Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Act One
AJ Robinson

In the classic theatre, plays were always in three acts. Today, that carries over into our films; most organized into three acts. There's the introduction, the main action, and then some sort of conclusion. In terms of life, we often speak of people living their lives in three acts: childhood, adulthood, and then the Golden Years, being a senior citizen.

There's even an old riddle asked of Oedipus by the Sphinx. What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening? The answer, of course is man.

The three-act idea prevails.

Shortly, Act One for a young lady of my acquaintance will end and, as often happens in such a situation, the end has given me cause to pause, and reflect on all that has encompassed that act. To wonder about Act Two.

It was nineteen years ago, this day, that I met this young woman. It's funny to think of the things that stand out from those years. First, she was quite adept at learning new things. One morning, while riding in the car, she complained that the sun was "biting" her; her word for something hurting. She wondered why the sun always bit her going to and from daycare. I explained about the sun rising in the east in the morning and setting in the west in the afternoon. Of course, as the saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I had to complete the explanation and tell her about north and south. A few weeks later, riding with my wife, she suddenly said, "We're going north."

Yeah, we had a feeling she was special.

Over time, she moved on to regular school. She showed how gifted she is, every day. The school wanted to move her up to second and then third and fourth grade. We were concerned about her social skills and worked to get her in a gifted class, which was very good for her. She grew into a regular kid, but she also had kind of eclectic tastes, my wife said they came from me, I never understood what she could possibly mean by that!

Yet, I had to admit, how many little kids enjoy watching old Charlie Chaplin silent movies and the Doctor Who TV series or found the stories about the 300 Spartans and the Battle of the Alamo cool?

Her sense of humor was also, and to put it mildly, slightly off the wall. When her grandmother gave her an old rocking horse as a present, we took it with us on a trip to see my mother. The horse's head was loose and when we got to my mother's, I slipped the head under the sheets of the bed my daughter would be sleeping in.

She thought it funny.

Then there was Nancy Drew; not the books, the computer games. Since the time she was in second grade, I'd bought her the computer games, one by one, and we would sit together and play them. It became part of our regular ritual, waiting for the next game, seeing what holiday or whose birthday its release would coincide with, and buying them. Once we had the game, we'd sit at her computer and play it until we solved it, we were relentless in our pursuit of the villains!

There were also tears. Over the years, we'd said good-bye to her great-grandmother; a dear friend, a grandpa and several pets. When our dear old dog, Shakespeare, left us, a pet she'd had since she was six, it was a heavy blow.

Now comes the end of Act I; she's eighteen now, and will graduate high school in a few weeks. After that, comes the summer, and then she's off to college. Beyond that, what can we hope for, holidays visits, the odd weekend? She's going to have her own life, and we can only hope that we gave her a head start. We may have "written" the opening "act," but, as the song says, the rest is yet unwritten.

If nothing else, I'm sure I can give her a great send off - the next Nancy Drew games comes out next month - just in time for Father's Day. I think I know what I'll be getting and it won't be a tie.

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.

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