Friday, September 4, 2015

Act III Episode 14 - Awaiting the Barbarians

Act III Episode 14 - Awaiting the Barbarians - The Last Classic Lit Class Under the Boards

Ocean City High School teacher Bill Hamilton held the last Classic English Lit class of the summer school session under the boardwalk at the Music Pier at the same time Tom Snyder above him was broadcasting the noon weather report, dressed in a Bay Shores Dunes Til’ Dawn T-shirt and Campbell’s Seafood baseball hat, for which Clint Campbell supplied the TV crew with fried fish and fries for many meals.

As the six students, including Kate, the mayor’s daughter, sat on a beach blanket and ate Mack & Manco’s pizza from a cardboard box, that Hamilton had provided, they began to discuss the assignment – Calvary’s epic Greek poem “Awaiting the Barbarians.”

Taking turns Hamilton had each of the students read a part of the poem out loud, a poem about a medieval town in Europe that, when news of the eminent arrival of a hoard of Barbarians, causes people to panic and the chaos their fear causes creates more damage than the Barbarians, who failed to show. 

Awaiting the Barbarians - By Calvary 

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

            Because the barbarians are coming today.
            What laws can the senators make now?
            Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
            He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
            replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

            Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
            And some who have just returned from the border say
            there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution. 

After they had read the poem, some of it twice, they engaged in a heated discussion as to whether the poem still had meaning, if it could be related to contemporary events, and if it was worth discussing at all. 

After the one hour lesson, Hamilton announced that everyone had passed the course with an A grade, as they knew they would as he was known as a pushover for easy A's. 

Then Kate went directly to work at the Chatterbox where she was disappointed in having missed Grace Kelly, who was in for lunch with her kids. 

Back at the Chatterbox Kate the waitress comes up to one of her tables, a booth where Lizanne Kelly Levine and the Chatterbox grill cook Chris Mathews were talking.

“Hello,” Kate said, “I’m your new waitress if you need anything,” as she observed them finishing up their banana splits.” 

“Hi Kate,” Chris said, introducing her to Lizanne.

“I’m sorry I missed Grace,” Kate said, and was taken aback when Lizanne said, “You didn’t,” pointing to the little girl in the booth eating a Sunday. “This is Grace Kelly Levine.”

Chris, with his apron and floppy white cook’s hat, excused himself to get back to work, and mentioned the fact that, “Hey Kate, I’ll be singing tonight at Your Father’s Mustache if you can get your dad and sister to come in I’ll be there singing away.”

“Okay,” Katie laughed, and at Lizanne’s invitation, sat down in the chair Chris had left and asked Lizanne, “So what’s it like to be the sister of a princess?”

‘It’s more like having a princess for a sister,” Lizanne said.

“I’m sorry I missed Grace,” Kate said, and was taken aback when Lizanne said, “You didn’t,” pointing to the little girl in the booth eating a Sunday. “This is Grace Kelly Levine.

“What was the wedding like?” Kate wanted to know.

“I don’t know, I wasn’t there,” Lizanne replied.

“You should have been a bridesmaid,” said Kate.

“I know, but I stayed home prego with Grace here,” Liz explained, and then went into the litany of things that happened, that left Kate with her mouth wide open and uttering one long, “Wowwww.”

Then Liz asked Kate if she was athletic and liked sports and competition, and with an anxious nod of the head and an emphatic "Yes," invited Kate to the Kelly Clan Beach Olympics on Monday and surf, sail, row and play volley ball and unlike the Kennedys who play sissy touch and flag football, play co-ed tackle football on the beach. That is if she was up to it. And bring a friend. 

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