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Irony - The Thin Edge of Dignity

Elizabethan Theater, Ashland

I had just finished reading an interesting story on Yahoo News, and went to breakfast in the dining room anxious to tell my table mate, George, about it.  After I prefaced my retelling, I couldn’t remember the story I wanted to tell. Yet . . .

. . . The other night, I was reminiscing about my undergraduate days as a student actor, playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice:

Hath not a Jew eyes, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not  bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Wow! I remembered that speech – and more. I was twenty-one then. That was sixty-four years ago!

But, that’s nothing: when I was a pre-pubescent lad of about ten, like many middle class New Yorkers, I went to summer camp in the mountains of upper New York state.  We all sat around a table in the massive dining room, and when our food service was late, we all sang our derision:

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness,

                Waiting for our food.

You do the subtraction – I was ten; now I’m eighty-five.

What strange tricks our brains play upon us.

I can’t remember the name of the author whose book I’m reading.

I couldn’t remember the news story I had just read.

The mother of all ironies for us old people is that we live in the present, but survive in the past.

It is our distant memories that makes our present livable.

Unlike the youth we look to the past rather than the future.

Why, when I was your age . . . .

[Photo, Elizabethan Theater, Ashland: Joyce DeMonnin]

Dick Weinman is an AARP Volunteer and our ALF Guru.

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