Saturday, November 24, 2007
I think one of the pleasures of growing older is that you come to understand the words of your childhood. The very first Broadway musical I ever saw, way back in middle school, was A Chorus Line. But with its themes of heartbreak, abuse, powerlessness and insecurity, it was heady stuff for someone who had just turned 12. What I would mostly carry with me into adulthood was the music, especially the fantastic bars from the show closer "One". Three years ago my father's name and reputation were destroyed by a man named Mr. Samuels who then saw an opportunity to connive with the board of directors to steal the business that my father had worked nearly forty years to build up. Yesterday I learned that Mr. Samuels had suffered a huge breakdown and was mentally incapacitated. And yet, I felt exactly what the Diana character from A Chorus Line felt when she sang about her high school teacher. It's a number that has you laughing at the beginning as she describes the folly of a Puerto Rican girl trying to imitate a bobsled, a table, and ice cream cone. You can't help wincing as she describes the humiliation endured under her teacher Mr. Carp who insisted she would never be an actress. At the end of the song, Mr. Carp dies. And Diana cries. Because, as she whispers in a mournful, pitiful tone--she felt nothing. I thought being HIV+ had taught me to show sympathy for the weak and vulnerable. I thought I had learned that life is too short to be feeling nothing. When given a choice between pain and nothing, do you always have to choose pain?