This is the second installment of a series, Lessons from Musicals.
Of my performances in high school, my role as Hennesey in Dames at Sea was the most memorable. Even though I was sheltered and naïve in high school, I sensed there was something somewhat off about Dames. A musical we performed in the 1970s that was written in the 1960s to parody musicals from the 1930s? Although it centered around three heterosexual romances, I could sense there was a gay subtext. Perhaps it was lyrics like these (sung about a guy named Dick): “…my gentle he-man/The man for me man, my first class sea man…” Or maybe it was that Village People song that came out the following year. Dames at Sea was certainly campy.
Therein lies the heartbreak in Dames at Sea.
This is the first installment of a series, Lessons from Musicals.
Forty years ago, I performed in my first high school musical. Actually, we did excerpts from several musicals including Oliver and Plain and Fancy. I went from Mr. Bumble to Papa Yoder and experienced stage makeup for the first time (and the massive amounts of cold cream to take that stuff off).
But my experience with musicals started long before I took the stage at Reseda High School in 1977.
Forty years ago, I earned my Eagle Scout award. It remains one of my greatest personal achievements. I learned many valuable lessons from Boy Scouts. In addition to life skills from first aid to paddling a canoe, I learned how to overcome mediocrity and that you can leave unsupportive situations to reach your goals.
The most important thing I learned from Boy Scouts was how to be a man.
Masculinity is not an easy thing to talk about these days. It stirs up perceptions of misogyny, harassment, abuse, and discrimination. But I believe it’s more important than ever to talk about masculinity, especially as our understanding about gender identity and sexual orientation grows. What it does mean to be a man today, especially when we see so many horrible behaviors some consider “manly”?
I’ve never been so angered by the news as I have been these past few days. Syria. San Bernardino. United Airlines. Stockholm. Borussia Dortmund. Sean Spicer. Sean Spicer! If he had a shred of honor and self-respect left, he would resign. But he doesn’t, so he won’t. And his boss won’t fire him because doesn’t have it either.
We’ve been spending the past few months wondering where the bottom is to this rabbit hole we’re falling down. We haven’t hit bottom. We’re nowhere near the bottom. And God help us when we do hit bottom. I’m afraid that it will be the most horrific and tragic thing we have ever experienced. And we’ll have no one to blame for it but ourselves.
Resistance can slow our descent and possibly soften the impact. But it’s too late to stop our fall. We can limit the damage, but we can’t prevent it.
Keep resisting. Find something positive you can grab on to. Hold your friends and loved ones close. And brace for impact. It will take all of our strength, determination, and faith to get back on our feet and climb out of the pit.
I have two new novels that are free to read on Inkitt for a limited time. Even though these books are free, I still have to convince people to read them. And book marketing brings up all sort of bad memories of when I tried to ask girls to date me in high school.