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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Consider the Lilies (Part 2) by Guest Author Megan Culhane Galbraith

Guest Entry by Megan Culhane Galbraith

When I was in grammar school, I used to watch Mom get ready for cast parties. Dad was theatre director as part of his duties as an English teacher at our High School, and she was the one presented with bouquets of flowers before each production. She went to the cast parties with Dad after each play wrapped each High School season. There were parties for “Flowers for Algernon,” “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “The Screwtape Letters” (which we were not allowed to see.)

Much of my after-school time in elementary and middle school was spent with Dad in the theatre, racing up and down the carpeted stairs, unfolding the theatre seats and trying to sit in every one as fast as I could, posing in ways that might attract the attention of (all) the leading men who I had consecutive crushes on; caring for a white mouse that was a prop in “Flowers for Algernon”; and messing around with the lights and the sound board while Dad rehearsed his students. I was a demented Eloise and the theatre was my Plaza Hotel.

It seems to me now that I was fusing myself onto other people, flailing around for someone I could identify with, constantly trying to imitate, act, or pretend my way into a character whose part hadn’t been scripted yet. I had no idea who I was.

Watching Mom get ready to go to the plays and the cast parties with Dad was magical because she seemed happy. She was so pretty, bobby pinning her short brown hair in spit curls in front of her ears and pressing her lips on white Kleenex, leaving red puckered lipstick stains. I would buzz around her like a gnat, asking questions and bouncing on her bed. Eventually, Dad would pull into the driveway with our babysitter Kevin Silk and I would skip down the hall to buzz around him in all his teenage cuteness.

The last thing Mom did before leaving the house was to spray Cotillion on her wrists and behind her ears. Then she leaned over to kiss me goodnight on the top of my head. The first thing I did when she left was lock myself in her bathroom, pick the Kleenex out of the trash and squeeze my lips together where hers had been.