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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Let's call her Lana.  She was Beauty.  Around the time I started high school I auditioned for a play at the Chattanooga Little Theater (as it was then called) titled The Masque of Beauty and the Beast.  I got the role of the banker.  Remember the banker in Beauty and the Beast?  Neither does anyone else.  My character was little more than a plot point, so after a scene or two I went backstage to a tiny little alcove and happily worked the tape recorder that triggered the musical cues, never to be seen again by the audience until the curtain call.  A future Public Radio announcer was Beast, and girls in the audience always wanted to talk to him after the show.  We got a lot of letters from children who saw the play (presumably these letters were school assignments, but we enjoyed them anyway) and Lana got a lot of mash notes from young boys.

Lana was indeed a lovely young woman with a stage presence like a steady candle flame.  A willowy blonde, she wasn't quite to my boyish tastes (I was more drawn to Beast's outgoing girlfriend and the heavyset bookish girl who played Beauty's narratively nonessential sister) but she was an ideal icon of storybook beauty.  In real life she had a kindly sass and a willingness to engage others, qualities I admired and envied.

Years later we met again.  She was answering phones for a mail-order company where I was wasting time as a security guard.  An obscene caller had been terrorizing the operators by calling up and asking them to have sex with him.  Lana brought this to an end by replying to his request with "Yeah, sure.  Where are you?  Let's do this."  He never called again.

Enter the Age of Facebook.  Someone started a memorial page for the deceased graduates of our high school.  Someone else reported that Lana had committed suicide.  I tried to verify this, and was able to find a death notice.  I cannot and will not square what I know of her life with what I read of her death.

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