Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Opening Another Show

It’s show week! 

Dodge City High School is presenting its yearly musical theater extravaganza and the two younger Pyle children are rather prominently featured.  This means for them a week of excitement, a week of costumes and hair styles, a week of dancing, a week of singing, a week of very little sleep, a week of becoming a bit snappish with the father who asks too many questions about how it is going and a week that will live in their memories for a long time.
It wasn’t intentional that we would become a family of performers, just sort of happened. 

I did a couple of plays in high school but that was only because the Inimitable Rob talked me into it.  My lovely wife, Claudia, was a singing and dancing Molly Brown, you know, the one who proved to be incredibly buoyant, at her high school but neither of us did any performing again for several years.  Our kids, however, have been much more involved in shows in their younger lives as well as high school. 

Daughter #1, Emilyjane, was born with a theatrical bend.  She would emote at the drop of a hat.  She loved to dance even before she could walk (this mostly consisted of rocking back and forth on her bottom in an emphatically rhythmic manner).  As she got older she danced as often as she walked.  If she needed to go to the refrigerator to get the milk, she danced, if she was going out to the car, she danced, if she was traveling through the aisles of the grocery store, she danced.  For some reason whenever her mother or I decided we would dance in the grocery store it was mortifying to her, wicked double standard if you ask me.  She would later become a singer as well and burst into song more frequently than a hyperactive canary. 

Daughter #2, Alice, didn’t seek the spotlight as often as her sister but she never shied away from it either.  There was one time in a performance of the children’s choir at church she was handed a solo the morning of the performance because another child was sick.  She kind of muffed the opening of it.  The choir stopped for a second, the kind-hearted young boy standing next to her called out to the congregation that she had just got it today, and then she proceeded to nail it. 

Only Son, George, takes after his father with very strong hermit tendencies.  He will spend hours by himself but he always had a very strong imagination and in his younger days his pretend play was pretty elaborate.   He was oddly without stage fright at a very young age.  Even as a toddler he was given a costume to resemble the outfit his old man wore as the mascot for the Dodge City Legend Basketball team and was willing to be silly in front of several hundred folks as Mini Marshal Hoops. 

I am a pathetically proud papa. 

Emilyjane was in middle school and I drove her to a music contest.  Anyone who has ever been to a school music contest knows it is two to four hours of driving in order to have six to seven hours of sitting around with a very intense three or four minutes of performance.  She sang “Shenandoah” while I sat in the back of the room trying lot to let anyone see that I was crying like a menopausal woman watching “The Notebook”. 

Alice was given one of the featured roles in Seussical when the Depot Theater Company did the show a few years back.  Since she was not as prone to perform around the house I have to say I was genuinely surprised and blown away when she truly opened up her pipes and sang her big song, luckily it was dinner theater and I had a napkin handy. 

George was in a show I directed for the Depot Theater group.  We had added a couple of kids for extras.  I was surprised when the musical director gave him a couple of short solos in some of the big chorus numbers.  The result was ten different performance nights with the director/dad at the back of the house smiling like an idiot. 

When Alice takes the stage as Sandy (wearing a wig because her hair is too short to be a fifties teenage heartbreaker) and George stands up there as Kenickie (with his hair slicked back like a BP pelican) I will be very glad the lights are on them and not on me. 

Christopher Pyle is glad his children enjoy the arts, but regrets this means none of them can support him in his old age.  He can be reached at

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another Milestone around my Neck

There are times it is actually pretty hard to come up with what to write about in these columns.  I know the gentle reader is shocked to find out the bon mots and Algonquin Round Table style wit which flows from my brain through my fingers onto the keyboard and into your hearts and minds every other week requires a strain of my creative abilities.  The preceding load of Grade A plant food was brought to you by the good folks at Ferti-lome. 

This was one of those weeks.  So, I sat myself down at the dinner table and announced I was brain dead and had nothing to write about.  Here are the suggestions which followed.

The Lovely Wife said I could write about how I was now old enough to have a daughter who had gotten engaged.  Uff-dah. 

Yes, my oldest child is wearing a ring on her finger capable of cutting through glass or at least through her boyfriend’s life savings.  It was not a shock.  The two of them have been together for quite a while now and they had been talking about their future like it was a fait accompli marriage was going to happen.  But still it makes a father pause when the little girl he helped teach to walk and talk, the little girl who crawled into his bed at night and promptly used her feet and elbows to lacerate his spleen and kidneys, the little girl who used her big brown eyes to talk him into getting dogs and cats who then ruined carpet and furniture, the little girl who needed prom dresses which cost more than all the clothes hanging in his closet, the little girl who now goes to college and will probably not come home as often as he would like, the little girl who looks too much like him, the little girl who laughs at his lame jokes, the little girl who still wedges herself between him and his wife when they try to hug and says “baby sandwich” is getting married.  I never should have let her mother talk me into teaching her how to walk and talk.
The young man really is a good guy.  He even came to me at my place of business to ask for her hand in a very old fashioned and respectful manner.  I told him my concerns, which were not many, and he acknowledged and addressed all of them.  I felt like I was then beholden to list the dowry he would receive.  I almost didn’t have enough goats to seal the deal.
He really did surprise her when he popped the question.  For the last few years my wife and kids (I am too socially inept) have hosted a caroling party a few days before Christmas.  My daughter’s soon to be fiancĂ© decided he would ask her when the group was at his aunt and uncle’s house during the caroling.  Everyone had sung a couple of songs when he announced he had something to say.  The cell phone cameras of all the people who had been clued in all sprung into action.  He got down on one knee and she started crying.  I was standing at the back of the throng with the boyfriend’s father.  After the original hubbub subsided he called out he hadn’t heard the question.  I then chimed in that I hadn’t heard the answer.  She said yes. 

All those cell phones recorded the moment for posterity.  Which will be great for so many reasons.  Not the least of which is my daughter was wearing what she considers to be a hideous Christmas sweater. Her sister and some of her friends who knew what was going to happen tried to figure out a way for getting her to change.  Everything from a friend thinking about spilling something on it to her sister throwing herself on the fashion grenade and claiming she wanted to wear it.

The wedding is two years away but that doesn’t mean the last few weeks have not been filled with planning and discussing and planning some more.  I, being the voice of reason, or wet blanket, depending on your point of view, keep reminding people the wedding is two years away and people might change their mind.  Oh, not about getting married, but rather what songs they will want played at the wedding.  They just look at me funny and go on.  That happens a lot in my house.
My suggestion on what to write about for this week’s column was how much I like ketchup.

Christopher Pyle approves of the boyfriend, approves of the marriage and very much approves of the two year waiting period.  He can be contacted at