Saturday 28 May 2016

Midnight Volleyball
AJ Robinson

I’ve been a member of several theatre groups over the years. The best was the Charlotte Players. The group had great people and we did some fantastic shows, but the best thing of all was our After Show Parties.

Our Director, John, had a cute little apartment on the beach. Oh, who am I kidding, it was a dump! Yeah, a beat up old house that was just plain horrid.

Yet, his beach house was comfortable. He liked it and he kept it clean. It was there that we would have our cast parties and they were always the best.


We hiked down to the beach.

Once a sufficient number of people had arrived, we hiked on down to the beach, which was across the street and down a simple dirt path. We got to work when we hit the beach. We set up the volleyball net, split into two sides, and got to playing.

We were in luck; almost everyone was a decent player. Not great mind you, but they at least played well enough that the games were always close in score. As for myself, it was one of my all-time favorite games and I was a great server.

Not to brag, but back in high school I was quite a good volleyball player. I could serve that ball so that it just barely cleared the net and always seemed to land squarely between two players. Back in the day, my team often won by shutout.

Anyway, we’d play a couple games, then, as it got hotter, we’d splash around in the Gulf of Mexico for a while, to cool down; after all, we were in Englewood, Florida. Not for long, mind you. No, the desire for a re-match burned strong in all of us, and so another game would quickly follow.

What am I saying? Not merely one more game, as you might think, but a bunch of games! The only thing that stopped us was our hunger.


The cue was that the spaghetti was ready or the burgers

Eventually, the lunch bell rang. That was the cue the spaghetti was ready or the burgers were on the grill; you get the idea: food! Hiking on back to his place, we served up the various dishes that everyone had brought.

After eating, we’d find seats wherever we could and it was movie time. Not a movie, as such, but Dan, a friend John and his roommate, would pop in the video he’d made of the show. We’d all finally get to see the musical we’d worked on.

For some of us, those who worked backstage, it was literally our first time truly seeing the show. It was always fun. Not only did we get a hoot out of seeing our friends on stage; it always ended up being a sing-a-long and sometimes an act-a-long.

Some shows had scenes that were such fun to watch, such as “Oliver” or “Music Man.” We’d get up next to the big screen television and act it out. Many times, it wasn’t the actors, but those of us who were backstage and had watched from the sidelines.


It was our time to shine and we had a little fun

Yet, that was not the end of our fun. Oh no, there was more. Once we’d eaten, we were re-energized, and off we went back to the beach. Back to the volleyball net and ball, and a new game began.

Thus was set the pattern of the rest of the day: game, rest and swim and new game. The only thing that stopped us was the lack of light. As the sun melted into the Gulf, it finally became too dark to see the ball and we had to return to the house. We’d have a quick bite to eat, wrap up the leftovers and say our good-byes.

When we got the glow-in-the-dark ball, nightfall was no longer an issue. It was a gift from the cast of “Kiss Me, Kate” to John that allowed us to play long into the night, which is exactly what we did. Only general fatigue and the desire for sleep ended our game.

Well, there was one other fact that often ended our games. It seemed the ball was a little hard and bruised our palms and arms. We realized later that it was the glow paint; it gave the ball a stiffness that made it a little hard to play with. Still, we figured it was a small price to pay for not having to quit until we were truly ready.

Yeah, midnight volleyball is one of my favorite memories of the Charlotte Players.

 

 

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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