Jun 15, 2009

Let the Sun Shine

So, Maya's last day of school was Wednesday, and the school's annual talent show always takes place that morning. This year (like last year) she did a hula hoop routine. She set it to "Let the Sun Shine In" from Hair, and dressed up in green harem pants, a white Indian shirt, a green suede vest, and a headband with a big white flower pinned on it. I wish I had a still photo to post here, but I was filming it on video and didn't have a free hand. Plus, it's a new video camera and I don't really know how to use it very well, so it took all my effort to get that right.

She was the last act in the show, and if you know the song, you probably remember that the first three minutes is a medley of different voices and even pieces of different songs, and the next three minutes is full of very melodic but also unimaginative lyrice--it's just "Let the sun shine, let the sun shine in, the su-un, shine in" over and over again. For the last two minutes she invited the whole show cast on stage with her and all the kids were dancing and singing together. It was a really beautiful ending to both the show and the year. Because I'm such a sucker for kids singing on stage of course I started crying, and trying to keep a videocamera steady when you're reduced to a blubbering mess, especially when you're using the camera for the first time (see above) was a real sight to behold, let me tell you.

The top two contenders for songs to hoop to were "Let the Sun Shine In" and "The Age of Aquarius"--which is an excellent song for hooping, by the way. We've been listening to the soundtrack from "Hair" in the car (minus the R-rated songs, which I nearly always remember to skip over) pretty consistently since returning from New York in April, where we saw the play on Broadway. I'd loved the music from "Hair" as a kid, and have vivid memories of dancing around like a dervish in our wood-paneled basement singing "The air, the air, is everywhere." The movie came out when I was 14, and set me off on a long and torturous path of relationships with every man I met who looked remotely like Treat Williams. No job? Even better!

Seeing the play on Broadway, 40 years after its original appearance there, yielded a couple of large surprises. One was that I realized I still knew all the words to all the songs, even though I hadn't heard some of them in more than 20 years. Another was that bringing two kids, ages 11 and 7, to see "Hair" is a much more questionable parenting decision than I'd initially bargained for. I'd sussed out the nudity part in advance, and had been assured that it was handled tastefully (which it was). Plus, these are Topanga kids. Naked neighbors in backyard hot tubs are part of their landscape; I wasn't terribly worried about that part. I'd completely forgotten how raunchy some of the lyrics were, though. A few lines into "Sodomy" Eden leaned over and loudly whispered, "Mom! What do all these words mean?" I told her, "I'll explain when you're older" and she seemed okay with that. But the F-word was omnipresent, and there was lots of sexual mimicry on stage, oy vey. I hope I haven't inspired years on therapists' couches ("And my mother? My mother took me to see HAIR!"). Nonetheless, the play was a joyous celebration of nonconformity, with dancing up and down the aisles, and audience members invited to dance on stage at the end, a wild, colorful, uplifting party of a play. And the inspiration for a school talent show hula-hoop routine. Who would have thought?


Ginny Buccelli said...

Re: Future Therapist Couch Visits

I found that if I offered to pay for therapy later, my parenting was generally left out of the conversation. I'm just sayin'.

laura didyk said...

Hi Hope,

I just wanted to leave a note that via my job I received a review copy of your memoir. While it's not right for the readers of the magazine I work for, it's sure been right for ME. And I will certainly be writing about it on my blog. (As a side note: Your essay, "Bruce Springsteen and the Story of Us," is one of my favorite essays of all time. I wrote about the essay as an undergrad in an analysis I had to write for that issue of the Iowa Review, and the teacher of that class now uses it every semester in her memoir course. The piece was a huge factor in me deciding to keep going as a writer.)

My main reason for writing, though, is about The Possibility of Everything, which I quickly absconded from work and dug into immediately. I am about half-way through and it's SO DAMN GOOD. I would buy it for a gaggle of friends post-haste if it were available NOW. I can't stop reading it. I was up until 3 am this morning unable to put it down and even then I had to count to three to get myself to close the book and turn the light out.

You have done yourself proud! And I will still buy the book for the gaggle when it comes out in September!

best to you and your family,

Laura Didyk
(blog: http://laura-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.com)