Saturday, April 22, 2006



My Sister-In-Law's Encounter With Mary Travers in the Wal-Mart Women's Bathroom (Or How I Imagined It)

(Mary is over a sink, looking in the mirror. My sister-in-law is two sinks over. Mary speaks...)

Why can't I get that thing out of my eye? I don't even see it. What is it, an eyelash? Now my eye's all red. Lovely. I have to perform in two minutes and it will look like I just had a big cry. Or have pink-eye.

Let me just touch that up with a little eye-liner. Where did these bags come from? Good God. Honey, even legends get old. Maybe even older. It's not like God said, "You're a celebrity, so your eyes won't get puffy, they'll never get lined with crow's feet." I'm just like everyone else. Things go south, wrinkles come out of nowhere, hair turns gray. We're not twenty forever, babe.

Even a radical and a truth-teller has moments of vanity. Even a "face of the folk movement," a preacher of love and justice, sometimes looks in the mirror and stares for a second, and thinks, with some astonishment, "wow, I'm getting old." And then we get over it, and do what we gotta do. Right on, sister. See you out there.

(They high-five as she exits.)

Though it has been decades since Peter, Paul, and Mary were on the covers of major magazines or hailed as new folk heroes; though on that day they were no longer headlining music festivals but instead playing in a store infamous for selling mass-produced consumer goods, they sang their hearts out. In the middle of Wal-Mart, as parents shopped for school clothes and kids bought video games, they sang about universal truth and brotherly love and social justice. Shouting it out to whomever would listen. They started out as unknowns, playing in obscure after-hours coffee-houses; they'll end up where they began. Radicals.

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