Tonight my roommate popped in The Music Man. A classic. But even though it is a classic, The Music Man is not one of those musicals that I absolutely love. I like it just fine. It’s exceptionally random, has catchy songs and I find Shirley Jones to be particularly (though subtly) hilarious and little Ronny Howard is particularly adorable...but it has not been one of those musicals that I crave seeing...not like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Tonight though I realized that The Music Man has a special place in my heart...because of the word “carrion”.
I know the word “carrion” because of this movie...and my dad.
I remember one day (it must have been some point during the high point of my “musicals” phase, which was quite extensive...and is not all together over) I was watching The Music Man in the kitchen. Dad must have been around...probably doing some handy project or another in the house. Dad is always working hard...he naturally keeps himself productive. At some point he stopped for a little while to watch part of The Music Man with me. I don’t really know exactly where it was, but I picture myself sitting at one of the stools in the kitchen, dad standing on the other side of the counter with some sort of tool, or cloth or piece of a project in his hand, both of us watching Robert Preston dance around and sing “Marian the Librarian” on the little TV that lives in the corner.
“If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it,
I could lie on your floor unnoticed
'Till my body had turned to carrion....Madam Librarian.”
I remember dad stated that he was amazed that someone had managed to insert the word “carrion” into a song.
“What does “carrion” mean?”
“Carrion is the carcass of a dead animal, it usually refers to a carcass or flesh that is rotting”
“Yes, that would be a good example of carrion”
Of course I don’t remember exactly what dad said...but this sounds like what he might answer...concise and spot on...so clear, and so easy to understand...no question about it
It was also during this particular sitting that I learned another vocabulary word: “aught”- I'm not entirely certain that's how you spell it.
“Professor Harold Hill. Gary Conservatory of Music, gold medal class of aught five”
“aught five” meaning ’05
...thus “aught” meaning 0
...used to describe the years of the early 1900’s
This information from dad prompted a discussion on whether or not people would use “aught” to describe the early years of the 2000’s (I see now in retrospect that the term “aught” did not make a comeback)
I pondered this experience as I spoke on the phone with one of my students. She is having a hard time lately...not so much academically...but just in general life. She’s not a space case, or messing up, or getting in trouble. She’s getting her homework done and behaving in class and being a positive participant. We even selected her to give a speech about Gratitude (one of our school’s 8 Character Strengths that we focus on) when the founder of KIPP came to visit our campus. She’s unlike the rest of the kids that we spend so much time focusing on...because it is so obvious that those kids need help. It’s not obvious with her. But one day she seemed a bit down in class so I asked her if she was feeling ok. She asked if we could talk about it at lunch.
“What’s up sweetheart?”
“I was in class and I looked around and saw the other people all happy and I just felt bad because I’m not happy”
At that point through her tears she pinpointed that she was feeling sad because her brothers were being mean to her...telling her she was worthless...telling her it was her fault that their parents got divorced.
“Do you believe you are worthless?”
“Do you think you are the reason your parents got divorced?”
“But it still hurts when they say that huh?”
Dumb teenage boys. She stood up to her brothers and they’ve left her alone.
Lately, though, there have been other things bothering her:
“know the problem is with my dad GF aka which”
Translation: now the problem is with my dad’s girlfriend, aka “witch”
This was written in a recent journal entry (we’ve been passing a journal back and forth for the last few days)
...but the problem isn’t so much the “GF” its the dad. It’s the time. It’s the attention. It’s the feeling that the “girlfriend” is taking it all.
The last time she remembers spending time alone with her dad was half a year ago.
Tonight as we talked on the phone he was in his room watching TV with his girlfriend and her 7 yr. old son.
I didn’t much understand her response to my suggestion that she go watch TV with them...something about having to go to sleep...which makes sense, it was 9:30pm...but I thought in my head “take initiative, go spend time with your dad...even if it’s 100% how you want it to be”
As that crossed my mind, I immediately thought of The Music Man...and “carrion”...and “aught”. I thought about how I didn’t have to “take initiative” to see my dad...I didn’t have to fight for his attention...I didn’t have to call my teacher and have her explain that “just like kids are growing up and learning how to be good people, adults are learning and growing too. Teachers are still learning how to be good teachers, dads are still learning how to be good dads.” I didn’t have to worry if he cared about me or wonder if he had other priorities that were more important than me. My dad made it so clear and so easy to understand...no question about it...I knew I was a priority. Not necessarily through the verbal professions (though those were there), not necessarily through the special “Dad and Kate” activities (though those were there)...mostly through the little things...The Music Man, “carrion”, “aught”...many other musicals...and many other words. Thanks for the vocabulary Pops...and for so much more!