Let Me Play Among The Stars.

I was wide awake in a friend's living room after crashing on her couch. No one else in the house was stirring, so I flipped through a book on her coffee table. It was a collection of personality self-tests - the type I call "Pigman stories", after the book by Paul Zindel. "You're tasked with a quest, and you're given a sword to aid your journey. Describe it... oho! You've just described your sense of self-worth!" That sort of thing. A fun way to pass the time, and find out a few things about how you see the world.

My favourite question from the book was the very last one. "You have the starring role in a play, and it's just ended. The audience, including your family and friends, has departed, and the lights are now on and the theatre's been cleaned. You walk onto the empty stage... what do you say?"

My response: "Finally. Now we can get to work." I've always enjoyed being behind the scenes in things, you see. My proclivity to dance on an empty stage might have had something to do with that answer, too. As it turns out, though, the "key" to that story was that the stage represented death, and my response reflected how I felt about the end of my life.

(No takebacks on your answer, either.)

Yesterday, our company performed the final presentation of Much Ado About Nothing. The audience applauded, the cast hugged one last time, and I escorted the co-producer back to the storage building with a truck full of props. Along the way, he helpfully cautioned me that I might experience some depression now that the show was over, and that this was normal.

Afterwards, he dropped me back off at the empty stage, after everything had been cleaned up, and there I was -- just where that story had asked me to imagine myself. I doubt the co-producer thought that my "eventual depression" would translate to "conversations with death the same evening"... but I guess I do tend to do things differently.

All that was left, then, was to speak from the script I'd already written. I stood in front of the historic Duggan House which had served as our backdrop, and said my line. And then, I danced a little soft-shoe and sang "Fly Me To The Moon" with all of my heart, with only the pollen of the cottonwood trees there in the seats to watch.


Stefanos said...

You take every opportunity to dance, don't you? I'm going to ask my wife that question about the empty stage, since she's huge into theatre. :) Never thought of it associated with death.

Denton said...

It's a neat question, but it would probably work best if you asked her a few other questions like that first. (And if you avoid spoilers, you can answer those as well when she's around. Fun for everyone!)

Stefanos said...

In case you were wondering, Caitlin's answers were as follows: Quest Sword - Well balanced, Strong core, and lightweight; Empty Stage - "Good Night everyone, I'll see you tomorrow."

It's answers like these that make me glad I married her. :)

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.