Aug 19, 2015

Beefcake and Bonding in The Seven Ages of Man

September 12, 1967, a Tuesday night.  I am six years old, almost seven, just beginning first grade at Hansche Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin.

At 7:30, I want to watch The Invaders, but my parents say no, it will be too scary.  They turn on Red Skelton instead.

The boring, bumbling comedian does a pantomime of Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man, narrated by Maurice Evans, who plays Samantha's father on Bewitched.

 He starts with a "mewing" baby, which I find hilarious -- only cats mew.

Next is the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping unwillingly to school.

That's cool. I'm a schoolboy!  There are lots of cute boys with shining morning faces in my class.

Hey, this thing is telling me my future!  What's next in my life?

The lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad, made to his mistress' eyebrow.

 I don't know what many of those words mean, but Red Skelton acts out a boy who is in love.

There's nobody else around, so I can't tell who he's in love with.  Probably a boy.

Next comes the soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth.

I don't understand anything except jealous, but Red Skelton plays somebody picking a fight.  Maybe they're mad because the same boy likes them both.

Then comes the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances.

Next I'm going to get fat, and have a beard, and cut things with saws.  That's cool -- fat boys are cute!  Everybody at Hansche School wants to hang out with them.

Next is the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on his nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose well saved, a world too wide for his shrunken shank, his big, manly voice turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.

That's a lot of big words.  All I understand is,  I'll have a big, manly voice, wear glasses, and like to whistle.

The last stage is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.  

So when you're very old, you turn into a kid again, and start hanging around with other kids.

Sounds like a fun life.  I can't wait.

See also: Shakespeare: The Original Gay Poet.

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