I covered my mother's plastic hand mirror in tin foil. Then I scotch-taped pink ovals of construction paper on either side, decorated with question marks. Voila: A magnifying glass. Working primarily with a paper grocery bag and that same scotch tape, I was able to fashion a dog's nose and ears that could be worn over the head. Of an actor. An actor portraying the faithful companion of the detective searching for the Missing Part of Speech.
Detective Musgrave was being portrayed by my pal Ronnie. Kent won the part of Hector the Bloodhound. These were the guys with whom I sat in a group in Ms. Stuart's fourth grade class. Though it was a combined production along with Mr. Pazour's class, all the big parts went to Ms. Stuart's students. The other member of our group, Warren was cast as the irascible Herb the Verb, featured in the number that brought down the house, "Herb the Verb Is A Man of Action." The rest of the fourth grade filled out the chorus, playing various parts of speech. I made signs for them to hang around their necks, making them easy to identify from out in the audience.
I was none of those. I was the prop manager. This was because I would be away while the play was being performed. This served a couple of purposes: I was able to be a part of the show and able to show off my talents as an artsy-craftsy kind of guy, and I was not forced to stand up there while all that star power from the rest of my group took center stage.
Having played the title role in my kindergarten class' version of Peter Pan, I had my fill of the spotlight. I learned that being an actor could lead to wearing tights or having to kiss Tinkerbell. Even though I was pretty sure that standing in the back row of the adjectives would probably keep me safe from such torment, I felt a calmness as I completed my assigned tasks, knowing that my name would appear in the program, a line of my very own: Costumes and Props by David Caven.
No record of this show exists. It remains part of the visceral memories of those who were there without videotape cameras or smart phones to capture all that wonder. I remember watching some of the rehearsals, but I never got to see the whole thing come together. But every so often, when the sun peeks over the horizon and the wind is blowing in from the north, I catch myself singing, "Herb the verb is a man of action, he's busy all the day through. He runs, he walks, he whistles, he talks. He does whatever you do."