I met my husband doing a summer of George Kaufman plays with the Playwright’s Repertory Theatre in Florida. It was the first time I got paid actual money to act. This Summer Rep even had a few equity actors passing through; The Rep gave out of towners a place to live and paid enough money to keep us in Top Ramen and beer, provided we were willing to drink domestic.
Actors always are.
This little summer rep did 3 plays by one writer and debuted a new play every season. They taught Scott how to stage-fight. So, Scott and I, we are theatre people. Scott almost never talks, but when he does, he sure as heck can PROJECT.
When people snicker or snoot upon the dancing hot dog guy in a low budget commercial, Scott and I exchange knowing glances. “Working actor,” we whisper to each other. The sniggerers do not know how hard those legs, sticking comically out from the bottom of the bun, worked to get the gig, beating out 50 other hungry would-be hot dog legs.
We went to Medieval Times last night, celebrating the fact that Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Ten has now spent slightly more than a decade breathing the soiled air of this filthy planet, which is SO lucky to have her.
We cheered the yellow knight on. The yellow knight’s name was Timothy. He knows how do a roll-fall off a horse and he can stage-fight with flails and axes and polearms, and while dual-wielding broadswords.
He is a working actor, and I LOVE him, possibly forever. Here is why:
Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Ten is genetically poisoned on BOTH sides. Her father and I met in a theatre, and Maisy Jane was born for it. You cut the child, and she bleeds greasepaint.
She and her best bud Annalise wore medieval princess dresses from school plays—a little short now, but HEY, princesses circa 2012 are not afraid to show a little ankle—and Maisy LOST HER MIND at the pageantry of it.
I thought the best part was when my little born stage actor hollered – in a faux British accent that rivaled the one the excellent Serving Wench Jessica was wielding – “FIGHT WELL! AND WITH HONOR!” (Imagine it as “HONAHHHHHHH” in her piercing high pipering voice) and the Yellow Knight heard her (He would have heard from SPACE, believe me). He turned on his horse and saluted her with his lance, then leveled his ever so serious I-am-not-phoning-this-in gaze upon her and I said, “I shall.”
But I was wrong. It was a great part, granted. She lit up like a halogen bulb, so thrilled to be INCLUDED, to be a part of it, to have a LINE. But it was not the best part.
Later the knights all threw carnations and The Yellow Knight threw one to Beautiful Annalise Who Is Maisy Jane’s BFF. She blushed and grinned and ducked her head. I thought that might be the best part, that my Birthday girl looked disappointed ONLY for a single second and then was so delighted for her beloved friend.
She did not EVEN try to use BIRTHDAY MOJO to commandeer the flower, just hugged Annalise and let her have that moment. Then she turned and started cheering the yellow knight’s gallantry with such vigor I worried she might tumble from the bleachers and die gloriously beneath his horse’s hooves. I was so proud, that at ten she could be happy when a nice thing SHE wanted for herself came to her friend instead. THAT is the big-hearted girl I am blessed with….SO, yeah, I thought THAT was the best part. It ALMOST was.
But then! Good Sir Timothy of Yellow won the whole tourney! And with it, the right to represent the Prince in his battle against the awful green knight, curse his name and color, the green knight that we all vigorously hate forever, OUR GUY WOULD FACE HIM IN THE FINAL BATTLE!
Before he fought, they tied a favor to tip of his lance, a yellow sash, and he rode around lofting it, and then! He presented it to Maisy Jane! Extended it to her on the tip of his lance, bowing. The Sash declared
her to be the tourney’s “Queen of Love and Beauty!” She tied it on and cheered him so loud the child has no voice today. He then galloped forth and murdered that pernicious green knight in HER honor.
Thank you Timothy, thank you awful green knight that we vigorously hate forever, thank you Princess Leonore and Good King What’s-Your-Face. Thank you to ALL the working actors out there, the good ones, the ones who understand they are the purveyors of the only kind of actual working magic. The ones who Do. Not. Phone. It. In.
Last night, my daughter— who in such a short short short ungodly brief minute of time will not go so boldly forth in public in a too short princess dress and last years sandals, who will wisen up and see the banners are a little tattered and most of the horses are plugs and one of the knights has an accent that keeps wandering off toward Scotland, who will come to worry about whether or not cheering so loud is “Cool,” who will stop being so positive that magic IS possible, who will unstoppably close the door on the perfect innocence that is her childhood and, dear God help me, grow all the way up….Last night, she turned to me flat GLOWING with tears streaming down her face and said, “Best. Birthday. Ever.”
Let me tell you. I have had 44 birthdays of my own, some of them spent in exotic locales with my fav’rit fella, many involving amazing presents or events or moments. But yes, Maisy Jane, I have to agree. This was the best Birthday ever. For real.