2006.05.03 Camping with Jeff and Dolley

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

My best friend, Dolley, won’t shut up about all the play productions he’s involved in.

“Dolley!” I shout over the phone. “I’m lonely! I’m morose! Come visit me! Bring girls!”

“I can’t do it,” he says. “I just can’t do it.”

When he says he “can’t do it,” what he means is he can’t wake up at 9:30 a.m. and drive back to Kalamazoo to make it to play rehearsal at noon. Let us all come together and chide Dolley for being a girly man. Let us also chide him for being involved in plays, which, with the exception of dancing, is the girliest thing in all of history and the imagination.

That is, until two Saturdays ago, when Pat Grover called and asked me to take a role in “Camping with Henry and Tom,” which is coming to the Fayette Opera House this weekend. I sighed.

“I really don’t think I can do it,” I told Pat. I was cleaning my rifles at the time. “You see, I’m very busy. I lift weights three or four times a day. I spend a lot of time souping up old Mustangs. I’m scheduled to kill a moose with my bare hands this coming Tuesday.”

“Please!” she pleaded. “Please!”

“Well,” I said. “Let me check my agenda for today. From noon to dusk I’m occupied. I have to chop down an entire forest. Normally, this would only take me an hour or so, but with gas prices so high, I want to stay economical. So I’m going to use a butter knife.

“I promised a horse farmer I’d help him take some spit and vinegar out of his stallions, so I’m probably going to spend six or seven hours tonight body slamming yearlings. But I’m free between seven and nine. Will that be enough time for me to learn my part?”

“It depends,” she said. “How smart are you?”

“Well, let’s just say this,” I replied. “My biceps are so big that I just split the sleeves on my t-shirt. For the third time today.”

“Ooooh. That is smart,” she said. “So, will you take the part?”

“I guess,” I said. Then I hung up the phone. After about four seconds my internal smoke alarms started going off and I realized what I had just done. I dialed Dolley. “Dolley” I said. “You have to help me. I’m in a play!”

“Stop calling me a girl,” he said.

“I’m not! I’m in a play! You have to help me!”

“For the last time, Jeff, I’m not a girl!” he said.

“Dolley! Listen to me! I. Am. In. A. Play.”

“Are you serious? You’re in a play?” I replied that I was. “You are such a girl!” he said.

After trading salvoes of “No, you’re the girls” for the next 15 minutes, he finally agreed to help me learn how to act. After all, he was the last person I actually appeared on stage with. I remember it like it was five years ago. He was Captain America. I was Captain Pajamas. We went from room to room in my high school. I would burst in the door, screaming, “Forsooth! Is this the end of Captain Pajamas?” Then Dolley would kick me in the back. “Take that, Captain Pajamas!” he’d cry. We’d trade blows for 10 or 15 seconds, then tumble out the door again. On to the next room. Senior pranks are the greatest.

But what’s not the greatest is being in an actual production and not being able to act. Thankfully, it’s my character’s job to suck. More specifically, Henry Ford orders my character to suck fuel from a crashed car.

Ford then offers me carrot mush, president Warren G. Harding berates me, Thomas Edison calls me a nincompoop, and I shoot a deer in the head.

“Getting yelled at and called a nincompoop? I should be able to pull this off well enough,” I thought aloud after reading the script. “Right?”

Wrong. We did our first run through last Thursday for the 10th graders at Delta High School, and I must say it was a sad day for acting. My screw-ups ran the gamut—I forgot parts of my costume, I forgot my lines, I flubbed my lines, I came in before my cue, I ran into props, I broke character, I even messed up shooting the deer. Let’s just say we’re lucky no students were injured during the course of my buffoonery.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If I wanted to see Jeff mess up, I’d just pick up a copy of the Observer.”

However, I assure you that I won’t mess up come Saturday, which is why you should attend the show. That, and the other actors are all good enough to offset the badness that tends to follow me wherever I go.

Yep. That’s right. They’re that good.

– May 3, 2006
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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