine on YouTube, we’d have to explain Ma Bell’s funny looking machine. Ma Bell! Oh, you youngsters.
Ask nicely and we’ll explain why “party line” and “one long, two short.” are not naughty code words. We might even tell you about leaving a note for the milkman, the rumored father of our neighbor’s children. Enough already. It’s fun talking in riddles to another generation, but remember, they can play the same game by switching to any of several current topics about movie stars, singers, fashions and fads of any genre.
The main enigma for many of us (me) is anything to do with computers, phones and the mysterious “cloud” which I hear constant references to now. No one has yet given me a clear idea of what it actually is. I’m told, “It isn’t really anything, but we all understand it.” Thanks very much. That’s a big help. Not. I can at least explain a clothes-pin bag, damn it!
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