A Mummer in Word and Deed
I know the season is shifting, because I got my envelope of ten raffle tickets to sell as my share of fund-raising for the Two Street Stompers Comic Brigade, one of many fabulous Mummer units that strut down Broad Street on New Year's Day in Philadelphia. I'm proud to be a Stomper. We won first prize in our division last January! Our theme was "Wenchtoberfest." You may have forgotten (or I might not have said) that the male comic marchers wear frilly skirts and carry parasols swathed in satin ("wenches"). We gals wear the same thing, only our skirts are a little longer. Anyway, our routine was all about hoisting a beer and rolling out the barrel. I think it lasted 2 minutes, maybe 3. We practiced twice. Twice, I tell you! That's dedication. That's what makes us champions.
That said, being a Stomper isn't a free ride. There's a new costume (we call 'em "suits") every year, hand-made, and better than any Halloween wear you'd find in a store. Then there are transportation costs, a lunch, and a big beer tab. Hence we have to pay out a personal fee and also do the raffle.
I will commence shameless imploring for raffle buyers at a later date.
"Mummer" means someone who doesn't say anything. Today I played the part brilliantly.
The colleague who teaches next door to me is a retired parochial school teacher/principal/superintendent who has a meager pension from the diocese. When asked to fill in at my school last year at a high pay scale, commensurate with her experience, she leaped at the chance. She's back this year, resolutely ignoring our union, and pretty much not buying into our curriculum either.
She is also, needless to say, a Roman Catholic of the first stripe.
I don't go out of my way to avoid this person, but I sure don't seek out her companionship. However, from time to time she comes into my room for a little socialization.
Today after lunch she dropped in to say that Wednesday is her big day. After teaching public school, she goes to church and teaches History of the Old Testament to seventh graders.
She said, "Well, I used to teach it in school, so now I don't mind teaching it at night. I'm glad I don't have to do it on Sunday. I like those three-day weekends."
I may have mumbled, "oh wow." But otherwise I stayed completely Mum.
*I could have said I studied History of the Old Testament at Johns Hopkins University, and that was where I learned that the early Semites were polytheistic, and Baal was one of their deities.
*I could have said I read in Harper's magazine that, try though they might, archeologists have never been able to find any evidence of the Passover, of Israelite slaves in Egypt, of the migration of Abraham, or of the antics of the rest of that early crew.
*I could have asked how she musters historical evidence for Noah's flood, and where they stored the dinosaurs.
*I could have asked if the curriculum includes all the laws about stoning people to death.
Instead, reader, I shook my head gently, said nothing, and began fumbling with my window shades.
If the Old Testament is history, so is Morte d'Artur. As much evidence for the one as for the other.
But I didn't say that. I visualized myself lurching down Broad Street, pumping a satin parasol, and saying nothing. That's how we Mummers roll.