December 27, 1963 The Sword in the Stone]

How long will my son remember this, the night two days after Christmas when he couldn't go with his sisters and me to see The Sword in the Stone because of his sore throat, and stayed up with his mother until we returned with a souvenir program--young Wart and Merlin and the owl Archimedes--and the marvelous mad Madam Mim, her eyes like swirling plates on Ed Sullivan? Will he look back one day, all grown up, and remember the sore throat and his sister giving him the program, hanging over his shoulder, pointing at Wart as a fish--the pike almost got him--and the battle between Merlin and Mim--her cheating, but then getting sick, too, because Merlin turns into a microbe to mottle her and send her off to bed?

He probably will remember; the two things coming together--the injustice of it and the gift--will stick with him. After all, Wart is Arthur, and Merlin is getting him ready for the moment when the sword comes out clean as a whistle and they can start building Camelot--just like Broadway, Richard Burton reminding us "that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot"--while Robert Goulet promises "never could I leave you at all." And then there's Life magazine on the kitchen table, with Jackie Kennedy remembering the President, making me remember, too--but they're lying about it being "one brief moment," because it'll stick for a long long time, and stay sore, making it hard to swallow.


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