The Princess Bride was performed live on Sunday night by almost the entire original cast. I so wished I could watch, but I had work to do.
I was supposed to be writing or planning, but that’s only because I had wasted Sunday morning trying to figure out how I could get PowerPoint on my school laptop. I needed it so that I could try to perform a live and recorded read aloud in the way that I saw demonstrated on a Youtube video. It took me two hours of fiddling to finally realize that I could only perform this great feat on my own laptop, not the school’s. But my laptop has such a feeble camera that even though I do, in fact, appear on the screen simultaneously with the images from the pages of the read aloud, my image looks something like the blurry mix of colors that glides across the map when you see the weather radar of a storm time-lapsing through your region. It would not exactly be the read aloud experience I had wished for.
All day, I played catch-up because of that. I was late going on the walk with Nancy and Farley, late getting to the weekly plans, late calling my mom, late getting to the tv to catch the end of the Washington Football Team rallying to actually win a game.
So this evening, I had planned to be finished with everything before 7:00 p.m. (6:00 Central), when we hoped to watch the reading of one of the great movies of all time. I wish.
I wasn’t finished planning. I hadn’t even begun to write a slice. I just couldn’t.
Still, I found myself drawn to the computer. I needed to experience this moment. I watched it anyway.
Dabs of The Princess Bride have dotted my entire adult life.
My nephew, now 32, stands in the family room at his grandparents’ house. He’s five years old, but he commands our attention. He brandishes his toy sword and shouts, “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Pare to die.” He says everything so clearly and with such passion, but just can’t quite get that word “prepare.” Today, he’s an actor.
My daughter heads off to an interview, nervous but determined. Nancy and I stand at the doorway, waving nervously, but we manage to bellow, “Have fun stormin’ the castle!”
We’re at Relay for Life, where our family raises money by running a marriage booth. For a few bucks, you and your beloved can dress up in a costume wedding dress, tux, and Mickey Mouse top hat. Then, you can stand in front of my daughter, Emma, the officiant, wearing a graduation robe, as she recites the wedding benediction, “Mahhhwidge, mahhwidge, that most bwessed awaingement, that dweem wiffin a dweem…”
For the past 12 years, our fifth grade has taken a field trip to Storm King Art Center. It’s become a rite of Autumn at our school. It’s a great trip for many reasons, but one aspect I had not realized I’d come to anticipate was the bus ride. It’s a long trip, and our district requires that we take a coach bus. This means we have a DVD player, and it means that I can try to convince 50 fifth graders that they need to watch a classic old movie. “Please, you won’t regret it.” Sometimes I have enlightened allies whose parents have taught their children well. Other times I’ve lost the fight. But when it works, it’s magic. One year we pulled into the museum parking lot before the movie ended, and no one wanted to get off the bus.
This year? A two-hour trip on a crowded bus? Inconceivable.
Tonight, new lines jumped out, proving the timelessness of the script. After their duel, Inigo Montoya asks the Dread Pirate Roberts, “What’s with the mask? Are you hiding some scars?”
“No,” Roberts replies prophetically, “I find it very comfortable. In the future I think everyone will be wearing them.” The actor on the screen, Cary Elwes, is sporting a light blue surgical mask.
Among other things, the movie pays tribute to the power of a great read aloud. Grandpa knows all the tricks. First the admonishment that books were how kids entertained themselves before TV, then the teasing, “I think I’d better stop. It seems to be upsetting you.” and later, “Maybe I should skip this part.” Somehow, without Powerpoint or Zoom effects, he turns words into pictures and pictures into drama, and drama into real life.
And when the story ends, Grandpa gets the best return, “Grandpa, if you want, you can come over tomorrow and read another story.”
Grandpa’s reply ends the movie with lines that throughout the movie stand for something so powerful it can overcome sickness, pain, suffering, and treachery. It is the line that expresses true love: “As you wish.”