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
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
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  • Front.lift
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  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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