Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Catching Up

 So, let me catch up on some of the things that took place while I was busy not blogging. I mentioned them in passing here and I do want to revisit and comment on a couple.

Halloween – It was a successful day for the kids, less so for me and Tori. Understand first that Halloween on St. Croix was very different. There wasn't a lot of trick or treating in the neighborhoods, first of all because virtually every house is fenced, and Crucians just don't walk past the gate without an invitation. They will stand at the gate, even if it's open (and people were always telling me what a bad idea it was to leave my gate open) and shout from the street. In four years someone knocked on my door once, and that was last summer when my neighbor's mother was visiting from Minnesota and needed some help. I was so surprised I didn't know what to do. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses! Really! And the FedEx truck. A plumber you had called. Anyone. A Crucian would no more walk up to your door and knock than he would flap his arms and fly to the moon. But they wouldn't go away. They'd just stand there and shout until you came out and acknowledged them. 

And frankly, many of the neighborhoods you wouldn't want your kids walking up to strangers' doors, even on Halloween.

The one place for a traditional Halloween was Estate Cottage, one of the Hovensa employee housing communities. Inside the security fence they maintained a community of a hundred or so homes for the upper level workers, it looked rather like a lot of western U.S. developments. And on Halloween they'd have a traditional Halloween, kids running up and down the streets, knocking on doors. all the houses decked out with pumpkins and decorations. It was fun. But Hovensa is gone, and the housing complexes are shuttered and vacant. It was sad thinking about those empty streets this Halloween.

Our neighborhood here in Metairie was all lit up and Kate and Max were excited. We had carved our pumpkins and put up some decorations that no one was likely to understand – Slender Man anyone? But the kids loved it. And they set out, returning some hours later with more candy than they had ever scored on a Halloween.

We didn't know what kind of turnout we'd get, so we bought a LOT of candy. Which mostly I ate. Because we had only four kids come to the door. If one more had come I was just going to dump the bucket in his bag, but no luck. Our house is towards the end of the block, and there are two vacant houses to the left, and the neighbors across the street were dark, so kids didn't see the point in coming down. Too bad. I was prepared to be VERY generous.

Learning to Fly. Yes, I did, but not like, in an airplane or anything. I was flying kids in the theater at the local school.

Max Baur IS Captain Hook!
Max was Captain Hook in the school district production of "Peter Pan" and I was dragooned to work on the flight crew backstage, pulling the ropes that made Peter and Wendy and Michael and John fly. My schedule is flexible and I like helping out, especially in theater where my background is useful. I was "flight captain," in charge of the flying, but it had less to do with my actual rope-pulling ability than my gray hair. The rest of the crew were high school kids and one dad who could only make half the shows.

It was fun, but my high school kids seemed to enjoy showing up at the last possible moment, as I frantically made plans for what we'd do when this person or that person wasn't there. They always were there, all 14 performances. They just enjoyed watching me sweat.

Sharing the backstage area with 70 to 80 kids from first grade to 12th, but mostly clustered in the middle school range – it was a BIG show, my hat is off to the production team – was not always easy and I was the one who had to chase kids out of the wings or keep them from playing with props, and occasionally grabbing a drill and repairing some set piece a kid had sat on and broken but which had to go on right now. But they were good kids for the most part, and they had fun. I pretended to be the grumpy old man, but I admit it. I had fun too. And I think the kids learned a little about how to behave backstage.

And it goes without saying, Max was great as Captain Hook! Hilarious. The ultimate accolade was when he got booed! And there was a school performance when the house was full of kindergartners, first and second graders. As Hook snuck on stage to poison Peter, the kids were shouting "Look out Peter! There's a pirate behind you! Wake up!" You had to love it. For that audience, the show was working!
Captain Hook scolds Smee. By the way, the captain is wearing MY boots! The boy keeps growing!

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