Many years ago, my brother and his son sang the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon,” at one of the Wednesday Night Sings held at the Tabernacle in the Campgrounds of Oak Bluffs. That’s on Martha’s Vineyard. I always loved that song; the story was so sweet, even though the ending often made me cry.
Recent events have reminded me of the song. I know a dragon, with a young friend, but not a little boy, mind you. No, his friend was a little girl and together they did frolic in autumn and all the other seasons, in the mist, rain and snow. Although they didn’t live by the sea, they often visit the beach and made several trips to an island the dragon loved.
The girl and the dragon used string and wax and other fancy stuff for all sorts of arts and crafts projects over the years. They would make a toy for a cat, forts in the woods and space stations out of cardboard boxes.
Together they traveled, by car mostly, although they did go on a few cruise ships. They saw and did many wonderful things and had adventures in caverns, saw ancient homes and towns and journeyed beneath the sea. The people they met were not kings or princes, but people from all over the world. They met people on trains, chatted with others in England and Australia. Once, a nice elderly couple from Israel paid them a visit.
There were no modern day pirates to lower their flags, but they did go see the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. The girl had a crush on Johnny Depp. Still, she loved her rascally dragon.
Then, as the song says, little boys and girls do not live forever. There comes a time when they grow up and move off into the world. When they do, the “dragon” they leave behind is not brave enough to play along the cherry lane, not alone, and he must sadly slip into his cave.
Yet, there is one thing that gives this old dragon hope for the future. There is an alternative ending to the song. I heard it once at a county fair.
In the alternative, another child comes along to be Puff’s friend and so the dragon is happy once more. It made me think about the little girl, now all grown up, and what lies ahead for her. There will come a day when she marries and has children of her own. When that happens, the final lines of that other version will take place; the dragon will have new friends with whom to share adventures.
I wonder who is the dragon?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.