Monday, February 15, 2016

Thinking About Alligators

If you're up on current, local news, you know all about the alligator drug bust.  If you don't, here's the scoop - in the process of locating a parole violator, police went to a home and were greeted with a strong pot smell wafting through the air. Upon searching the premises, a hug amount of marijuana was found, along with an alligator!  An alligator, right here in Manitowoc.  It seems the little guy was pretty sick - dehydrated (or high) and was quickly taken to a rehab center.  Makes sense, I guess. After all, anyone dumb enough to be growing, or storing or whatever ...several pounds of pot you surly needs to protect it with a guard alligator.  

Personally, I am not a fan of the alligator or the crocodile for that matter.  Years ago, while prepping a show I was directing at a local high school. I dreamed of going into the costume dungeon.  I'm not kidding when I say dungeon.  The door was hidden behind the trophy case, held shut with a rusty padlock that sometimes worked.  Down eight or nine steps in the pitch darkness before coming to a light switch that sometimes turned on the single bulb dangling from the ceiling.  Down three more steps, sharp turn to the left and then another door. This place was never intended to be storage.  I think it was actually an access passage to something mechanical which the custodians just hoped they would never have to access. Anyway, the black hole of costumes was occupied by a colony of crocs.  Play prep always haunts my dreams with the intensity in direct proportion to the difficulty of the show.  

Ironically, one of my favorite new kids' books is the one pictured above.  Magnolia's teacher tells the class to brings something from nature for show and tell.  You can see what Magnolia brings!  She's a spirited little kid, and the alligator matches her move for move.  He chews gum. laughs behind the teacher's back, and tries to eat a kid.

The fun isn't limited to the story, though.  The illustrations tell their own stories.  You have to watch for the paper airplane flying from page to page.  Clever names decorate lockers and the blackboard is filled with questionable facts.

Alligator allegory?  Yup, read Lisa Moore's Alligator to see how ruthlessly reptilian some folks can be. And don't forget Bringing Albert Home, a memoir I wrote about earlier.  The author's mother had a pet alligator but her soon to be husband gave her a "him or me" ultimatum.  Mom decided to return the beast, cross county via car, to Florida.  Guess what?  She meets Hemingway in the process.  

Kipling wrote about an alligator in his Just So Stories, but my all time favorite alligator line was spoken by Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals by Sheridan.  I loved all those comedy of manners playwrights - Goldsmith, Congreve, Wilde.  But Sheridan gave me Mrs. Malaprop, a character who spoke in a confident voice while butchering the English language.  Speaking of a sweet young thing named Lydia, Mrs. Malaprop says she's "as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile."  Malaprop says much more, but that's the only quote that fits here!

I'm still working on and thoroughly enjoying West with the Wind.

Thanks for stopping by.