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“Our Town”

I’m taking a real chance now. I shouldn’t be here, hanging out by the side door. But if someone asks, I can make a plausible argument that I was walking from the movie theater to the diner, and the voices attracted me and caused me to stop and look. I can’t be accused of gawking. Gawking seems to be an unknown concept here.

The stage is brightly lit and easy to see from where I am. And the sound carries. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt are acting out a scene. Another boy is behind them, silent. Suddenly I recognize the play and I can’t keep from rolling my eyes. “Our Town”! A popular play for high schools to do, years and years ago. This little village I’m visiting is so 1954. The boy behind must be the “Stage Manager”. Sukie and the boy in the red sweatshirt are supposed to be a young couple, I forget the names, but they’re debating whether to get married, or something.

Sukie’s voice projects better than the boy’s. The kids stop as their teacher, out of view, says something. Now they get a little closer. The boy recites louder now, his sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers contrasting with the unspoken nudity of his companion. The overhead theater lights cast sharp, interesting shadows over her body. Shadows of her head on her bare shoulder. Long, pointy shadows of her nipples and breasts cast down her flat tummy. She turns around, gesturing, her soles like quiet sandpaper across the floor. Shadows of her butt cheeks onto the backs of her thighs. Shadows of her ankles. Her acting is quite animated. Too much so -- the director asks her to not move around so much. As I recall, these characters are supposed to be dead.

Now a clear snatch of dialogue. “Emily, you’re just naturally bright, I guess,” the boy says.

“I figure that’s just the way a person’s born,” Sukie says, one hand on a thrust-out bare hip. This makes me smile.

It’s a jolt when I see another adult next to me, a lady my age with a big handbag. I smile and nod at her. Fortunately she’s not calling me out. “The voices carry, tonight.” I nod. We listen some more. “They seem naturally talented,” I say. “Yes.”

After we watch for another minute she says, “You know Jason, there, he’s the one whose grandmother was in that accident.” I figure she means the boy in the sweatshirt. “Oh really,” I say.

“She could have died,” the lady says. “The boy’s really being brave, rehearsing tonight.”

“Indeed.”

“Well I’ve got to go, good night,” she says. I nod and watch her walk away. Now she waves at another lady in a car across the street and they drive away. I’m glad she didn’t ask my name. But then I realize: why am I afraid of divulging my identity? I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m on my way to a convention and my car broke down . . . For some reason I want to stay anonymous here.

Then I almost kick myself. Why the hell didn’t I ask her: “Excuse me, I’m just visiting here. Why is that girl always naked?? And why does she have to wear that -- bikini every day??” This was a golden opportunity to ask. Now it’s gone.

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