We ‘Do’ Childhood Better…This Time Around

(Our cast of characters trying mightily to determine the villain at Books and Breadboards, a dinner/mystery theatre in Asheville.)

This friend wanted something special for her birthday, and we determined we’d give her that: As such, we agreed to take part in a kind of mystery/dinner theatre production where we played characters from storybook nursery rhymes. I was assigned Snow White, but I created my own version of that character.

I determined I wouldn’t wear the dress with the sweeping blue skirt and yellow bodice, nor her famed collar that stood up at the back of her neck. Instead, I fashioned her more ethnic. I wasn’t so much making a political statement as capitalizing on my good fortune of finding a gown of crimson taffeta, with puff sleeves trimmed in lace. Where? At the local Goodwill. I’m sure it was some woman’s bridesmaid extravaganza, but at $5.00, I considered it a steal.

My nametag saying “Snow White” helped dissolve confusion.

Upon entry to Books and Breadboards (name of establishment hosting the event), in Asheville, we party-goers learned there‘d been a crime, (the murder of King Henry VIII), and we were assigned roles of Suspect, Witness, or Investigator. No one knew who the true villain was except the Mistress of Ceremonies (the owner of the establishment), and she wasn’t telling.

Yes, we had to figure out “Who did it?” by talking with each other and gleaning all we could from responses. Oh, we had guide sheets to help us, but it was tough going, for we had to internalize prompts and script from the moment of arrival. In other words, we had to “work for our supper.” Thespians in our midst relished the opportunity to strut their stuff (Peter Pan did that literally as she brandished her sword).

What was the highlight? The food–of course! For dinner, we were served soup, salad, and an entree of chicken breast, cheese, mushrooms and a delicate melding of spices, all rolled into a hand-carved pasty served on breadboards (hence the name of the establishment). That was followed by dessert–a wonderfully dense chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. Some brought wine and an accomplished baker among us made the birthday cake.

In the end, two of our group won prizes: The Queen of Hearts (in above picture) won for Best Costume and Aladdin won for rightfully naming Cinderella as villain.

But the whole experience got me to thinking: Why don’t we older adults engage in more instances of childish fun (and I don’t mean the usual second childhood antics suggestive of dementia)? We’re actually better suited (pardon the pun) to play characters now than we were as children: less stage-fright, more at ease in public, creative in conjuring up costumes; willing to make fools of ourselves for the general good (a party).

In other words, life has taken away our inhibitions. We can now perform in the most animated of ways, mindless of our shortcomings. Maybe it’s time more of us delved into theatre or politics (aren’t they the same?)…

As an aside: In preparing for my role, I discovered the value of purveyors of second-hand merchandise (like Goodwill). It appears the younger crowd already knew their value, for in hunting down my costume, I met a young man from a local high school who’d snagged his suit there for his lead role in the upcoming show “Guys and Dolls.” He told me the whole cast had outfitted themselves there at $5.00 per dress or suit.

But it’s not merely costumes one can get at these places. Note the pewter-colored dress, below. I bought it for $5.00 and it’s perfect (I’d seen a similar one at a local shop for $100). Then, too, I purchased an ironing board for $3.00.

Two other customers shared their secret: They buy items (some are new and even have price tags still on them) and sell them–for a profit–on E-Bay. They probably even claim the money expended (via their canceled check) as “charitable contribution” at tax time.

Just more instances of wise consumerism and cottage industries spawned by leaner times. In Biddy’s estimation, these industries are a boon, indeed, for they recycle goods already in the pipeline, resulting in fewer items for the landfills.

(To the right is my ‘new’ dress and below is my smokin’-hot Snow White gown of vermillion red (“white/red”? I guess that’s an oxymoron). Both were ‘steals’…..Who’s the wiser? All who shop at Goodwill, Salvation Army, Big Sisters, etc. ***And P.S.– that’s Snow White and Cinderella in the smaller picture to the left.)






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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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