Here's one thing I'm relieved about: I don't have to make Lilah look like a dinner napkin. She'd been telling me that I did. That was her character, in her 7th grade production of Beauty and the Beast. A walking, talking napkin, as one of the castle servants. How relieved I was when she came home one day and said they had decided she would be a fork or spoon instead. Even the costume experts working on the play were stumped as to how to make a human napkin. Best part--they are going to provide the utensil extensions for her costume. All I have to do is dress her in all black clothing.
Meanwhile, Annabelle is prepping for her role as a hamburger in her 5th grade play. She won the lead after auditioning in front of her class. Since two girls are going to take turns doing the lead role, she has to share the part with another girl, who happens to be her nemesis. Unsure that she would win the part, she had hopes of being Sally Salivary Gland as her second choice.
As Harriet the Hamburger, Annabelle takes a "fascinating journey" through the body's digestive system, encountering characters such as Iggy Incisor, Phantom Plaque (ooo--scary), Eunice Uvula, Erin Esophagus, David Duodenum, Larry Large Intestine, and Randy Rectum. No, actually there is no Randy Rectum, but there ought to be.
As Harriet travels the highways and byways of the gastrointesinal tract, she is squeezed by the esophagus, blasted with stomach acid, and sent down the foulest corridors of the body, yet she is expected to remain ever cheerful and willing as she decomposes. Down her long, dark descent through the small intestine, she is told, "My villi will help you along the ride. They feel like velvet."
The play is a propoganda piece, a disingenuous sugar-coating of bodily functions. Harriet is never told the whole truth about what is to become of her. She is reassured that she will be "absorbed" into the bloodstream, but is not told that a large part of what makes her who she is will be eliminated.
It is not until she is whisked off-stage by powerful intestinal contractions that the truth is hinted at. But even for the audience, the details of Harriet's fate are kept murky. The events that follow her trip through the small intestine are carelessly summarized by Larry Large Intestine, who lugs around a stuffed garbage bag for effect and takes broad credit for disposing what's left of Harriet. "It's a dirty job," he says, with a heavy air of selflessness, "but someone's got to do it." No mention of the likes of Randy Rectum and Annie Anal Sphincter and the role they play.
Annabelle's play isn't a big school production, but just a classroom play that is going to be taped and shown on Open House night in a few weeks. Lilah's play at the middle school is a big musical they've been rehearsing for weeks, after school and on weekends. Annabelle has the lead and lots of lines. Lilah has no lines --she sings and dances in a group. The plays are happening on the same night in February. What's a parent to do? Sibling rivalry will ensue. Paper, rock, scissors. Napkin, fork, hamburger. Does fork beat hamburger? Does hamburger crush fork? What if Lilah is a spoon? Stay tuned.