Wellington Lambert

Mary Poppins I am staring at Julie Andrews while Garth Drabinsky is asking to borrow my bite light. Garth is a crooked man, physically and morally, bent over just a bit and hobbling. Julie Andrews stands one step behind him, allowing her eyes to adjust to the back stage area. I hand my dented bite light over, thinking, possibly that my dried up saliva will touch Julie Andrews’ hands. She looks at me and smiles, I could have been hallucinating but I think she was glowing, and singing, directly to me… or not. I never did get my bite light back, I like to think it is tucked into her purse, with my DNA sleeping beside her wallet. It was one of my side jobs, as a dresser on the show “Show Boat”, to retrieve hats thrown and caught in the orchestra pit net during the montage sequence. Every night after the show I would skulk back stage, after all the stage hands left and pick up the hats one by one. I would have my bite light, which is the size of a fat pack of matches, between my teeth. You bite down on it and it lights up. The bite light is used by dressers to hold in your mouth and offer light while leaving your hands free to help the actor change, as quickly as possible. It also serves to muffle any swearing that might come out of your mouth while some asshole dancer throws a piece of clothing at you. So really, it has a dual purpose. There had been rumours that Julie Andrews was in the audience and was interested in looking at the theatre for her musical “Victor Victoria”. Every sycophant actor was busy trying to figure out how to “accidentally” run into her. I, of course, knew I would never even glimpse her shadow, but was secretly working on a speech I had been practising for the last few decades, for just such an event. You see, even though, as a child, I knew my mother was one of the best mothers in the world, I felt, after seeing Mary Poppins, we needed a Nanny, preferably one that could fly. We didn’t really need one, but being the empathetic child that I was I wanted my mother to have a rest. So what better way to provide mother with rest then by getting someone to take over her maternal duties, preferable someone who uses an umbrella as a mode of transportation. Unfortunately, other than a few angry old women who took care of us while my parents took their very occasional trips south, no nanny was in the making. I would just make due with my imagination. Creating a pretend Nanny, someone who flew in with words of encouragement, someone who looked just like Julie Andrews. She would feed me medicine with a spoon full of sugar and teach me long words like” Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious “, just for fun. We may not live on No. 7 Cherry Tree Lane, or have an “ardent suffragette” as a mother, but for a brief time, my internal personal space came with a Nanny, a singing flying Nanny…and it was fun. So meeting Julie Andrews twenty years later if only briefly and completely unacknowledged actually means something to me. Something only I would care about. .

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