Life in Springfield

I brag about this Springfield, one of many in real life, but as far as I’m concerned the best one, even if the Simpsons don’t really live here. We have live theater venues (plural), a promising live music scene, a city opera company, a fabulous indie movie theater (the Moxie, of course) and a beautifully-restored classic theater in the gilded style (the Gillioz) where a variety of events happen. This doesn’t even count the multiple events each weekend sponsored by my university or the sports events. Exhibition play begins now for Bears and Lady Bears basketball and the football season continues.

Okay, most people know that football is one of my blind spots; I just don’t get the appeal and think it’s mighty expensive to sustain. Aside from that, I have plenty of events every weekend to choose from or feel guilty about not attending because I’m tired or mostly an introvert. This weekend I have a friend visiting Springfield. I want him to like it here. We’re going on a used bookstore treasure hunt, so some fun is ensured, but the usual live theater offers are thinned down this weekend while most theater groups take a week off between productions. The sole offering? At Juanita J. Hammons Center for the Performing Arts, Little House on the Prairie: The Musicalstarring Melissa Gilbert. Yes, she’s playing the mom. Yes, it would be far more fulfilling if she were playing Laura. I’m listing this with other pop culture things I would perversely enjoy because of my particular sense of humor such as seeingDarren Romeo do magic–while singing. Ah, Branson. So close.

Unfortunately, my friend has a very straightforward sense of humor that misses wide swaths of dark humor, irony, and even some slapstick. For example, he does not see why Absolutely Fabulous is considered a comedy. Also, I’m not so sure approaching this musical as a comedy is right, since I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be “heartwarming.” The bookstores will have to suffice.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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