Last month Connor's school had a book fair and he wanted to spend some of his birthday money there. Fine with me, and after some serious thought the decided $10 was a good amount (the kid is stinking rich) and I told him he could spend it on whatever he wanted. Over the years I have witnessed many a school book fair and figured my child, like so many before him, would succumb to the siren song of novelty erasers, giant pencils and other various cheap artifacts that seem to physically cry out to students at these events.
So I was surprised when he arrived home with the most depressing book ever written plus 82 cents in change. Screw the 100 dollar bill shaped erasers, we were now the proud owners of "Heroes of the Titanic." He was giddy with excitement and couldn't wait to shower, get in pajamas and cuddle up to read about the greatest maritime tragedy of all time. Every night we took turns reading about a different hero plus tons of random and apparently intriguing facts about the Titanic. But here's the deal, I am a person that doesn't even like to watch the news before falling asleep because it could potentially be too sad, so it was a real downer to fall asleep with thoughts of under used lifeboats rowing away from screaming passengers trying desperately to stay afloat in icy waters. There. See what I mean? Depressing.
I have never been so happy to finish a book, but in typical Connor fashion the obsession was only beginning. Bring on the research! "Mommy, the Titanic had 20,000 glasses on board. We only have 17 glasses." or "Mommy, where are our au gratin dishes? I want to see if they look like the Titanic's." I had to break the news that not only were ours dissimilar, they didn't even actually exist. I mean really, what if my children went around boasting that they ate out of au gratin dishes? How pretentious. I draw the line at individual souffle cups because those are clearly a necessity once a year when they get used to hold Easter egg dye.
All of this interest culminated last week, as most things do at our house, with a two man show. Connor decided that he and his brother would be reenacting the heroic story of Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the two telegraph operators on the R.M.S. Titanic. (Ever wonder what R.M.S. stands for? Well, guess what? I now possess this knowledge! The Titanic was a Royal Mail Ship and guess what else, there were heroes in the mail room too!) But back to the show, Connor, as director, assigned parts. He was going to be Harold Bride the young operator who had always dreamed of life as a wireless operator and Hudson would be Jack Phillips, Harold's boss, mentor and friend. As we do not actually own a telegraph machine it was decided that messages would be written on paper and then physically thrown across the room to symbolize the passing of messages across the Atlantic. Connor told his brother that their ship was going to hit an iceberg and it was their job to write "help notes" to send/throw across the ocean so other ships would know to come get them. So far, so good. Hudson began writing "his letter" (a capital H) all over the paper. Side note: Hudson is exceptionally good at writing the letter H.
"Wait," Connor interrupted, "I haven't told you the surprise yet!" At the word surprise, Hudson dropped his marker, hopped to his feet and covered his eyes with his hands, clearly expecting some kind of gift to appear. Connor sighed and pulled his hands down. "No Hudson, it's just words. A word surprise. Listen to me, we are both going to work really hard sending our messages but only one of us gets to stay alive." insert dramatic pause " And it's going to be me." Hudson studied his brother's face for a minute and then said, "I be dead?" "Yes, Hudson, we both make it to the lifeboat but when the Carpathia picks us up you are already dead. You just didn't make it. But don't don't be sad, you saved lives! You sent messages until the very last minute! You are a hero!" Hudson, now warming up to the idea of his heroic demise shouted, "Oh yeah baby! I be Supa-hero and then I get dead!"
And there you go. Cue the music (inexplicably "Route 66" from the Cars soundtrack) and this show was underway. I have to say it was one of their better performances. Hudson only broke character twice, once to do his infamous booty dance (which looks exactly like it sounds) and the second time at his death scene when he chose to spice things up by eating an imaginary poisoned apple a la Snow White and then collapsing on the floor. End scene.
And that folks, is how history comes to life.
Blanco State Park
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