Monday, November 28, 2011

...Wherein I Talk About the Day My Pants Caught Fire...

I went to college and finally graduated after floundering around trying to decide on a major.  When I did I settled into Fine Arts with an emphasis on theater.

 This really is the main campus of my alma mater.

All of us theater majors formed a company, calling ourselves The College Players.  Our first (and maybe only) production was Godspell, which was a popular play at the time.  I was not an actor, but a stagehand-type, and we made me stage manager.  I helped construct the set and kept everybody in line during rehearsals and the performances.  

Our set consisted mainly of a gargantuan unadorned cyclorama and an iron fence.  My friend Louie and I were in charge of making the cyclorama, sewn from yards and yards of 36-inch-wide burlap.  We had a little portable Singer Featherweight sewing machine.  I did the actual sewing while Louie supported the weight of the fabric as it moved through the machine.  When we had all the strips of burlap sewn together, we added a 30-foot long strip of webbing across the top of the hanging (because that's how wide the dang thing was).  Into that, we punched holes and hammered in grommets. 

Louie and I had quite an assembly line going with the grommets: I punched the holes and he hammered the grommets.  In fact we had it down to a science and were moving along merrily when all of a sudden the cyclorama would not move.  We tugged a time or two, and then turned around to find our production manager's dog, Bear (big black Lab), happily lying on the burlap, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth in sheer joy.  We had to love on him for a minute before we removed him to another spot. 

The cyclorama was hung to the rigging over the stage and stretched across the back of the stage and around the sides.  The iron fence was placed in front of that.

And speaking of that fence, I helped construct it as well.  We used heavy iron pipe cut and welded together to make the fence.  My job was to hold the upright pieces of the pipe while someone who knew something about welding fused them together.  I had on a welder's mask and everything.  

Holding a piece of iron pipe in an upright position was not particularly exciting and my mind began to wander.  I was just blithely daydreaming when I felt my ankle starting to get warm.  I lifted my mask and looked down, and my pant leg was on fire.  MY PANT LEG WAS ON FIRE!!    I was momentarily rendered inarticulate, so I started beating the welder on the shoulder and when he looked up at me, all I could do was point to my pants.  He turned off the torch and slapped at my ankle and put the fire out.  Lucky for me I was not burned.  I had to sit down after that, and boy did I get some ribbing  from EVERYBODY!  The legend probably continues.  I kept the pants and eventually sewed patches from them (they were jeans) into a vest that I made.  

So that's how my pants caught on fire.  I hope you got half as much of a giggle out of that as we all did, back there in Charleston.


2 comments:

TheUnSoccerMom said...

oh my!!! I must confess... I did laugh... ;o)

Thankfully you weren't burned!

Theresa said...

You had a featherweight? A featherweight? Tell me it was yours, you still have it and you want to give it to me! Oh, and I hear you are still referred to as "hot pants".