"Wonderful. I'll probably make a fool of myself. Well, might as well get it over with."
This was my entrance line as Eeyore in "Winnie the Pooh," coming on stage to lose my tail. And this was the role I played when I had my brief tour on the London stage, my limited run treading the boards in the land of Shakespeare and Stoppard.
At the tender age of 15 I was in a production of "Winnie the Pooh" that had a four week tour in London, England, prompted by an invitation from the Polka Children's Theater in Wimbledon (yes, that Wimbledon - and no, the theater wasn't anywhere near a tennis court). Our company had a one-week run at the Polka, and performed three other plays as well as "Pooh" at theaters, schools, and parks around London. While the Polka was memorable, it was our first performance that I hold dear.
The day after we arrived from Minneapolis, we walked from the hostel where we were staying, costumes, props, and set pieces in tow, to a school in the Putney section of London. The boys at the school wore grey short pants with white shirts, yellow ties and knee socks. The girls wore peach dresses. It was like walking into the world of Christopher Robin and performing our show for all his school chums.
After the show, it was the tradition of the group to spend time talking with the audience while still in costume. In my case, the costume was a head-to-toe grey Eeyore suit over a large "pod," which made me look like a stuffed animal. All you could see of the "real" me was my face and a few blond curls. Being Eeyore, I had a removable tail - it was attached with a large snap. Out I went into the "garden" to talk with the students and pretty soon a little blonde boy came up alongside me and took my hand. His name was Charles. He didn't say much, just held my hand while I talked with the other kids. He disappeared at one point, but reappeared quickly and announced rather sadly, "My friend took your tail" in a perfect Christopher Robin sort of voice, holding up my Eeyore tail for me to see. I asked that he kindly return it where it belonged, which he did, and then took my hand again.
After a bit it was time to go inside and change into our regular clothes so we could have "squash and biscuits" with the students in the garden (squash and biscuits? we all wondered - strange treat for primary school kids...turns out it was orange drink and cookies - squash and biscuits - no vegetables to be seen). Charles stood by the steps into the school, waiting for me. When I came out, he pronounced, "I knew who you were, you were Eeyore," and resumed his place, holding my hand. Charles, my one-kid fan club, gave me my best memory from a brief career on the London stage.
What is the most charming 'thank you' you have ever given or received?