Friday, June 20, 2008

and the rocks melt with the sun

When I was in 9th grade and all of 14 years old? I was cast as Martha Muldoon, a failed stage actress, in Blazing Guns at Roaring Gulch: a Western melodrama scheduled to debut during our school’s annual talent show.

Mine was a bit part -- nothing like the time I commanded the stage as Penelope the Pride of the Pickle Factory in the 6th grade -- during which I was responsible for 1) reciting the Robert Burns poem My love is like a red, red rose in its entirety, punching up the hyperbole (I was a failed actress after all), and 2) wearing a tight gold lamé gown that clung all the way down until it flared at my feet like a mermaid. It was accentuated with black crepe that circled me like a vine.

I learned two things from the production: 1) that the Robert Burns poem, once learned, will never leave you (and still it comes to mind every time I spot a red rose, and did again this last weekend when I trimmed my giant rose bush and arranged the blooms -- of which this is one -- in a yellow pitcher that sits on my kitchen table).

I also learned -- through the ardent attentions of a really cute high school boy who came to the production as a friend of a friend (don’t worry, Dad: it didn’t go anywhere) the power of a tightly fitting gold lamé dress. It’s a little startling as a girl of 14 to learn these things -- but you’ve gotta learn sometime, I guess -- about the power of sex of revealed, or partially concealed. It’s still a little unnerving to me, as an old woman now, how a little too much cleavage can make some men stupid (yet somehow endearing), how delightful that kind of attention can be, and also how unsettling.

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June :
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love,
And fare thee weel a while !
And I will come again, my love,
Thou’ it were ten thousand mile.

— Robert Burns

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