Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not While I'm Around...

Despite the fact that I have a powerful adoration of at least one musical, I am not a big fan of "THE MUSICAL" as a genre. It's not just that I can't sing and thus parts in musicals were therefore never an option for me, *insert bitter sneer here* it's not just that I was unable to even attempt being involved in theater in high school because all they did was musicals, it's mostly the sheer amount of suspension of disbelief required to immerse in a musical. There are so many elements that must work, it's not easy to pull it off - it's not for the faint-hearted to even try. Unless the setting is one that might possibly allow for people to burst into song in a theatrical setting (Cabaret, ShowBoat, Kiss Me Kate for example) or is set in a story of heightened reality (Hair, GodSpell, Rocky Horror) or is simply abstract or just plain so full of astounding music that it doesn't matter where it's set, I generally can't get behind a musical.

I love music. I love the theater. It's the old, you got peanut butter in my chocolate argument - except that most of the time I'm not loving it. Which is weird, right? But as with many things, I'm always willing to give 'em a shot. Especially since I can safely say I'd be dead were it not for a musical.

This is why I rented the DVD of Sweeney Todd the other day. I am pretty much the anti-fan when it comes to Sondheim. I know people swoon over him, but honestly his stuff just leaves me cold. No offense to Mr. S: it's just not my cup of tea. More of a coffee drinker, don'tcha know. But I do like Johnny Depp. Yes he's a little too pretty, but ya gotta love an actor with artistic integrity. So I rented it.

I have never seen a production of Sweeney Todd, never wanted to. I see now that my instinct was correct. Sondheim. Just don't get the appeal. It wasn't bad. Just not for me.

However there was one song that I found disturbing. "Not While I'm Around". A kid singing to a fairly monstrous woman who has 'adopted' him that he will always protect her and no one will ever hurt her while he's there. She sings a reprise back to him with the same sentiment. Of course she's lying her pie-baking ass off when she says it.

This was disturbing to me because (a) no one has ever expressed a desire to protect me... which is kinda sad; and at this point in my life (b) if they did, I would assume they were baking 'people pies' in the basement - and I would have thought that even before hearing this song. Okay, maybe not the people pies part, but the betrayal.

I wonder what it is about people that stir others to that mother lion sort of protective instinct, what it is that I apparently lack. I've always been more the mother lion than the protected cub. Are the two mutually exclusive? I mean doesn't the mother lion sometimes need someone to take care of her?

I know that my protective instincts were born of my parents violent weekends. You don't sleep with a kitchen knife under your pillow every weekend from the age of 8 so you'll be ready to protect your mother from your father in the middle of the night without developing a bit of a habit. But isn't there a time when someone else takes a shift? Jesus... even Buffy the Vampire Slayer had back-up!

I know, I'm all about the pop-culture references.

It's not that there hasn't been help from time to time. Of course there has. But nothing on a regular, "I know I can rely on this every day" sort of basis. Nothing where I could say: someone else will take this load for a little bit and let me rest, or just make me dinner, or ... something.

God knows it would be bone-crushingly hard for me to trust someone else to take care of me - *insert defensive* "I CAN DO IT MYSELF!" But aside from some sweet gestures from friends from time to time, like running the dog out for me, it's pretty much been I do it myself. Because if I don't, who will?

Several years ago I had broken a finger, then the 'doctor' broke it for me again because it was setting wrong (long story, thanks as ever to the USA's health care system) and was in a cast from fingers to elbow for 7 weeks. Being one-handed was difficult. But I managed. Even managed to adopt Basil's crazy cat while I was in the cast.

A few years after that I ended up in the hospital with meningococcal disease that left me without the use of both hands for a very long time. Or I should say I could use them - if I didn't mind excruciating pain. Now here's a case where someone did indeed take care of me - Gary came (all the way from New Jersey) and dragged my ass to the emergency room because I was a goddamned mess. Had he not done that, I would have simply died in my sleep. Seriously. This shit kills people in under 48 hours. I thought I had the flu. Though I had never had a flu that made my hands hurt so badly I couldn't open a door and the air blowing over them made me scream.... I had a fever over 104, I wasn't the best judge of what was going on. I mean I fought with Gary, saying I just wanted to sleep, I'll be FINE. *sigh*

And believe me, seriously grateful to my BFF for being in his "I am the teacher you will do as I say" mode on his off-time.

But it was during the recovery time where, despite maintaining that I could do it myself, I wondered, isn't there anyone who might ... help a sistah out? For example, the then-boyfriend. Yeah. Not so much. The less said about him and my mental state for caring about someone so unbelievably selfish and sick the better.

I am very capable of taking care of myself. It's damned difficult for me to ask for help, and it's even harder to relax and accept it when it's offered (though I'm proud to say I'm learning to do it). I'm not an egg, I don't need to be coddled. Nor do I want to be. But just because you CAN take care of yourself, does it mean you don't get to play the other part sometimes? I mean, damn, even tops can be bottoms sometimes. Right? Right?

I know, I'm all about the food and sexual references, too.

All this from hearing a song in a musical I didn't particularly like. I guess I have to accept the fact that while I say I'm not a huge fan of musicals, that I do see that they have an important place as art, even if it's just for a single song. Even in the ones I don't care for. Anything that makes you think is good. Is art. Don't you think?

1 comment:

marxsny said...

Obviously I have a different opinion about musicals but as far as the rest goes you are absolutely correct. When a person spends a great deal of their life taking care of others and they quite unexpectedly find themselves in a place where they need the help and support of others but realize that there is no one there it can be a pretty tough pill to swallow. Although the person will survive, the consequnce is that such a situation may make them hard, cold and bitter and with the belief that there is no virtue in helping anyone but oneself. Perhaps the line holds some truths "The history of the world my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat"