|view from the podium (sans students!)|
I wove together the stories of my finally yielding to Harry Potter Mania and reading those seven novels and my ten-year journey through the forty-seven novels of Anthony Trollope (I'll write about him another day.)
The Chapel is a historic and historical building. So many famous folks have spoken there, including Emerson and Frederick Douglass. (Who most manifestly did not tremble in their graves when they got the word--through a literal grapevine--that I would be talking today.) I first spoke there in the winter of 1979--about a recent movie, The Exorcist.
And when I returned to the school (fall 2001) after retiring from Aurora Middle School (January 1997), I spoke there many times, usually at the Morning Meetings but sometimes on more formal occasions, too. Twice I spoke at what used to be called baccalaureate (but is now Senior Celebration). Usually, what I said was not too weighty.
There were silly poems about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, a dumb piece about what sorts of things people write in the guest book at Panera, parodies of famous poems. Once--years ago--the students performed a "play" I wrote with some other students; our clever title--WRA and Peace. (Get it? Get it?)
Sometimes I talked about writers I liked (poet Edwin Arlington Robinson) or an influential person. One of the great surprises I pulled on my wife, Joyce, was when she came to hear me a few years ago, never dreaming that she was the topic of the day! (She took it well--even when I sang (it was near my 64th birthday) the old Beatles' song "When I'm Sixty-Four.")
It was a great opportunity for me--an honor really--having access to that podium--that audience--now and then. The students and faculty were uniformly welcoming--even today, when fully a fourth of the student body had no idea who I am. (We gotta listen to another old guy ramble on and on ... it's so freakin hot today!) And it was (freakin' hot): By the end, perspiration was rolling down my forehead, heading for my moustache and beard (I know: TMI.). For one of the few times in my life I thought how pleasant it would be to get hit in the face with a snowball.