As a child, The Brady Bunch fascinated me. I believed they were the ultimate family: good looking, compassionate, happy, and really groovy singers. When Mrs. Miller, my second grade teacher, gave me the chance to write and direct a play, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I would rewrite A Very Brady Christmas. I would show my school how great the Bradies were, and they would love me for my inspirational characterization of such a far-out family.
I slaved over my project. I watched A Very Brady Christmas dozens of times, picking up new details every time I stuck the tape into my family’s VCR. I felt part of the Brady family, facing the same problems and working towards the same solutions, all with a smile and a song. I wanted to be a Brady. I wanted to be as happy, as fulfilled, as the characters on TV. I believed the only way to reach my end goal was to change the people around me. I would show my fellow second graders how awesome the Bradies were.
I wanted to spice up the movie’s plot. So, I impregnated Cindy, and during Christmas dinner she would give birth. (Luckily, Marsha’s husband was a doctor, so the delivery would be a synch.) But when I presented my rough draft to Mrs. Miller, she chided me for deviating from the movie’s plot. She said that Cindy, a single woman, could not be pregnant in my play. She insisted that Cindy be married. But that was not okay! Cindy did not have a husband nor did I want to add another character. And deleting her pregnancy would surely bore my audience, though it was comprised only of lower schoolers.
I asked why Cindy had to be married. Instead of answering, Mrs. Miller threatened to cancel the play’s performance. I complied and added Jeff, Cindy’s new husband (whom she met on a relief mission in Hawaii). Every day I asked Mrs. Miller why single ladies could not have children. I pestered her constantly with questions about creation and childbirth. I believe in questioning. I believe in inquiry, even if there is no definitive answer. I wanted the truth, and I wanted justification for her action. I believed that I deserved to know why Cindy had to be married.
However, Cindy was not my only issue: I had to win over my actors. Of course I had named my play A Very Brady Christmas, but I attended a predominately Jewish school. When I handed out copies of the scripts, the actors were outraged. They refused to participate in a play about Christmas. Parents bombarded the principal with phone calls about the name of my work. Hence Mrs. Miller renamed it A Very Brady Holiday.
Why couldn’t anyone accept my play the way it was? I asked my classmates why Christmas was such a big deal, why they refused to act in a play that made reference to something Christian. I never got a definite answer. Actually I never even got an answer, just a cold shoulder. The more questions I asked, the more I was ostracized by my classmates. They wondered why I couldn’t simply agree to the revisions of my play. But I kept searching for answers.
I believe in questions. I believe in asking and re-asking. I believe it’s better to ask and receive an insufficient answer than never ask at all.
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